3 Balance Practices to Improve your SUP Balance
Commit to do these balance exercises 3 times a week and you will notice a huge improvement in your balance the next time you are on your SUP.
SUP Balance Training
As winter quickly approaches, getting out on your stand up paddle board may become limited, depending on which part of the country you live in. You don’t want to lose that SUP-chiseled body that you developed over the spring and summer.
More importantly, you don’t want to lose that magnificent balance that you had to develop to master your SUP in rougher water conditions.
We’ve come up with some simple ways that you not only won’t lose that balance but will now be able to build upon it.
What is balance?
Balance is a person’s ability to maintain their body’s center of mass over its base of support. If a person has a properly functioning balance system, they can see clearly while moving, identify orientation with respect to gravity, determine direction and speed of movement, and make automatic postural adjustments to maintain posture and stability in various conditions and activities.
There are many aspects of the human condition that go into maintaining balance. Consider the complex set of sensorimotor control systems that include sensory input from vision (sight), proprioception (touch), and the vestibular system (motion, equilibrium, spatial orientation).
Now think about the integration of that sensory input and motor output to the eye and body muscles. Many factors can impair balance: injury, disease, certain drugs, or the aging process all can play a role.
To keep this delicate system in equilibrium, it is recommended that you constantly work on training all the components.
Most people don’t think of their core as providing much in the way of balance but because it ties your lower and upper extremities together, a weak core will collapse the Jenga Tower that is your body. 29 muscles make up your core which is why the core is so integral in giving us our sense of balance.
To develop core strength, you will want to invest in a few accessories: a balance ball, a Bosu ball, a training band and an Indo board.
Starting with the balance ball, try holding a plank for a minute with your elbows and forearms resting on the ball.
Once you have mastered this move, try, and straddle the ball with your knees digging into it and hold this position for 1 minute.
You may need a wall to stabilize yourself initially and you will want to make sure that your landing involves carpet or padding.
After a few weeks of mastering the balance ball, you should be ready for the Bosu ball.
Put the round surface on the floor and stand with both feet on the flat surface.
Once you have mastered balancing on the Bosu ball, grab a 10 lb dumbbell and try doing bent over rows on the Bosu. Once this is no longer a challenge, switch to one legged bent over rows. Now you should be ready for the Indo board.
Start slowly on the Indo board and focus on maintaining your balance. Once you’ve conquered this, tie one end of your resistance band to something stable like a doorknob and the other end around the blade of your paddle.
While maintaining your balance on the Indo board, “paddle” as you normally would letting the band provide the resistance. Switch sides every five paddles or so.
Keeping your glutes and quads strong is very important to maintaining good balance on your SUP. We recommend that you practice body weight one legged squats and eventually work your way up to “pistol squats” where one leg stays out in front of the body while the other let squats down as low as you can comfortably go.
Start by squatting to a seated position on a couch and then pushing yourself up again with the one leg. The goal is to be able to squat low enough that your glutes are within 6 inches or so of the floor. This exercise will get your legs incredibly strong but balance on a SUP requires that you work the muscles in your ankles and feet as well.
You’ve got 100 muscles in your feet but whoever thinks about strengthening them? Here are some simple exercises that will take you about 5 minutes to complete.
Sit barefoot in a chair and push your toes into the floor without curling them for about 6-7 seconds, repeat 5-10 times per foot.
Next try spreading your toes apart for a few seconds and then squeeze them back together again. Repeat 5 times on each foot.
Next flex your toes up towards your ankle and then move them down towards the floor and pretending that you are using them to grab a ball, also using the ball of your foot to grab “the ball”.
You will end up with your feet pointing towards the floor. Then flex them back towards your ankle and repeat the process five times per foot.
Next, reverse this movement. Start with your toes curled up and facing the floor and flex them up towards your ankle. Repeat 5 times.
Believe it or not, having strong upper body muscles will help keep you stable on your SUP as well. Since your paddle acts as a lever that keeps you connected to the water and therefore helps with balance, you will want to make sure that your shoulders and upper back muscles are strong as well. Rear deltoid exercises are a great way to hit both areas of the body. Using two dumbbells, hinge at the waist slightly while keeping a slight arch in your lower back and bend your elbows and move the weights away from each other while squeezing your shoulder blades together. Repeat 8 times and rest and then do two more sets.
Commit to do these balance exercises 3 times a week and you will notice a huge improvement in your balance the next time you are on your SUP. Do them with your eyes closed to deny yourself that sensorimotor control system if you really want to take things to the next level!
Check out more of our expert paddlers advice right here!