Categories: water sports, windsurfing

Windsurfing and fitness


There are a few things that are particularly relevant to consider in order to minimize windsurfing (in here: ) injuries. Wearing shoes may prevent lacerations, abrasions and splinters. Wearing a wetsuit is common practice and this can protect against jellyfish stings. Muscle strain is common in strong winds and it is essential to use the appropriate sail size to avoid overpower situations.

For recreational windsurfers, it is common that collision with the equipment is an injury contributing factor.

Recreational windsurfers may benefit from changing or adapting the equipment by raising the boom or using a harness and a helmet to prevent injury. Research calls for foot straps that can release at a certain amount of pressure in order to minimize ankle and knee injuries. Manufacturers of windsurfing equipment have a significant responsibility to develop equipment that minimize the risk for injury. Studies also claim that greater upper and lower body strength as well as warming up and stretching are extremely effective ways to prevent injuries. I suggest taking a longer break after sailing for about one hour as this may help to prevent injuries caused by physical tiredness.


Ligaments and tendons are exposed to windsurfing. Even though ligaments and tendons are possible to train they have a longer adaptation period and need more time to develop in strength than muscles. Research points to the necessity of having good flexibility in the interior pectorals and the shoulder joints.

The hugely diverse movements in windsurfing can demand a lot from a collection of muscles, especially for beginners.

A beginner may increasingly strain the muscles and constantly contract them when he or she is sailing. This will drastically increase the lactic acid accumulation in the muscles. As the technique improves it will be physically less strenuous to windsurf. The intense physical demands of windsurfing at a higher level often means a greater risk for serious injuries. It is particularly important for these athletes to consider the issue of injury prevention through a thorough training program. Any windsurfer needs to obtain and maintain endurance, strength and power in order to deliver the best results on the water. In order to do so, he/she needs a workout program specifically adapted to windsurfing and periodized as well as divided into different levels depending on the individuals experience of strength training.


In short, the aerobic energy system develops low intensity power over a long time, and the anaerobic energy system develops explosive power over a short period of time. Aerobic activity (commonly called cardio) means that the body create energy with oxygen. During anaerobic activity the body creates energy without oxygen.

When the body performs anaerobic activity, the body does not have sufficient access to oxygen, and it must acquire its energy through a process called glycolysis. This is when lactic acid build-up occurs. A prime example of anaerobic activity is strength training. Whereas aerobic fitness is a measure of how well the body can utilize the oxygen during physical activity. Windsurfing requires both good anaerobic and aerobic capacity.

Therefore, it is necessary to do both strength training and cardiovascular exercise to train the body adequately for windsurfing.


Several studies indicate that windsurfing can demand a great deal of aerobic fitness, but can sometimes be perceived as less strenuous than it is. It is clear that physical fitness and good sailing technique are key factors to performing well on the water and avoiding injuries. Research demonstrates that is important for windsurfers to be able to maintain a high heart rate in long periods, but also to be able to handle a high level of lactic acid build up in the body. This is because windsurfing demands a variety of dynamic and static muscular contractions of the muscles around the arms, forearms, thighs and trunk and upper body.

The intensity of sailing and the sailing technique as well as the weather conditions effect how aerobically demanding this sport may be. A study of a windsurfing competition at the Olympic Games showed that pumping leads to a high heart rate and may require up to three times as much of an individual’s aerobic capacity than not pumping. As previously explained, the body needs oxygen to produce aerobic energy. How much oxygen your body is able to consume at any given time depend on a range of factors from the first inhalation to the lungs and to the cells power producers that convert energy into forms that are usable by the cell.

General benefits of aerobic training

  • Increased endurance
  • Activates your immune system
  • Reduce the risk of obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke and certain types of cancer.
  • Increases metabolism and the body’s ability to burn fat.
  • The speed in which the muscles are refuelled with energy will increase with good aerobic fitness.
  • Strengthens the heart and arteries.