Balance in surfing is a must have key attribute.
Training is very difficult as they’re are so many key attributes to consider. Balance though can be dramatically improved through some simple exercises.
Balance is made of a 3 main attributes-
- Vestibular system – sense organs that regulate directional information
- Somatosensory system –proprioception and kinesthesia (information from joints, muscles, skin and vibratory senses)
- Visual system – spatial location relative to objects
Others – Age, Gender, Height and more
Improving ankle flexibility goes a long way into improving all of these 3 main attributes, and therefore improving overall balance and reducing chances over injuries relation to pronation.
Pronation within the foot is one of the most talked about injury causes, and can be related to most activities. It can be the cause of shin splints, plantar fasciitis (heel spurs), knee arthritis, aid other overuse injuries. Increased levels of pronation can also be caused by reduced ankle flexibility, and cause balance issues in every day life.
The calf muscles mainly determine ankle flexibility. The calf muscle has 2 main muscles –
- Gastrocnemius (attaching across the ankle and above the knee joint). This limits your ankle dorsiflexion (moving upwards) when your leg is straight
- Soleus (attaching across the ankle without crossing the knee joint). This limits your ankle dorsiflexion (moving upwards) when your knee is bent
When your calf muscle is tight then your ankle will have limited dorsiflexion (upwards movement).
Surfing usually involves a slight bend within the knee, even when standing tall in the barrel. The more crouched down a surfer is the more ankle dorsiflexion and flexibility within the soleus is needed.
If your ankle cannot obtain the level of dorsiflexion needed, the leg will internally rotate causing pronation and putting unwanted strain on your knees, and putting you off balance. This will ultimately lead to wiping out (hopefully without injury).
Overall improving ankle flexibility will help you to crouch down deeper, getting tighter in the barrel, have more chance of landing that radical maneuver, and reduce the chance of injury.