Why Stabilizer Muscles are Crucial to Surf Success (and how to train them)
When thinking about surfing, it is easy to think of training those larger muscles groups. The shoulders, the legs, the back. But it is important not to forget about those muscles that work really hard behind the scenes. These muscles are called stabilizers.
Think of your body as having two types of muscle. One type, is the type that moves your body. For example, legs when walking, arms when paddling. The other type, though not as obvious, are equally as important. Basically, these muscles hold in place your body parts so that those “moving muscles” can do their magic. Without them, your moving muscles would be extremely vulnerable to damage and injury. These muscles, the stabilisers, act to support your trunk, limit movement in a joint and control balance. They may not be directly involved with the activity, but can you imagine how you would surf if your joints had nothing to support them? After one wave, you would probably have destroyed your rotator cuff, torn or strained multiple muscles, and would be crying in agony.
So yes… We kind of need these things called stabilizers. Lets give them some attention…
As I have mentioned before, everything in your body is interrelated. If you are weak in one aspect of your body, something else along the line will be making up for it. The body is very tricky like this! Your body needs to have strong stabilizers in surfing as when the working muscles feel supported, then they can really utilise their force and strength. If a muscle is doing a movement, but the joints are under extreme pressure because the stabilizers are weak, you risk injury and are going to surf very hesitantly.
On land, stabilizers are responsible for keeping us upright and maintaining our posture. On a surf board, they are going to be engaged 24-7. Because you are probably so used to sitting on your surfboard when you wait for a wave, you will forget how much work the stabilisers in your core will be doing. Remember how learners can’t seem to just sit on their boards? It is because they haven’t got used to using their stabilizing muscles in this way.
Thinking past the beginners stage and into a more progressive level of surfing, it is ideal to train and condition these stabilizers so that you can produce maximum force with your turns, become more resilient to imbalances on your board and largely reduce the risk of injury. Try doing this workout 3 times a week but remember, there are a lot of other ways you can train for your stabilizers informally. Have a roll around on a swiss ball or cook dinner standing on one leg. Every little thing counts, and your surfing will thank you for it.