Paddle’s up, dude

Paddleboarding combines the best of two worlds –the exhilaration of surfing and the relaxation of rowing down a river.

The sport started in Hawaii about a decade ago. It gained popularity in East Asia and California and, most recently, South Florida.

Using a board very similar to a surfboard and a paddle,  athletes paddle through rough waters or calm lakes. Shirley Lowe, partner of Paddleboard Miami, said her favorite part of paddleboarding is its versatility.

“It can be a leisurely or an intense workout,” she said. “You can do it in calm waters but also in rough waters and it attracts a range of all different kinds of people.”

Lowe said paddleboarding attracts so many people because it can be done by anyone. She said she has had students with knee injuries who want to exercise their upper bodies and try something new.

However, Steve Pfister, director of rehabilitation and assistant professor in the College of Allied Health and Nursing, said it is important that people check with their physicians before practicing the sport, especially if they have an injury like in the shoulder.

“It should be evaluated on a case by case basis,” Pfister said “It doesn’t mean that it’s bad for everyone with a shoulder problem. It may mean that you just need to be more careful but it doesn’t necessarily exclude you from doing the sport.”

But if you do practice the sport, it has many medical benefits, said Pradeep Vanguri, assistant professor in the Farquhar College of Arts and Sciences and the clinical coordinator for  the athletic training education program. He said that because it is a cardiovascular exercise, paddleboarding is good for the heart.

Paddleboarding also strengthens core muscles, which can boost performance in other sports said Vanguri.

“It’s a great exercise to be able to get out on the water to work on skills like balance and coordination,” said Vanguri. “It helps students’ posture and gives them skills they can transfer to other areas and sports.”

Lowe said people even practice yoga and stretch while paddleboarding. She also said runners, swimmers and other athletes could benefit from it.

“It is a good cross-training activity for athletes to train off season,” said Lowe.

Although the sport has become more popular in the past two years, Lowe said a lot of people still do not know about it but expects to see an increase in popularity over the next five years.

She said everyone should try it.

“Especially, adventurous and eco-friendly people who want to see nature as it is, using something as simple as a paddleboard and a paddle should try it,” she said.

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