Get Free Training Tips & More

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for your FREE Suzie Trains Maui Email Newsletter
Get Social!

Like us on Facebook!

Follow Us on Twitter

Follow @SuzieTrainsMaui on twitter.

Follow us on Instagram!



SUP Pro Talk with Suzie Cooney

Improve Balance & Reaction Time: Indo Board Training Gear & Suzie on the New “Gigante” 24″ Disc

Maui Wave Action!

Waves are a force of nature like no other. Susan does a superb job to illustrate this and more. A great read!


Surf Stronger Order This!

Maui, Hawaii:Fourth Annual OluKai Ho'olaule'a Highlights, Photos and Race Results

Fourth Annual OluKai Ho’olaule’a May 12th & 13th, 2012

An amazing turnout of over 500 ocean enthusiasts and competitors from around the globe converged on the beautiful island of Maui this weekend May 12th & 13th, 2012 to celebrate OluKai Premium Footwear’s highly revered fourth annual downwind SUP and OC1 race, called the Ho’olau’le’a which translates as “celebration.”   The community and visitors came together in the spirit of “ohana” to share, give, and celebrate the ocean.

This highly anticipated event brought beginners, novice and elite ocean athletes together to experience the famed 8 mile stretch of open ocean paddling known as the Maliko downwind run. This stretch of water is fast and offers a unique perspective of racing and spectacular views of Maui’s North shore.

(Full Results link & fabulous photos below)

Part of the proceeds raised benefit the OluKai ‘Ohana Giveback Program; beneficiaries include Maui Cultural Lands and Hawaii’s Junior Lifeguard Program. Click here to learn more about the OluKai Ohana Giveback Program.

A special pre race event offered to those who weren’t quite ready for the 8 mile race, was the non-competitive Fun Paddle Division that was as popular as ever, held prior to the main SUP event. The three mile course from Paia Bay to Kanaha Beach Park gave a taste of the big course to those who aspire to one day advance to Maliko. I had the pleasure of preparing this group with a practice paddle a couple weeks before to get those a little anxious, relaxed and ready.  ( see photos and highlights here ). The Fun Paddle Division allows any age, all levels and anything humanly paddle powered.

The OluKai Team greeted and checked everyone in at the Paia Youth & Cultural Center where the paddle began. Music played in the courtyard, safety skis arrived, boards were everywhere and there some nervous jitters as well. After the safety meeting, I lead the group with a few warm-up exercises as 80 paddlers prepared for their downwind experience. We had participants that traveled from Delaware, Oregon and as far away as Australia just for this fun paddle.

Continue reading Maui, Hawaii:Fourth Annual OluKai Ho’olaule’a Highlights, Photos and Race Results

Sports Massage Can Assist Stand Up Paddlers and All Athletes Recover More Quickly and Help Those With Shoulder Pain

I’ve asked Marc Hartung, professional massage therapist on Maui, to share his experience, as the lead massage director at the recent Naish Paddle Board and SUP Championships on Maui, July 18, 2010. All the tables were full as his team provided over 50 of the competitors a soothing post-event massage.  Also read his special note on pre event massage.

Getting a sports massage can make a  huge difference post event or race!

Getting a sports massage can make a huge difference post event or race!

Stand up paddling does have its own over use and injury list. Common among them are strains to the shoulder complex and rotator cuff muscles. I too suffer from a worn out supraspinatus and infraspinatus weakness that I had Marc attend to for me the next day after the muscles calmed down a bit. I had pain and numbness radiating down my shoulder like Marc describes in other competitors that checked in.

As a stand up paddler himself, his knowledge of the muscle groups that function together that allow for normal paddling efficiencies is very key in addressing one’s complaints and soreness.

Read more from Marc and learn more about how his tips and information may help you.

Marc writes:

This past Sunday I supervised a group of students from The Maui School of Therapeutic Massage, providing post event massage for competitors in the 2010 Naish standup paddleboard race.  I personal only worked on two people, while I managed and screened the crowd of competitors waiting for massage, making sure they were rinsed off and well hydrated before they got on the table. 

The two competitors I had the pleasure of working with were brought to my attention by some of the students.  One complained of a burning sensation radiating from his elbow up to his shoulder and down to his hand, and the other, with numbness radiating down from his shoulder through his pinky finger.  These can be common nerve entrapment injuries with chronic tension and overuse of certain muscle groups.   When addressed early they can often be quickly relieved and eliminated with massage. 

