In the first of the ‘Paddle Battle’ episodes I spoke about how to position yourself on your surfboard to ensure that you were reducing drag forces. This is really important because without that first step of getting the board horizontal and plaining across the water nicely, these next tips will not make much difference.
Today’s blog is all about the optimal positioning of our hands and arms during paddling. It is super important that these aspects are touched on as they will not only make catching waves and getting back out to the line-up easier, but also reduce the chances of being injured during a surf.
The old theory that a cupped hand is better for swimming/surfing because it acts like a paddle and grabs more water, is actually not true in this circumstance. We want the hands to be nice and relaxed when they enter the water, this is because one, it is more comfortable and will lead to reduced fatigue towards the end of a surf but two, because it creates a bigger surface area to produce more propulsion in the forwards direction. That is important during the propulsion phase but even more so when you begin to finish the underwater part of the paddle and transition through the back part of the paddle phase. Here you want to have a relaxed hand because it is easier to retract it from the water and that final part of the underwater aspect you do not want to be pulling through the water because that just creates a downward push which in turn increases drag on the board instead of plaining horizontally.
The biggest mistake that can be made when generally paddling around during a session is to have a straight arm during the stroke. Deeper arms, do not necessary translate to improved paddling. In fact, having a straight arm during the stroke of paddling puts you at risk of injuring the shoulder – this position engages the Latissimus Dorsi, Pectoralis and Upper Trapezius muscles and switches off the ‘Rotator Cuff’ muscles. When this occurs we lose the internal control and stability of the joint which can then lead to impingement or other damage. Arm positioning is super important – keeping the elbow as the widest part of your body during the entire stroke is a way of maintaining a good strong position at the shoulder joint and not allowing fatigue to create injury or affect performance.
If you are battling with injury, fatigue or not feeling strong on the board during a surf then try adjusting your hand/arm position and see the benefits!
Are you a surfer, or wanting to get in to surfing? Book in to see Simon today for his expert help - book online here, or call us on (08) 9448 2994.