5 Wrong Warming Techniques Holding You Back
In our cold and windy beach lab, we have gone over the mistakes we have made on those days where we just got un-stoked early or just couldn't get into the zone. We found that it had everything to do with not prepping our bodies and minds properly beforehand. The list was initially pretty long, but we condensed it and here are the top 5 things we were doing wrong.
1. Grabbing for the cotton towel-
When you get out of the water, most people grab their cotton towel and put it over their shoulders. It ends up getting damp and you continue to use it to cover yourself when changing and then drying off. Then, it is placed over the body to "warm up." In the end, this cotton towel is actually now a cooling barrier between you and the elements and will only continue to make you colder. Continuing to be cold throughout the day will only harm your body and mind(see #3).
2. Not warming up enough before getting in
When heading out for a session, whether it is walking across the sand or via a windy boat ride, getting properly warmed up and staying warm before entering the water will actually allow your body to withstand the cold longer - which means you will be able to stay out comfortably longer - which means your muscles will be ready to go - which means your stoke-o-meter will be considerably higher that day.
3. Not warming up properly inbetween dives/sessions
When you body starts losing heat (anything below 95 degrees), it goes into mild hypothermia. Circadian rhythms then kick in to survival mode and your brain starts to shut things down. First, your brain tells you it's time to take a nap and preserve energy so, you get sleepy. The lower pressure outside increases our wish to stay warm and cozy. Second, your reaction time slows due to the sleepiness (which will effect your lobster grab). Thirdly, the brain tells the body to protect the core and send less blood supply to the extremities in order to preserve body heat in the core, torso and head (www.coolantarctica.com). This effects muscles and reaction time some more.
4. Drinking a lot of caffeine beforehand
This is especially important for freedivers, but it increases your heart rate and it is harder to slow down the breathing and stay calm before a dive down. But more importantly, caffeine is a laxative which is not something you want to take before heading out for a session and laying on your bowels on your surfboard ... or have them squeezed by the pressure of going down 50-60 feet and up again 50 times in a dive. Ever see a hole in in the butt of someone's farmer johns? Things can get to the 911 status pretty quickly.
5. Not wearing properly fitted gear
Wearing a wetsuit that is too loose or tight will kill any session early. My own personal story was when I was on a freedive trip in Bali. I brought my own custom 7mm suit to dive in, but most of the other women on the dive boat were wearing rented wetsuits that were men's and at least a size too big. We went for an hour dive, but after only 30 minutes, me and the instructor were the only ones left. I couldn't understand why any of the other divers left the beautiful waters with 60 foot vis and tropical fish everywhere...and a master freediver teaching us new tricks. I later found out that everyone was completely frozen and shivering on the boat. And they continued to shiver the rest of the day and didn't reenter the water again. Many fell asleep on the boat ride back covered up with layers of damp towels and sweatshirts. All were suffering from mild hypothermia and were not equipped with the right gear to rewarm them.
No one brought a windproof polyester fleece hoodie (except for me) because they thought they were in Bali where it's hot all the time. But, water cools your body down 12 times faster than in air of the same temperature so, be a knowledgeable waterman and always be prepared for an underwater cold snap or windy rain storm.
A few quick tips for getting warm;
Tip #1. After getting out of the water, put something over you to block the wind as soon as possible. Choose something that is made of a synthetic material - like our Surf-fur products- or wool as it is a natural waterproof material. If you have nothing to put over your wetsuit right away, remove your wetsuit and get something fluffy and synthetic to put on. As long as you are dry and not sitting in mist or rain, putting on a cotton layer after being completely dry would be fine at that point.
Tip #2. Getting your feet and neck warm is next. Putting on a pair of wool socks is super key to getting your feet warm again. Uggs are a good choice too, but those will get wet and sandy unless you put a pair of thin silk socks on first. Then, get something wrapped around your neck asap! Our parkas have a built-in neck cozy that you just snap shut, but even using your t-shirt to wrap around your neck is good for a quick warming session.
Tip #3. When rewarming, make sure you get to the point where you are almost sweating. This is a sign that you have properly rewarmed your body and it's ready for another watery session!
Next month, look our for our full article of proper warming techniques. We barely scratched the surface!