Stand Up Paddle Boarding is a fun activity that almost everyone can do. This is one of the reasons we love it here at T’ashii. It’s also a great form of exercise! Whether you are relaxing on the inlet or pushing yourself in the surf, you’re getting a great work-out for your whole body. Even the act of just standing on your board has you working on balance, strength and endurance. Add paddling to that and you get the rest of your body involved! I’m sure you will agree that it is an excellent core workout. But did you realise you are also working your toes, legs, back, shoulders, arms and neck; which are all working together to keep you balanced as you paddle along? Working all of these muscles is awesome. But if we fail to stretch them out after our paddle we are more likely to feel stiff and sore, and we increase our chance of injury. That’s why we’ve compiled a few simple stretches that will give our muscles the care they need to keep our bodies feeling great after a day out on the water! We’ve included some Tla-o-qui aht words for some of the poses too…
1 Extended Child’s Pose
This pose can provide passive relief for many areas of the body, especially the shoulders. Kneel on the floor and sit on your heels, then separate your knees about as wide as your hips. Lay your torso down between your thighs and reach your arms out in front. Rest your forehead on the floor. Lengthen your shoulders away from your ears and hold this pose for a minute or two whilst breathing deep.
2 Cat/cow piišpiiš/ muusmuus
Start on your hands and knees in a “tabletop” position. Make sure your knees are directly under your hips and your wrists, elbows and shoulders are in line. As you inhale, lift your sitting bones and chest toward the ceiling, allowing your belly to sink toward the floor. Lift your head to look straight forward. As you exhale, tuck your tailbone in, round your spine toward the ceiling, making sure to keep your shoulders and knees in position. Release your head toward the floor. Repeat 10 – 20 times.
3 Thread the needle
Come back to your hands and knees. Open your right arm up towards the ceiling and then thread it under the left arm, bringing your right shoulder and cheek to the ground. The hips should stay lifted. Move your left hand further out in front of you to deepen the stretch. Repeat this on both sides.
4 Downward Facing Dog – ʕiniƛ
From ‘table top’ position move your hands out slightly in front of you, tuck your toes, and lift your hips up to the sky. At first keep the knees slightly bent and the heels lifted away from the floor and begin to ‘walk out your dog’ by pedaling your heels towards the ground. Feet should be about a foot apart, elbow creases facing forward and shoulders away from ears. Slowly work towards pushing your heels down to the ground and lengthening up through your tail bone.
5 High Lunge
From Downward Dog step your right foot forward in between your hands, aligning the right knee over the ankle. Keeping your fingertips on the ground, lower your left knee to the floor and slide the left leg back until you feel a comfortable stretch in the left front thigh and groin. Check the alignment of your right knee – you always want to be able to see your big toe, tuck your back toes and lift the back knee (if this is too tricky keep your back leg on the ground). Inhale and lift your torso upright and reach your arms up to the sky. Draw the tailbone down toward the floor and stay here for 5 deep breaths before repeating on the opposite side.
6 Forward fold with clasp
Take either a wide-legged stance, or feet together with bent knees. Interlace your fingers behind your back and draw your shoulder blades together. Hinge forward at the hips while bringing your hand up over your head and away from your body. Be gentle with yourself as this pose can be intense.
7 Cobra ḥiiyi
Lay down on your stomach with the tops of your feet on the floor. Bring your hands underneath your shoulders and hug your elbows in towards your rib cage. Press the tops of the feet and thighs into the floor, and begin to engage your core and your glutes. On an inhale lengthen through the front body, press up through your arms and lift your chest off the floor. Only go to a height where you can maintain the connection through your lower body with the floor. Draw your shoulders back and breathe into the back body. Work towards taking the weight out of your arms, supporting yourself using your core muscles.
8 Eagle arms C’ix̣watin
This is a great stretch for between your shoulder blades and can be done standing or in a comfortable seated position. To give you feet some love, kneel on the ground and tuck your toes before sitting down on your heels. To come into the position, hook your right elbow under the left, and wrap the hands so that your palms meet (don’t worry if you’re not quite there yet). Keeping your back straight, work on getting the shoulders to stay away from the ears while also raising your elbows up to deepen the stretch. Hold this for 5-10 breaths then switch the arms around.
9 Pigeon x̣aʔumin
From table top position, bring your right knee to the ground just behind your right wrist with your shin on a diagonal and your right heel pointed towards your left hip bone. Tuck your left toes under and straighten your leg so that the thigh and knee come to the ground. Pull the right hip crease back and square your hips. If after squaring your hips the area where your thigh and buttock meet doesn’t rest on the floor, use a blanket or a cushion underneath. Flex your right foot to protect your knee. Begin by using your arms to support you, then gradually walk your hands forward out in front of you, lowering your torso down as you relax into the stretch. Hold this for a long as feels good before repeating on the other side
10 Supine spinal twist
Lying on your back with the soles of your feet on the floor and your arms stretched out in a T shape. Cross your right leg over you left and allow your knees towards the ground on the left hand side of your body. As you twist, aim to keep both your shoulders on the ground and turn your head to look to the right. To deepen the stretch you may want to gently pull down on your right knee with your left hand, but be sure to maintain contact with the ground with your right shoulder. The twist should be coming from your core muscles, try not to crank yourself into it! Stay here for as long as you like before switching to the other side.
Give these a go and tell us what you think ! If you are a flat water SUP paddler, you might even want to try these out on your board at the end of your paddle. Be careful with the standing postures – these will definitely challenge your balance!
All of these stretches will do your body lots of favours whether you have been paddling or not, so fitting in this simple sequence into your daily routine would definitely be beneficial
Kirstie Leighton, T’ashii Paddle School
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