 Stand up paddling works a lot of muscles and is well known for being a great core workout. It also requires a lot of work from stabilizers of the shoulder girdle. The paddle stroke is a combination of medial rotation and abduction (of the top hand).  This requires the work of subscapularis, latissimus dorsi, pec. minor, pec. major, and teres major along with deltoid and supraspinatus to lift the arm up. The bottom hand is mostly stabilizing to transfer the rotation of the trunk to the paddle the muscles used to stabilize are mainly latissimus dorsi rhomboids, triceps, and middle fibers of the traps.  (For more information on the anatomy of the shoulder click here:)

Muscles of the rotator cuff

Muscles of the rotator cuff

I have found with my clients that massage is crucial in preventing nerve entrapment or overuse injuries, as well as speeding recovery from training and competing.  The sooner you address tension or injuries the easier and faster they respond, allowing you to build strength with out developing tension or muscle imbalance.

A special note about “pre race” massage:

Pre event massage can happen as soon as 24 hours before the event to as close as during or following your warm up for the event. 

 Athletes are all particular about there preparation, some like to be relaxed some prefer a level of mental stress or “psych”, along with warming up some athletes like to keep there muscles tight and some like to stretch out and be real loose, and sometimes a bit of both in varying muscle groups.  It can change drastically with different activities and especially between athletes.

With all that in consideration there are many benefits to pre race massage.  A massage can help reduce anxiety (anxiety and stress alone can ruin performance).  Massage can also help warm muscles and be included in your warm up routine to help prevent injury.  Massage can either help to stretch and lengthen muscles or not depending on preference.  Massage can can also stimulate increased motor neuron activity for faster and stronger contraction of muscles. Just make sure your massage therapist is aware of your goals and needs. 

Clay Everline, M.D. of Waves of Health writes:

Rotator Cuff Strain and Impingement

A rotator cuff injury is a strain or tear in the group of tendons and muscles that hold your shoulder joint together and help move your shoulder. It is exacerbated by use of your shoulder in sports with a repetitive overhead movement, such as swimming, baseball (mainly pitchers), football, tennis and SUP, which gradually strains the tendon. Poor shoulder posture compounds this problem. Avoid flexing the shoulder overhead when initiating the SUP stroke. Make sure to be even and symmtric through the strokes.

Ice massage and perform these exercises to rehab the shoulder:  For more helpful information on tips on how to strengthen your rotator cuff muscles from Clay.. click here:

 mark h

Marc Hartung is a therapeutic/sports massage therapist on Maui, specializing in working with athletes and people with chronic pain. Marc is also a clinical supervisor at the Maui School of Therapeutic Massage.   (808) 344-7711  (808) 344-7711
   Thanks Marc for sharing your advice and helping my shoulder recover too! 


      Suzie Cooney, CPT   Suzie Trains Maui



Surfing to Stay Fit, Lose Weight and what Beginners Should Know. Also, what Muscle Groups are Affected and How to Stay Safe

Surfing to Stay Fit, Lose Weight and What Beginners Should Know. Also, Which Muscle Groups are Affected and How to Stay Safe on the Waves

Suzie Cooney, CPT Suzie Trains Maui


Surfing is amazing sport that requires endurance, upper and lower body strength and also good flexibility. What’s great about surfing, is that it’s really a total body sport and get’s you toned and in shape. Most surfers I know are in amazing shape from head to toe!

You can burn a great deal of calories while surfing. Even as a beginner you will challenge muscles you may have not even knew you had! As you are “pulling” your arms through the water as you paddle, that additional resistance is really a workout. Since you are also in the “prone” or face down position, while you are paddling, this places a little more stress on your heart, therefore an opportunity to perform a little cardio.

So most definitely if you are embarking on a weight loss program, surfing can do wonders for the entire body. I encourage all my clients to give it a try to mix up their routine and keep things fresh. They are all so amazed on how strong and lean they can get fast. You don’t see too many out of shape surfers!

Surfing vs. other sports (surfing benefits in staying fit and losing weight)
Our Paige Alms ripp'n at Hookipa  Photo by Simone Reddingius

Our Paige Alms ripp'n at Hookipa Photo by Simone Reddingius

Surfing has so many wonderful health benefits to keep you fit and keep the weight off. Besides being super fun and probably the most challenging sport you’ll ever try, the long-term results are your reward. You have to realize that water is constantly moving in all directions, say vs. a tennis court. Tennis of course is a great sport that definitely gets you in shape, but it doesn’t require the same extra challenges. Surfing requires you to have good balance, fast reactions, and to recruit so many more muscles. It is an explosive movement to hop to your feet and then stabilize and react to the wave or other surfers that may be near you. Also, as mentioned earlier, surfing requires total body endurance which equals more calories burned!

