No matter what sport or physical activity you enjoy, paddle boarding is the perfect cross-training tool for you. Stand up paddle boarding is a low-impact, full-body workout with fitness benefits that can’t be denied. Whether you’re a runner, cyclist, weightlifter, or traditional multi-sport athlete, it’s time you learned why paddle board cross-training is the edge you need to beat your competition and personal records next season.
Did you know that sports-related injuries are skyrocketing for professionals and student-athletes alike? According to the National Safety Council, “exercise and exercise equipment” are responsible for the majority of visits to the emergency room for athletes. Many of these injuries and emergency room visits could be avoided with a cross-training plan that strengthens core muscles, increases endurance, and gives your most-stressed muscle groups a break from the abuse of hyper-focused sports training.
What Muscles Does Paddle Boarding Target?
Gliding across the water on a stand up paddle board puts nearly every muscle in the body to work, but your core or trunk is the biggest beneficiary of all. The simple act of standing on a paddle board requires the dynamic coordination of multiple muscles across the limbs and trunk. During a paddle stroke, your shoulders (deltoids), arms (triceps & biceps), mid-back (latissimus Dorsi) and abdominals do most of the work. But everything from your neck muscles (sternocleidomastoid and trapezius) down to the 100 tendons, muscles, and ligaments in your feet contribute to your motion in the water. And with so many muscles activated during a paddling session, stress on any single muscle group is greatly reduced, making for a gentle but effective cross-training exercise.
What Athletic Benefits Does Paddle Board Cross-Training Offer?
Dynamic balance is critical to every sports endeavor, but especially when it comes to efficiency and injury prevention. If you don’t exercise the correct muscles for balance, your body spends energy compensating through smaller muscles that are ill-equipped for the task, often leading to injuries. Maintaining a powerful paddling stroke forces you into a balanced position on your board and strengthens the correct muscles for balance.
Endurance is often what separates the great athletes from the rest. Many athletes turn to running for endurance training in the off-season, but this high-impact activity places an immense strain on your knees and feet. Paddling offers the same benefits as running for endurance -- increased lung volume, more red blood cells, more mitochondria, and a denser capillary network -- without the high-impact consequences of runner’s knee and plantar fasciitis.
- Core muscles stabilize your spine to provide support for every sports activity. When any of the five major muscles of the trunk are out of balance, pain can be expected in other places of the body. Paddleboarding offers a way to correct the imbalance by focusing on one side of the body to paddle, or a way to grow strength evenly by switching sides in equal intervals.
Other Reasons To Love Paddle Board Cross-Training
Having fun when training in the off-season can’t be understated. Staying motivated when you’re not able to participate in your favorite sports activities is a challenge for athletes from every discipline. Paddle boarding is the world’s fastest-growing water sport because, above all else, it’s fun! And if it’s fun, putting in the time it takes to stay in top shape is that much easier.
- Variable-intensity makes paddle boarding the cross-training tool for every athlete. Casual, touring, and racing cover the three intensity levels available to get your heart rate up, burning up to 430, 708, and 1,125 calories per hour, respectively. Being able to mix up your intensity during a cross-training session keeps things interesting and helps teach effective pacing you can use when your real sport is back in season.
Anyone can learn how to paddle board. While you may not live near the ocean, even though most Americans live less than an hour’s drive from the coast, you probably do live near one of the 117 million lakes on Earth. And if you don’t know where to start your first paddling adventure, there’s no shortage of articles on the best places to paddle board near you.
- Vitamin D isn't available inside a gym. From as far back as the 1930s, researchers have found that athletes perform better in summer than winter months, noting a difference in the sunshine vitamin between seasons. On a sunny day surrounded by reflective water, the top of a stand up paddle board is one of the best places to get your natural and necessary dose of vitamin D.
Stand up paddle board cross-training is something every athlete should consider. It’s an easy way to stay motivated in the off-season, improve your balance, strengthen your core muscles, increase your endurance, and most importantly, have a great time while training. You’ll burn more calories per hour than running and put less stress on your body in the process, which should make you wonder why your trainer hasn’t suggested it already!