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Injuries are the worst! No one wants to miss out on a beautiful day on the water because they’re taking time to recover.
Preventing injuries is much easier than treating them once they happen. That’s why we put together this helpful guide to help you prevent SUP injuries and feel fit and strong on (and off) the water.
In this article, we look at common injuries caused by SUPing, as well as how to prevent them through exercises and stretches.
Common SUP Injuries
Recreational paddle boarding can be enjoyed by most and is a relatively low-impact activity that won’t cause too much muscle fatigue if you’re moderately fit.
SUP racing, surfing, and yoga are more intense and involve a greater risk of injury due to the strain these activities place on the body.
No matter the intensity, any form of exercise can result in injury due to increased stress on the muscles and joints.
The most common cause of injury in paddle boarders is simply overusing muscles and pushing their bodies past what is comfortable.
Here are the most common injuries caused by paddling:
- Injury to the rotator cuff muscles
- Tears in the rotator cuff tendons
- Inflammation in the shoulder tendon
- Biceps tendonitis
- Lower back muscle strain
- Hip bursitis
- Inflammation of the knees
- “Paddler’s elbow”
Shoulder pain is the most common injury as a result of incorrect paddle length, poor paddling technique or simply overusing the shoulder joints.
Back injuries can occur when picking up and carrying the board, attempting to surf, falling off the board, or not engaging the core.
Knee injuries, although less common, can also occur with racing or surfing as you attempt to balance. This often results in overpronation of the ankle, which can injure the knee.
How To Prevent SUP Injuries
Lucky for you, preventing common SUP injuries is quite easy. It just takes a bit of prep, time, and effort. But trust us, it’s all worth it in the end because it means you’ll be paddling pain-free all season.
- Do a Proper Warm-Up
- Condition Your Body
- Make Time For Recovery
- Choose the Right SUP
- Set Up the Paddle Correctly
- Paddle Properly
- Rest When Needed
1. Do a Proper Warm-Up
Before you hit the water, it’s important to warm up properly and get the blood flowing to your muscles.
Dynamic stretching before a SUP session helps to strengthen muscles and increase blood flow to the muscles that are about to be worked out.
A dynamic stretching session can include:
- Arm crossovers
- Arm circles
- Trunk rotations
- Reaching overhead and leaning side-to-side
2. Condition Your Body
Training your body off your board helps reduce the risk of injury on it. Different forms of exercise strengthen your muscles and improve joint mobility.
We recommend the following forms of conditioning to help prevent SUP injuries:
- Resistance training: The goal of resistance training is to slightly push the muscles to their limit without causing injury. It allows for adaptation, not overuse.
- Yoga: Yoga helps loosen the muscles and increases flexibility and balance.
- Cardio: Improving your cardiovascular health (along with your muscular strength) allows you to paddle with endurance for long distances.
3. Make Time For Recovery
Once you get out of the water, you should always take time to cool down and stretch your muscles. This will reduce stiffness the following day and subsequently reduce the risk of injury.
Some of our favorite stretches include:
- Chest opener stretch
- Arm cross-over stretch
- Forward fold
- Seated twists
4. Choose the Right SUP
SUPing is about more than just cruising along on the water, you also need the right equipment.
The right SUP can go a long way in preventing injuries. Those who are new to the sport might need a board that has less resistance and is lighter to maneuver, while expert SUPers want something fit for racing or surfing.
If you’ve chosen a SUP that also converts into a kayak, you’ll want to read our safety tips before you go as there are some additional tips to preventing injury in there as well.
5. Set Up the Paddle Correctly
Having the correct paddle setup goes a long way in preventing injuries and making for a more comfortable day on the water.
Most SUP paddles are adjustable by height and have markings on them. Adjust your paddle to your height so your strokes are fluid and reduce the risk of back and shoulder pain.
6. Maintain Good Form
While paddling, maintain a slight bend at your knees with your feet pointing forward. Engage your core, keep your back flat, and your shoulders back. Use the muscles in your arms, back, and core to drag the paddle through the water as you paddle.
7. Rest When Needed
If you feel fatigued, take a break. Your muscles might need some rest or maybe you need some time in the shade to chill. Always listen to your body when paddling.
Paddle Safely For Years to Come
Like any sport, SUPing comes with its risk of injuries. Fortunately for you, these can easily be prevented or avoided by taking a few simple precautions.