When we go for a freestyle session, I often see my friends going straight into the hole without warming up, and throw difficult moves in their first ride. When I started paddling in France, my coach always always emphasised the importance of warming up before any session. I edited this video tutorial on how to warm up before a freestyle session to show a few exercices you can do before you go into the hole.
When you warm up, you want to increase your blood circulation and heart rate. Paddling for five minutes on flatwater warms up all your muscles. Then stretching, rotations and other movements will help you to warm up the “important” parts of your body such as the neck, shoulders and elbows. Warming up helps prevent injuries and dislocations, but it also makes you feel ready before you go for your first trick. Splashing your face with water or do a quick roll tells you how cold the water is, and it helps you get rid of that fear of cupsizing you have in your first rides when it’s really cold.
Stretching after your session is also important, especially if you paddle everyday. Some people will tell you to stretch when you get out of the water, and some will say to wait a few hours. Personally, I often wait till the next morning and I stretch for forty minutes when I wake up. Stretching helps you not to be (too) sore the next day, and also increase your mobility. Since I started to stretch once a week, I find that it made a huge difference on my freestyle technique!
Here is the video, if you want more info or want to tell me what you do when you warm up, you can send me a message on Facebook! Lucien