I was doing the Bondi to Coogee walk this Sunday with my Mrs, and passed by this bloke, paddle-surfing near Bronte. At first, I just thought "Man, I want this guy's life." And then, the physio in me, started to assess just how strong he needed to be to manoeuvre his board. Talk about needing a core of steel. This guy is virtually walking on water!
It got me thinking - maybe paddle-surfing in Sydney is the next best thing to Pilates for training and strengthening your core?
Training on unbalanced surfaces is very effective for switching on the core muscles. People with strong cores tend to get fewer injuries and the reason is simple. The main core muscle (the Transversus Abdominus) has been shown to contract on unstable ground before any other muscle, working to stabilise our spine. It's for this reason that the Transversus Abdominus is one of the most important muscles in the body, and why every physio, Pilates and yoga instructor who knows their stuff will tell you it is important to draw your naval to your spine when you're practicing a class, or rehabilitating from an injury. Yes it's a really frustrating skill to learn but perfecting this subtle skill will protect your spine throughout all daily movements.
I'm sure the paddle surfer we came across wasn't worrying about his Transversus Abdominus when he hit the waves on this glorious Sunday morning. He was probably just out for some fun (and it sure does look like more fun than planking, for similar results for your core).
Paddle Surfing is a long-term fitness goal for me - I'm not the strongest swimmer - so I'll probably keep to the Pilates mats (and Clovelly for snorkelling!)
For those of you like me, who would rather watch than hit the waves, here are some great exercises for strengthening your core without the use of a paddle:
Core strengthening exercises using a SWISS BALL.