What happens to your body during a surf session?

What happens to your body during a surf session?

Our buddy Andrew Blake from Bayfitness.co.uk has put together this handy guide that explains the stages your body goes through before, during and after a surf session.


#1 Magic Seaweed

  • Check where the best waves are going to be today put on your Surfdome hoodie and drive to the best spot.
  • Heart rate increases as your body stimulates adrenaline and your sympathetic nervous system is stimulated sending messages from the brain to the body to get ready for action.


#2 On the drive to the beach

  • Start to think about your posture. Bring your shoulders back out of protraction start to mobilise your lumbar spine with some pelvic tilts. Start to flex and extend muscles of your neck.
  • Breath deeper and slower. Start counting your inhalation and exhalation. Your heart beat becomes more even, slows down, your body produces less of the stress hormone Cortisol and you become more in tune with the moment.
  • Visualisation/mental rehearsal/Imagery. Imagine yourself on the perfect wave and go through movement patterns in your head.


#3 Arrive at the beach car park

  • It’s easy to get cold checking the surf so keep your muscles warm by wrapping up.


#4 Warm up

A good surf warm up has 3 stages:

  • Get some blood flow to the muscles. (light jog to the beach)
  • Mobilise key areas your body needs for surfing. (shoulders, hips, back, hamstrings)
  • Simulate movement patterns (pop ups, paddle, rotations)



#5 Getting in the water

  • As you enter the cool water the blood will leave your muscles and head to your vital organs. Keep moving for the first 5 minutes to keep the blood circulating and avoid the cold.
  • Your breath will shorten as the cool water hits you. Deepen your inhalation and slow down the exhalation.


 #6 Paddling out

  • This is where all your yoga, and surf fitness preparation pays off! Good range of motion, good muscular endurance, good posture, and good alignment of your spine.



#7 Duck Diving

  • Regulate your breathing before going under. Go deep then kick your tail and if you’ve been doing your Hindu press ups or yoga you should feel nice and mobile in the spine.


#8 Sitting out the back

  • Sitting on the board for prolonged periods of time can make muscles surrounding your hips tight. Take some time with your feet in the water and keep moving every minute or two.


#9 Popping up

  • This is where those functional training sessions will pay off. A combination of mobility and strength will give you a better technique and less chance of injury.


#10 Standing up

  • Your legs will be contacting Isometrically. (without lengthening or shortening too much). If you train well you can delay the onset of blood lactate and your legs will be able to work for longer periods of time and recover faster before fatigue sets in.
  • Focus on the moment and everything will slow down around you.


#11 Wiping out

  • The key to a good wipeout is staying calm. The worse thing you can do is panic. Still your mind, don’t move and just wait to pop up.


#12 Cool Down and recovery

  • You never see surfers doing a cool down after they get out the sea but 5 minutes of hips, lower back and shoulders can greatly reduce DOMS (delayed onset of muscle soreness) and improve recovery time if you want to surf again.
  • Drink plenty of water before you drink beer! And get some good nutrient dense calories in you. (lean protein, nuts, fruit, vegetables)


For added fun, here’s a video of Andrew training Cotty:



Andrew Blake runs Bayfitness in Croyde Bay, North Devon. He has worked with professional surfers across the world including current world champion Gabriel Medina, Alana Blanchard and the best big wave surfers in the world Andrew Cotton and Garret McNamara.  As well as working with elite athletes he runs yoga, surf and fitness reboot retreats in both France and in Devon.
Updated: 22/12/2015


Learn more about the biomechanics of surfing in our guest blog The Biomechanics of Surfing by Thomas Waldron.


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