As spring arrives on the West Coast, more and more paddlers will be hitting the water in the coming days and weeks

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One of the things that many of us neglect to do before we hit the water a little warm-up. It’s actually really important to warm-up before you start any sport to prevent injuries. I always recommend dynamic stretching before any sport or workout. Dynamic stretching involves doing movements that are dynamic, e.g. constantly moving to get into the full range of motion in our joints. When we stretch dynamically, we warm-up the joints, reduce muscle tension and maintain our levels of flexibility.

Start slowly, and increase in intensity as you warm-up.

Here are a few shoulder and upper back dynamic stretches that I like to do with the paddle before hitting the water. You can also do these at home or in the gym with a dowel to increase mobility in the shoulders and upper back.

1. Overhead Stretch

Stand with your feet a bit wider than hip-width distance apart, and hold your paddle with your hands a bit wider than shoulder width. Keep a micro-bend in the elbow. Start with the paddle in front of you, bring it overhead, and slowly move it toward your bum. Don’t force the movement, only allow your hands to travel behind you as far as they will go. Repeat back and forth a number of times.


2. Overhead Rotations

IMG_4665 Resume in a starting position, feet slightly wider than hip-width and hands on the paddle, holding it overhead, with your grip wider than shoulder width. Trace “Os” overhead with your paddle as you rotate the paddle overhead, moving the shoulders and upper back to trace your “O”.


3. Upper Back Twist

Place your paddle behind your neck over your shoulders, resting your arms along the paddle. With feet wider than hip width distance apart, rotate the upper back slowly, back and forth, keeping your arms rested along the paddle. This rotation warms us up through the upper back and thoracic spine.


4. Paddle Moon Pose

Moon Pose with SUP paddle

This is a variation of “Moon Pose” in yoga. Stand with your feet together, and grip your hands on the paddle about shoulder width distance apart. Inhale reach up, and bend slowly to the side as you exhale. Move back to centre, exhale to the other side. Move from side to side in a slow, but fluid fashion.


5. Shoulder Dips

Shoulder Dips with SUP Paddle

With knees bent in a half squat, place your paddle parallel to the ground, resting on your knees. Rest your hands on the paddle past your knees. Slowly dips one shoulder down between the knees, come back to centre, dip the shoulder down to the other side, moving back and forth dynamically. You often each some cracking in popping in this dynamic stretch.

Try incorporating all or a few of these before your next SUP session. Your joints and muscles will thank you!

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Nikki Johnston Beaudoin is the founder of Sea to Sky SUP, Yoga & Fitness and Paddle Into Fitness . She is a certified Paddle Canada SUP Instructor, SUP Yoga & SUP Fitness Instructor, and Certified Canfitpro Personal Trainer based in North Vancouver, British Columbia.