Yes, foot stretching. As yogis, we stretch everything else so why not our precious feet too!
If you paddle board then you may have experienced that uncomfortable sensation in your feet after 30-60 minutes on your board. Paddling is a great work out for many our muscle groups, but let’s face it — our feet are what we complain about during a longer paddle!
Our toes can get numb, our heels can get achey, and our ankles begin to hurt. In fact, as a group, SUP yogis end up spending a lot of time standing on their heads or hands to relieve their feet of this petulant ache (or that’s our excuse anyway).
Try these 4 foot stretches and maneuvers to warm your feet up before you hop on your board, and maybe a few of them during the yoga portion of your SUPY adventure.
1. Rockin’ Toes
Going from toes to heels 15 times to open the fascia on the bottom of your feet is a great way to stretch out the soles of your feet, and you can do it while chatting to your paddle buddies without looking too crazy!
If you are on land try rotating the ankles 10 times in each direction too.
2. Awkward Pose
On land, stand with your feet hips width or closer, bend your knees making sure you can still see your toes in front of your knees. Stand on your toes and squeeze your ankles towards each other.
Yes, the crazy barometer just went up a little and your new found paddle friends will think you are trying to poop on the beach, but who will be laughing when your feet and ankles are less achy then theirs?! In yoga, this is “Extended Chair or Awkward Pose.”
It also warms up your quads and core for your paddle. Keep your tummy tucked to encourage engagement and spinal support, and swing your arms slowly from front to back to warm up your shoulders.
3. Modified Hero
This is a delicious ankle stretch! Sit on your heels in a “Japanese Seat” and lean back on your hands or forearms, depending on how open your quadriceps are. (If your knees get shooting pains here then back out carefully.)
Taking your weight in your arms, slowly lift your knees off the ground to open the tendons in the front of your ankles. Bonus: In SUP Yoga, this is a variation on “Saddle Pose.” You can also try lifting your chest and dropping your head back to stretch the chest and shoulder muscles out - yummy!
4. Turbo Dog or Dolphin Pose
Now come to your hands and knees, tuck all ten of those toes underneath you, gripping the board (tricky but worth it). Press your hands into the floor and rock your seat back onto your heels to open the bottom of your feet.
This one feels super good half way through your paddle too. To intensify the core, leg and shoulder work, hover your knees three inches off the board and press into your forearms or palms. Keep the knees bent and send your tailbone into that big blue sky.
There you go, your feet are all warmed up and ready to paddle the world, or just the lake in front of you.
Post paddle, take #3 again for a few moments before you dock. Then try pressing your knees back down and lift your hips up to reverse that paddlers posture. Simply the best way to end a paddle; sun drenched and upside down!