The 3 Best Stretches for Windsurfing

Improve your windsurfing and minimize injuries with 3 of the best windsurfing stretches.

by Brad Walker | First Published February 22, 2009 | Updated May 6, 2019
In 1948, Newman Darby attached a “free sail” to a surf board. In 1964 he started making and selling his “sail boards” but the idea never took off and the business was folded within a few years.

In 1968, Jim Drake (a sailor) and Hoyle Schweitzer (a surfer) combined their sports to start a new hybrid sport called Windsurfing. They applied for patents for their new design and started Windsurfing International.

The rigging for the sail was attached to the board with a universal joint, which allowed free movement of the sail. Steering could be accomplished without the use of a rudder. The same basic design is in use today.

Windsurfing Stretches and Flexibility Exercises

Muscles used in Surfing

Windsurfing can be enjoyed by people of all shapes and sizes, but a basic level of conditioning is important. Windsurfers should be able to swim in rough surf and be able to support themselves on the board while holding the rigging in place.

Lower body and core strength are important for the balance needed for windsurfing. Upper body strength is also important for controlling the sail in steering. Cardiovascular conditioning and muscular endurance are essential for successful windsurfing.

Windsurfing requires the use of the following major muscles:

  • The muscles of the upper legs and hips; the gluteals, the hamstrings, and the quadriceps.
  • The muscles of the lower leg; the gastrocnemius, the soleus and the anterior tibialis.
  • The core muscles; the rectus abdominus, obliques, and the spinal erectors.
  • The muscles of the shoulder girdle; the latissimus dorsi, the teres major, and the deltoids.

Most Common Windsurfing Injuries

As with any water sport, drowning is always a concern. Along with this possibility, the faster moving high-wind windsurfing can result in other water related injuries such as aspiration of water and eardrum ruptures. Traumatic, or acute injuries make up the majority of windsurfing injuries, although chronic injuries may still occur.

Windsurfing, when proper safety equipment is used, is relatively safe, but injuries do occur. Some common injuries associated with windsurfing include:

  • Concussion (usually from contact with the board);
  • Muscle bruises and contusions;
  • Lower back pain;
  • Shoulder injuries, including shoulder dislocation and rotator cuff tear or strain;
  • Knee injuries, including anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and medial collateral ligament (MCL) sprain, and meniscus tear; and
  • Foot and ankle injuries, including ankle sprain and/or fracture, and Lisfranc injury (fracture or dislocation of the bones in the mid-foot).
Stretches for Windsurfing

Injury Prevention Strategies

Proper equipment, good overall conditioning, and lessons to learn the sport before starting are all important preventative measures that should be practiced by all windsurfers. Plus…

  • Be sure to warm up and stretch before entering the water, as cold muscles are more prone to injury.
  • Conduct a thorough cool-down and perform gentle stretches after windsurfing.
  • Incorporate cardiovascular training to help prevent fatigue and other overuse injuries.
  • A solid strength training program will protect the joints and also help prevent many of the traumatic injuries associated with windsurfing.
  • A comprehensive set of windsurfing stretches, with extra work for the lower back and hamstrings, will help the windsurfer avoid many of the injuries incurred during their activity.
  • Frequent breaks and changing positions during long periods of windsurfing will help prevent the muscles from becoming tight and causing pain.
  • Becoming a competent swimmer in rough surf will keep the windsurfer safe, as well as providing a base of overall conditioning.
  • Never windsurf alone or in unsupervised areas.
  • Know the limits of your ability and avoid conditions that are too big or rough.
  • Never dive into shallow water, as serious risk exists for disabling neck and back injuries.
  • Proper equipment and clothing, including personal flotation devices and protective headgear, will help protect the windsurfer from concussion and drowning.
  • Proper sizing of the equipment for the activity and making sure the foot can release easily from the strap will also prevent some of the lower extremity injuries.
  • Use of drugs and alcohol should be strictly avoided before surfing, as judgment, orientation and thermal regulation are all impaired with drug and alcohol consumption.

The 3 Best Windsurfing Stretches

Windsurfing stretches are one of the most under-utilized techniques for improving athletic performance, preventing sports injury and properly rehabilitating sprain and strain injury. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that something as simple as stretching won’t be effective.

Below are 3 of the best stretches for windsurfing; obviously there are a lot more, but these are a great place to start. Please make special note of the instructions with each stretch, and if you currently have any chronic or recurring muscle or joint pain please take extra care when performing the stretches below, or consult with your physician or physical therapist before performing any of the following stretches.

Instructions: Slowly move into the stretch position until you feel a tension of about 7 out of 10. If you feel pain or discomfort you’ve pushed the stretch too far; back out of the stretch immediately. Hold the stretch position for 20 to 30 seconds while relaxing and breathing deeply. Come out of the stretch carefully and perform the stretch on the opposite side if necessary. Repeat 2 or 3 times.

Shoulder stretch for windsurfing
Reaching-up Shoulder Stretch: Place one hand behind your back and then reach up between your shoulder blades.
Core and side stretch for windsurfing
Rotating Core and Side Stretch: Lie face down and bring your hands close to your shoulders. Keep your hips on the ground, look forward and rise up by straightening your arms. The slowly bend one arm and rotate that shoulder towards the ground.
Hip and quad stretch for windsurfing
Kneeling Hip and Quad Stretch: Kneel on one foot and the other knee. If needed, hold on to something to keep your balance and then push your hips forward.

Want more Windsurfing Stretches?

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Research and References

Brad Walker - AKA The Stretch CoachAbout the Author: Brad Walker is often referred to as the "Stretch Coach" and has even been called the Stretching Guru. Magazines such as Runners World, Bicycling, Triathlete, Swimming & Fitness, and Triathlon Sports have all featured his work. Amazon (author page) has listed his books on five Best-Seller lists. Google cites over 100,000 references to him and his work on the internet. And satisfied customers from 122 countries have sent 1,000's of verified customer reviews. If you want to know about stretching, flexibility or sports injury management, Brad Walker is the go-to-guy.

Disclaimer: The health and fitness information presented on this website is intended as an educational resource and is not intended as a substitute for proper medical advice. Please consult your physician or physical therapist before performing any of the exercises described on this website, particularly if you are pregnant, elderly or have any chronic or recurring muscle or joint pain.

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