You’ve felt it, right?
When your foot cramps up like there’s an iron ball in the arch of your sole. Or the morning after, when you can’t walk up a staircase without wincing from the pain that’s coursing throughout your poor, oh so sore, joints?
Well, so have I.
And after doing extensive (ahem) research, I’ve made the executive decision that these 3 exercises could very well keep YOU from ending the day with weak inner thighs, swollen ankles, achy achy joints, or even a crippling fall. That’s right, keep reading, and you’ll fall 50% less than if you hadn’t. Probably.
First, some heel drops for your ankles and thighs:
As we longboard, we constantly rely on our ankles to support our weight as we sway through carves, hold out humongous slides, or even cross-step down a humongous longboard. In conclusion, they never get a break. And this is a humongous problem.
Maybe you’ve experienced this before, but maybe not. Swollen ankles and sore calf muscles are common after long slide or cruise sessions, and I’ve experienced this. I’ve also experienced how doing heel drops can really help assuage these longboarding ailments.
The heel drop is a personal favorite, before and after longboarding, because I can almost visualize my muscle tendons being stretched out as push my heel halfway to China. I use these to strengthen my ankles as well as warm up my calf muscles for harder carving and slides. Feeling the burn is the goal with any stretch, but I think this is the only one that actually feels good.
But maybe that’s just me?
Next, take care of those thighs with some butterflies:
Thighs, inner thighs, to be exact, have never been a recreational focus of mine. But apparently, not tending (you get it, right?) to them properly can come back and bite you in the butt. Most of us don’t regularly exercise our inner thighs, so when we try a new trick or have the misfortune of falling a new way, the muscles we count on to keep our legs in control will stress out, fail to do so and will not hesitate to remind us of that fact in the morning. Ouch. That’s why I started doing the butterfly stretch again. Yay…
Use your elbows to press down on your legs so your knees move closer to the floor. This is a static stretch, so take your time and breathe into it. Just in case you forgot your middle school gym routine. These are very uncomfortable and require commitment, but they’ll keep you from limping up the stairs, so do ’em.
Lastly, side planks to boost balance (and safety!) :
After reading a study on how hockey players who could hold a minute long plank with good form were 80% LESS LIKELY to be injured in a given season, I immediately incorporated side-planks into my longboard warm up routine. And it was true! I started falling less and, in turn, injuring myself less.
Basically, side-planks strengthen your core as well as your thigh muscles and are extremely beneficial to balance and injury prevention. Like the butterfly stretch, side-planks have a propensity to exercise those muscles that might not get as much love as other areas of your body from daily life. Work up to at least a minute with good form, just like those hockey players, and remember to breath throughout. It’s easy to lose your form but you’ll get the most out of planks when you keep a straight line from your ankles, through your spine, and to your head, while consciously engaging your core.
Incorporate, don’t concentrate:
Now, I’m not saying do these 3 things and nothing else. But rather, consciously incorporate them into your existing routine (do them already? good for you!), remember how you felt before you started these 3 exercises, and decide what’s best for you and your style. I wrote this post because I’ve experienced the benefits of these exercises, ESPECIALLY with respect to a longboarding lifestyle.
Have fun, be safe, and have a super cool day!