Healthy Paddling: Build Your Balance
Maintaining your stability on the water is an important aspect of all paddle sports, but stand up paddleboarding in particular requires excellent balance. Positioning yourself properly and cross training to improve your stability will improve your overall paddling experience.
To find your balance on a SUP, start kneeling in the center of the board. Holding the sides of the board, called the rails, slowly stand just behind the midpoint of the board’s length (often there is a handle located in the exact center). Your feet should be parallel to the rails, and approximately hip distance apart. Bend your knees slightly, and look at the horizon, never down at the board.
There are a few simple exercises that can help you achieve better balance. To strengthen your ankles, position a resistance band over the ball of your foot, holding one end of the band in each hand. Flex and point your toes while applying light resistance. Next, try standing on one foot while lifting the other a few inches off of the ground. When you feel comfortable doing this with your eyes open, try closing them. Opposite arm and leg reaches, planks, squats, and yoga are also very effective exercises to improve balance. Check the internet for additional instruction and demonstrations.
For more advanced paddlers, an Indo Board is one of our favorite tools to challenge your balance. Basically a flat piece of wood balanced on a cylinder or cushion, it offers a multitude of exercises designed to support balance training and strengthen your core. Commit to a few minutes of balance work each day, and you will feel more stable on your board in no time.
Ocean Tribe Paddlers is a club hosted by Sanibel Sea School that helps the SWFL paddling community better explore, enjoy, and understand the ocean. Visit oceantribepaddlers.org or follow us on Facebook to learn more.