Surfers – They Need Physical Therapy Too! 6 Ways That Physical Therapy Can Help A Surfer Own the Waves

Do you feel like you are lacking in your surf game? Check out these 6 tips from one of our local San Diego physical therapists, Mike!

1) Core Initiation, Strength, and Endurance

It is vital to have an efficient, strong core. And we aren’t talking about just the 6-pack everyone likes to look at – no, we are going much deeper than that, to your pelvic floor, your diaphragm, and everything in between that has a direct connection to your spine! This proximal trunk stability will make a huge difference in your sessions!

2) Shoulder Range of Motion

Paddling out is a necessity, obviously. Therefore, without the appropriate shoulder mobility, you may be putting yourself at a huge disadvantage from the get go! Not only do you need to ensure the shoulder complex is moving correctly, but also the surrounding structures as well: rib-cage, thoracic spine, and even your cervical spine.

3) Hip Flexibility

Hip mobility is vital for hopping on the board and really getting into your stance. Yet, if you are stiff in the hips, getting low on that board and maintain your balance is going to have to come from several compensations throughout the body, be that in the ankles, back, even your neck! By starting with the central link to the chain – your hips and pelvis – you have a great chance of avoiding these compensations and further injury down the line!

4) Best Posture

It’s no secret that you need tremendous amounts of functional strength to be a surfer, but why strengthen muscles that are in an inefficient state? It is vital that a physical therapist’s help you get your body in best alignment prior to strengthening either in the water or on dry land! Training in an inefficient state is only going to get you so far; for optimal performance, you need to train through full ranges of motion with proper joint setting and spinal alignment, allowing you to be ready for anything that the next wave throws at you.

5) Endurance

“How was your session?” ‘Great! I’m just wiped’. A very common sentiment, and speaks for itself. Cross-training, in particular with cardio – whatever you prefer: bike, Elliptical, running – will benefit your endurance for the next time you paddle out!

6) Thoracic Mobility

Laying on your board and moving into your press-up can be taxing, if you don’t have the mobility needed in your thoracic spine (mid-back), then the demand goes out to your shoulder and neck, which will likely cause more problems than you tend to want to deal with. Healthy, efficient spine mobility is the name of the game, and a manual physical therapist can help you with that!


Authored By: Dr. Mike Anderson PT, DPT, CFMT


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