Standup Paddle Boarding
In Vancouver, standup paddle boarding, also known as SUP, is one of the most popular summertime water activities, and it’s easier than you think! You’ll get a core and leg workout from maintaining your balance, and it’s a great off-season training activity for both skiers and snowboarders.
Flat water boards tend be larger (longer, wider, and with higher volume) which provides more stability. They usually have a flat bottom, which forms a big, stable platform. The size of the board you choose will ultimately be based on your weight and experience on the water.
From a fitness and postural perspective, I love the calm, relaxed nature of flat water paddleboarding which allows you to consciously focus on several aspects of your body. For example, trying to stand up without hunching over provides a great opportunity to practice postural alignment in a dynamic setting. Think about when you are at the gym and you are trying to maintain your balance while standing on a BOSU ball or wobble board. This is conceptually the same only you have water and a board underneath you. One key aspect of maintaining a neutral standing posture in a dynamic setting is to ensure you are not locking (hyperextending) your knees. Pay attention to relaxing your quadricep (anterior thigh) muscles and ensuring you are maintaining a neutral pelvic tilt; this will provide a much more stable environment capable of recovering from small dynamic shifts in your balance. If you don’t unlock your knees, over time, this could lead to knee, hip, or back pain.
If you’re aware of your posture (or being constantly reminded by your Chiropractor ? ), tight upper traps, neck tension, and weak low back muscles are likely responsible. With SUP, you have to consciously be paddling on both your left and right sides, so shoulder mobility is also important. Imagine trying to navigate with your paddle, while your shoulders are scrunched up by your ears (I refer to this as your “schneck”.) Wall Angels are a stretch/stability exercise I recommend to almost every patient with neck or shoulder issues.
People often ask me if SUP is good for your core. SUP provides you with a fabulous opportunity to engage your abdominal muscles to create stability and minimize rotation in a dynamic setting. This is due to the balancing and bilateral paddling motion, which is a different motion than traditional crunches or exercises like the plank that people use to work their core.
If you want to experience the serene environment of calm waters while getting in a work-out, SUP is perfect for you. Bear in mind you still need to consider other forms of exercise to create a well balanced exercise regime, but this is one of my new favourite activities to recommend to my patients. I did it for the first time while travelling in Mexico and I can’t wait to get out and do more of it.
Enjoy the sun!
Dr. Crysta Serné
Vancouver Chiropractor and owner of Vitality Clinic