Shoulders are surfing. We spend 80% or more lying prone and paddling around and out to a line up, then we do actually standing on our board catching waves. So, without question they’re the most used and abused part of any surfer’s body, and as such they’re prone to some pretty gnarly injuries. From constant paddling to pushing up, if you have bad form or any slight pain, then shoulder injuries can come on quickly. The most common shoulder injury for surfers is shoulder impingement. This injury is characterised by pain at the front of the shoulder, most commonly when paddling and is most often caused by shoulders rolling too far forward.

But shoulder injuries aren’t inevitable for surfers – check out the three exercises below that will strengthen your shoulders and keep you in the water.

Exercise 1: Thoracic Foam Rolling (photos below)

The stiffness in your mid back is a huge contributor to shoulder injuries. Use the nifty foam roller to keep this area nice and supple and help to offload the shoulders.

Focus: don’t let your lower back arch whilst doing this exercise.


Foam Rolling – If in doubt, roll it out!

Exercise 2: Theraband stop signs (photos below)

Work your shoulders into the opposite position of paddling to open up the front of the shoulder and stop any pinching by using this great theraband exercise.

Focus: shoulder, elbow and hand should all be at 90deg to each other.


After a couple of weeks of this, you’ll turbocharge your paddling.

Exercise 3: Shoulder dislocates (photos below)

A great mobility exercise for the shoulders that helps improve range when paddling. Focus: Keep arms straight throughout the entire movement.


Repetitions of these will not only improve shoulder flexibility it will also strengthen muscles around the shoulder which equals more durable shoulders and longer surf sessions.


Cover Photo: You can’t expect to surf a lineup like this without strong shoulders and copious amounts of paddling / Mitch Pope.