Warm Up Series: Surfing

posted in: shoulder | 0

SURFS UP!  3 ways to warm up your shoulders for that awesome swell!

Brought to you from the sand of Huntington Beach, California, Dr. Megan and local Chiropractor and surfer Dr. Louis Rice give some helpful tips on how to keep those shoulders injury-free while enjoying the surf.

There are a number of things that can go wrong while surfing.  These injuries vary from concussions, contusions, lacerations, and even shark bites (yikes!).  As clinicians we cant offer much advice as far as preventions from these traumatic injuries,  However, we can help you out with the very preventable overuse injury category, which makes up almost 98% of injuries.

Due to the biomechanics of swimming and paddling while surfing, you are likely to put a great deal of stress on your rotator cuff.  The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that keep the ball of the humerus in the correct position in the shoulder socket.   With a surfboard under your chest you are at even greater risk at overusing the rotator cuff muscles due to the inability to fully rotate your spine in the water.



Because of regular paddling we tend to become strong in the muscles that apply this upward force/pressure and relatively weak in the rotator cuff muscles that apply downward force/pressure. This can result in the ball of the arm bone sliding upwards in the shoulder joint compressing the space between the bones above. This places direct pressure on the rotator cuff tendons that sit in this space.

This pressure on the rotator cuff tendons is known as ‘Shoulder Impingement’. If this impingement is allowed to go on for an extended period of time it can cause small tears in the rotator cuff tendons, reduce blood supply and important nutrition to the shoulder joint. Over time this leads to chronic inflammation of the rotator cuff tendons, diagnosed or referred to as ‘Shoulder Tendinopathy’.

3 warm up exercises

2-3 rounds pre-surf

  1. 5 burpees – This will simulate the plank position on the board to that explosive     movement to get on your feet when you’re about to stand up on a wave.
  1. 10 plank roll outs – This will help warm up your midline while opening your thoracic spine for the rotation it needs for efficient paddling as well as doing maneuvers on your surfboard.
  1. 15 second arm circles 2x each direction – This will get the blood pumping to the rotator cuff muscles so they are activated and ready to fire while decreasing the risk of wear and tear in the joint.

Once you’ve warmed up, put on your leash, choose an empty peak, and let’s riiiiiiiide!

Orthopaedic Trauma Institute. Other Common Sports Injuries. http://orthosurg.ucsf.edu/oti/patient-care/divisions/sports-medicine/conditions/other-common-sports-injuries/surfing-injuries/

Johnson JN, Gauvin J, Fredericson M. Swimming biomechanics and injury prevention: new stroke techniques and medical considerations. Phys Sportsmed. 2003 Jan;31(1) 41-46. doi:10.3810/psm.2003.01.165. PubMed PMID: 20086441.