Stand-up paddle boarding (SUP) or what is known in the Hawaiian language as Hoe he’e nalu is a great activity that has long been part of that culture and fortunately for us, has gained recent popularity in various regions around the country.
During a summer vacation down in Rhode Island three years ago, we liked the activity so much, we ended up buying our first SUP, a Naish board, at the Matunuck Surf Shop. One of the many benefits of SUP that I like is the cross training effect you get on an unbalanced surface; this trains new neural pathways between different muscle groups. In addition to this new found strength, there may even be a transfer-effect that could benefit dynamic movements used in other sports as well as activities of daily living.
Training on unbalanced surfaces is very effective for developing strength and endurance for your core and other postural muscles. In traditional resistance training your muscles are trained (at times) to work in isolation in a stable environment. In sport, however, your body requires explosive strength and power while in motion, this is one of the benefits you get from cross-training in a more fluid environment and where SUP has the potential to really excel.
You may be asking yourself in addition to the core and postural muscles that I mentioned, what other muscle groups are activated while you’re having all this fun in the sun? Well, there are many. First, your core which consist of twenty-nine different muscles that connect your upper and lower body, are worked each time your paddle enters the water. A typical stroke begins from the front of your board back to where your feet are positioned mid-board. The great by-product here is the fact that there is no heavy load placed on your back or leg muscles as this occurs. In addition your legs, upper/mid back, shoulders, chest, and arms are all stressed with each pull of the paddle through (water) resistance. You can also get an additional workout in by adding in prone “surfer” paddling, paddling while on your knees, performing exercises like push-ups or planks and maybe even a little yoga on your board if you feel the urge. This is your summer to give it a try!