Photo by: Mandy McMurdo – Unique Photography
My dancing days were over, but the chronic hip pain was still there. Even after years of dancing for a living, teaching yoga and fitness, I hadn’t healed my chronic hip issue of being overly rotated and overused; and then there was the genetic issue of my “genu valgum” or “knock-kneed” issue which kept me out of alignment in my hips.
Chiropractors temporarily relieved the pain, massage freed up some scar tissue, but nothing was healing the day to day throbbing pain, and the night-time throb was even worse.
That is, until I stood up….on a paddleboard.
Finally at 33 years of age, I’ve found something that not only provides me with exercise and fitness, but also therapy too!
Life-changing: Falling in Love With Sup
In 2008, I stood up on a paddle board for the first time, and fell in love. I felt something in my body I had never felt before. Little did I know then it was perfect anatomical alignment. Over time, the more I paddled, the more my hip pain went away, the more my chronic tight shoulder impingement bothered me less, and the more my legs actually began to be less and less “knock-kneed”, believe it or not.
I began researching and trying to understand why I was feeling better, just by standing on top of the water on a 10 foot board. And then I began to see it in my clients too. As I had started offering yoga and fitness classes on the board, more and more of my clients, commented on how their body seemed to use muscles they had never used before.
The more I thought about it, the more it made sense. Standing on the board, with feet hip width apart, knees slightly bent, and keeping your core engaged, forces you to be in an anatomical, a healthy position for optimal body alignment. On land, we tend to keep weight on one foot when we stand, or place weight on insides of the feet allowing knees to fall inward, or jut hips forward, slouching the upper body and locking the knees, all of which you are unable to do on a SUP or you will fall.
Stand Up Paddleboarding: The perfect position
The board requires you to stand in the most perfect position: your feet are required by the board for balance and placed hip-width apart; you must keep a soft micro-bend in the knees; the thigh bones are gently held back in the hip socket as you stroke; and there is a natural curve in the lumbar spine. With a proper stroke technique, the shoulder blades are hugged back and the shoulders are stacked at the “catch” of the stroke, and of course, the core is ignited to stabilize you on the board, leading to safe joints, a mobile spine and strengthened muscles overall.
So, is SUP actually therapeutic?
After only 1 year on the board, I realized my throbbing hip pain was almost gone. After my third year of teaching and paddling, my hip pain never showed up again. My shoulder which used to get strained and over-worked in the gym and would periodically give out on me, never gave me an issue again.
After my third year of teaching and paddling, my hip pain never showed up again
Now fast forward 5 years later, and my genu valgum, or “knock kneed”-ness, is hardly noticeable. In pictures I can clearly see the angle of my legs folding inward is significantly less, and I live without runner’s knees, and sporadic sciatic issues like I used to. Not only has stand up paddling chiseled my core like never before, but in my opinion, it also has had therapeutic benefits on my body like no other exercise has.
The Perfect Combination of Exercise, Fitness and Therapy
And believe me, as a Fitness Instructor and Personal Trainer, I’ve done every exercise there is: pilates, yoga, kickboxing, strength training, periodization, tai chi, running, band work, barre work – you name it, I’ve exhausted it. And finally at 33 years of age, I’ve found something that not only provides me with exercise and fitness, but also therapy too… and I’ve never been in better shape.
I recently secured this as truth by attending a SUP Yoga Therapist Certification program to learn more aspects of how to help my clientele use SUP-ing as a mode of physical therapy. The results have been amazing, and I’ve heard from many different SUP enthusiasts how this growing water sport has not only created a fun way to spend their days, but also, created a more healthy, and fit version of themselves.
Take A Stand For Yourself – Part 2 of “Stand Up Paddling…The Cure for What Ails You.”
Need more proof that SUP can be therapy to an ailing body? In Part 2 of this article I’ll be listing some common sense approaches as to why you should rehab your body with by standing up on a board: http://standupjournal.com/take-a-stand-for-yourself/