As a chiropractor, I focus on balancing and stabilizing the spine. Strong core muscles contribute to good posture and a healthy back, so an important part of my role is educating patients on how to strengthen their core. Core muscles include abdominal and lower-back muscles, muscles that stabilize the pelvis (gluteals), hip adductors and abductors, and hip flexors. Core strength is important for balance and stability, injury prevention and functional fitness, which is essential for daily activities.
Beyond the floor for core
For many years, I’ve been giving my patients handouts that illustrate several floor exercises. Invariably, when I follow up to see if patients are performing the exercises, the answer usually starts with a hesitation, a look of guilt and then an admission that they haven’t been doing the exercises. I finally realized that most of my patients found these exercises tedious, so I began looking for more appealing alternatives.
Thanks to one of my patients, I was introduced to a fun and effective way to strengthen the core: stand up paddleboarding (SUP). At this patient’s first visit, I sent her home with my core exercise handouts, and then didn’t see her for four months. The next time I saw her, she showed me her newly toned abdominal muscles, thanks to SUP, and told me how much fun it was.
A great workout that’s fun
In SUP, you have to maintain your balance while paddling a nine- to 12-foot surfboard, making it an excellent core workout. It also helps strengthen your lower legs and shoulders. I use SUP for a good, non-impact cardiovascular workout, or for a leisurely paddle with friends – either way it’s a great way to get outside and enjoy the sunshine.
For a calm, flat-water workout, paddle in the bay or a lake; for a more exciting and challenging experience, try the ocean and ride the waves. It’s also a fun family activity that allows non-paddlers to sit on the board and enjoy the ride. My family and I make a day out of it and bring a picnic (in a dry bag), masks and snorkels, and go for a swim.
For your first time out, take a lesson to learn proper posture and paddling strokes. The outdoor adventure company, REI, has an excellent tutorial that includes expert advice and an instructional video.
Before you invest in a board, rent one until you know what type you want. There are several places in San Diego that rent and sell boards and paddles, including:
Surf Diva (2160 Avenida de la Playa, La Jolla) offers rentals and lessons at nearby La Jolla Shores. You will enjoy the gentle waves and clear water in the aquatic park and can paddle over to La Jolla Cove to see garibaldi, leopard sharks (harmless bottom feeders), and the occasional sea lion. You could spoil yourself with their 3-day SUP and yoga package! Visit them at www.surfdiva.com or call 858-454-8273.
Aqua Adventures rents boards out of Quivira Basin in Mission Bay. They keep their boards on a dock and will put the board in the water for you. Visit them at www.sandiegopaddleboarding.com or call 619-523-9577.
Mitch’s Surf Shop (631 Pearl St., La Jolla) sells boards and paddles. Visit them at www.mitchssurfshop.com 858-459-5933.
Whether you’re looking for a great workout or a day in the sun with friends, SUP is a good way to gain core strength and get a strong, healthy back while having fun. Give it a try!