We’ve all been there, or at some stage, a sore or stiff lower back after a two-hour surf. In fact, the third most common injury that we see in surfers is a sore lower back. The core (which includes the back, which a lot of people don’t think about) is responsible for your balance and stability on the board, and having weaknesses throughout the core can lead to lower back pain.

The most common form of lower back pain when surfing is characterised by tight, spasmy muscles and a constant dull ache, and is most often caused by an over-arching low back and very stiff upper back.

But never fear – get going on the three exercises below to strengthen your core and back, and you’ll be right as rain!

Pelvic Tilting, good for many other things, which we dare not speak about here.

Exercise 1: Pelvic tilting

Yep, kinda like thrusting. This seems so simple and insignificant but is one of the most important exercises you can do for you lower back. The goal is to move your back in the direction it never moves in, improve mobility, plus it turns on your deep core muscles without you having to think about it. Multi-tasking at it’s best.

Simply get into the position in the photo, and then raise your bum off the ground and hold it for five seconds, then lower. Repeat this 10 times.


If you’re back is tight, this is a great one for releasing those lower muscles.

Exercise 2: Book Openings

Improving the mobility of your upper back will take a lot of load off your lower back. This exercise can be done anywhere and is great at free-ing you up. Focus: don’t let your hips roll back, keep them stacked throughout the movement. Repeat these 15 times.

These guys also double up as an excellent post-surf stretch.

Exercise 3: Childs Pose

The yogis know. Stretch out those over-active back muscles by embracing your inner child and spending some time on the floor in a nice comfortable stretch. Add to this stretch by moving both hands to one side of the body, then the other to work slightly different muscles. Do 15 of these.

Once you get to the end of your stretch circuit above, repeat it and do five sets. Remember nice, slow and controlled, working on your breathing between movements.

After a month of this, your lower back will be stretchier, and your core stronger. All of which will aid your surfing and recovery after a long surf.


Cara-Lee Goullée is a Senior Physio at Stoke Physio in North Beach. Hit her up on her contact details above if you need further advice!

Cover Photo: Julian’s power here is all driven by his core. Strong back equals strong core. Pic: WSL