Muscles We Use to Surf

The main muscles that are used are the upper back, lats, shoulders, lower back, neck and legs. Your core muscles, (rectus abdominis, erector spinae, multifidus, internal/external obliques, transverse abdominis, hip flexors) is where all movement begins; must work in unison to keep you stable and steady as you paddle. Your triceps and chest muscles are the ones that will help you push up quickly to your feet. Your upper back and neck muscles assist in keeping your chest up off the nose of the board, so you can be more efficient as you paddle. The low back muscles work hard to support your entire upper body as you paddle. Finally, your legs are the power house that get’s you up to your feet fast and helps you carve your turns or hang ten on the nose!

Exercises and stretches to do before surfing and in the gym.

There are many great exercises and stretches a beginner surfer should learn, that will make surfing way more fun and allow you to last longer on the water. Although there are many theories as to when and how one should stretch, I recommend that before you hit the water one should perform “active” stretches that actually mimic surfing. Active stretching is different than static stretching or holding a stretch for more than 30 seconds. When you are not on the water and are training for your surf sessions, specific surf conditioning exercises are very critical to help build better endurance and strength.

An example of an active stretch would simply be standing on the beach; feet shoulder width apart, and moving your arms independently in large forward and backward circles. A count of 10-15 reps each side is good. Also, head rolls for your neck. Same position, shoulders loose, tilt head down, slowly roll up to the right and then left. A few times each side. Also, quick leg squats to help you to your feet faster and warm up the hips and legs. Stand with feet a little wider than shoulder width apart, toes pointed at 10 and 2 o’clock, grasp hands together in front and at a pace that’s a little fast, squat down then drive up through the heels, down then up. About 10-15 reps is great. You can also throw in some side and forward bends. Lastly, quick shoulder shrugs up and down, then wax and go!

Exercises in the gym or at home could include, lat pull downs, lots of push – ups ( knee bent is fine ), burpees, leg squats and lunges, tricep pull downs, low back exercises and a great deal of core work. For surf conditioning, remember it’s about total body endurance, not lifting a huge amount of weight, but increasing your reps.

IndoBoard Push Up on Disc

IndoBoard Push Up on Disc

Indo Board Push Up on Disc

Indo Board Push Up on Disc

Check out a few of my beginner and advanced exercises at You’ll notice most surfers are lean and don’t have a huge amount of bulk. I’ve trained really big athletes who are professionals and they can’t move as easily, nor are they as quick to their feet. But don’t let that discourage you.

Balance training is also critical to ensure your pop ups are smooth and stable. I have all kinds of training toys that mimic surfing. My favorite is the Indo Board. Copy of INDO 003It’s like training your brain and all the finite muscles that help stabilize the larger muscles of the hips and legs. You can practice standing on one leg and then moving that leg in all planes; front, side and back. To make more challenging, hold an 8lb medicine ball or dumb bell with arms extended in front of you. You can also try and kneel on a stability ball. I love this.. Not only are you helping your balance, you are training your core too. This is an advanced move, to if you would like to attempt this exercise; you may want to hold onto to a sturdy object.

Examples of good surf specific exercises are tricep dips, tricep kickbacks and tricep presses as suggested earlier. In addition, shoulder and lat pull downs, shoulder presses with lighter weights, variations of chest presses or pushups, single leg squats, and burpees ( dropping down into the push up position, then quickly jumping to your feet, then jump in the air ). Or simply, practice your pop ups by lying on the ground like you are paddling. Looking ahead to where you want to go, then in one fell swoop, up to your feet! Do about 10 of these and you’ll be getting your heart rate up!

Is surfing for everybody? Are there medical conditions that affect surfing that beginner surfer should know about?

Continue reading Surfing to Stay Fit, Lose Weight and what Beginners Should Know. Also, what Muscle Groups are Affected and How to Stay Safe

Surf Longer and Stronger with Surf INDO Board Disc Push Ups

Surf Indo Board Disc Push Ups
Don’t let your Arms Burn Out Before you Do!


This is a semi-advanced exercise that targets the triceps, shoulders and chest and is what I have my surfers try. Even great for non-surfers!



Difficulty Level: Intermediate to Advanced

Muscle Group(s): Triceps, shoulder and chest. Great for core stability and mimics what your surfboard might feel like underneath you! I love this one.

Equipment: Inflated balance disc and the INDO Board

Progression: Raise one leg off the floor, or place feet on a BOSU dome or another inflated disc.

Preparation: Assume the push up position. If you are a beginner, you can bend your knees. Make sure the disc is centered underneath the INDO Board.



NOTE: If the disc is over inflated it will be much harder, than if it’s softer. Legs extended on floor.

Movement: From the start position, lower your chest to the INDO and then press up into the push up.



Push up with the strength of your entire shoulder girdle back to a straight-arm position.

Repeat movement sequence for recommended repetitions.

Rip it up!  Suzie Cooney, CPT

Get your INDO board here.

Follow Suzie on Face Book: