How to test your Balance for Paddle Boarding

Many people when starting out with Paddle Boarding are concerned that they will fall off. Of course this typically hurts nothing more than your pride but it is the one thing people think about. After all who hasn’t seen some ungainly person wobbling about amid a cheap rental paddle board at some holiday destination. No one wants to be that person right?  To have a good sense of balance is a great way to build confidence when learning this new skill. If you are interested, see how to improve balance as we discussed in the previous post. Today we are gong to share some of the best ways to test your balance before learning paddle boarding.  By testing balance and then following the balance exercises you can take an active part in assessing improvements in balance over time which I think is pretty cool!

There are several ways to test your balance for Paddle Boarding

  1. Static Balance Test: Stand with your feet close together and arms crossed over your chest. This should be pretty easy. However if you notice that you are swaying go back, start the exercise again. Time how long it takes before your body starts to sway. Next, close your eyes and try to maintain your balance for as long as possible. Again set a timer to see how long it takes before your body starts to sway if at all.
  2. Single Leg Stand: Stand on one leg with your knee slightly bent. Aim to maintain your balance for 30 seconds without touching the ground. Repeat with the other leg. Set a timer to record how long before you lose balance and need to put your raised foot down.
  3. Walking Heel-to-Toe: Walk in a straight line, placing the heel of your front foot directly in front of and touching the toe of your back foot with each step. Count the number of steps you can easily take before you start to wobble or veer from a straight path. This test challenges your balance and coordination.
  4. Other Balance Exercises: Repeat the heel to toe walk with your eyes closed and record your results. You need to make sure that you have plenty of room for this one. You might benefit from an observer who will notify you when you stop going in a straight line. Repeat the standing on one leg exercise this time with eyes closed. Ensure you have an obstruction free area. Gain the assistance of a friend if you need it. Place some cushions about for a softer landing if you fall. Standing on a balance board promotes balance. These can easily be found in most department stores or online. A substitute for a balance board is to use a foam pad or cushion instead. This allows you to get started straight away! Practice the static balance test first with the inner edge of your feet touching. Progress to balancing on one leg by repeating the Single Leg Stand.
  5. Performing yoga poses like Tree Pose or Warrior III are also a great way to test your balance. Set up a camera to film yourself in these poses. This way you can see how strong you appear in the pose when you play the clip back. Watch for a you wobble, a total loss of balance or whether you appear strong and grounded in the pose. Again you can use the video to time how long before you lose balance. As you practice the balance exercises re test and note any increases in time the pose is held.
  6. Professional Balance Assessment: As a chiropractor I assess my patients balance on initial visits and reassessment visits. I assess these along with proprioception (your sense of position in space). If you see a chiropractor or are thinking of consulting one discuss your interest in this type of assessment. That way your chiropractor can discuss this part of their findings in more depth.

Testing your balance helps you track improvements in Paddle Boarding

Understanding your bodies capacity to balance and self correct is empowering. It is also a great way to improve your confidence when learning to paddle board. Most people starting out take a little time to get their ‘sea legs’. Don’t be discouraged. With these methods you can also take your paddle boarding to the next level. As you gain confidence you might like to practice SUP Yoga, SUP surfing or maybe River SUP. All of these SUP styles need a greater ability to balance than what is required with calm flat water paddling. Greater balance helps with stability on your paddle board. This can also help with learning manoeuvres such as pivots, turns and other tricks. In turn this will give you greater confidence if you decide to move into racing and enduro events. It’s a win win!

If you have concerns about your balance consult with a healthcare professional for a comprehensive evaluation. As we get older we can lose our balance more easily but this shouldn’t be confused for underlying conditions. With balance testing and improvement exercises we can continue to improve regardless of age. A benefit to more areas of life than just paddle boarding.

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