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Q&A: Exercises to Surf Without Shoulder Pain

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Q: What exercises should I do to prevent soreness in my shoulders from paddling when surfing?

A: The paddling position can be hard on your shoulders, especially when the muscles surrounding your shoulder joint and upper back lack strength and stability. Conditioning your rotator cuff muscles and the muscles that help stabilize your shoulder blades will guide your humeral head (at the top of your upper arm bone) to be positioned properly, which is key to relieving stress from your shoulders.

External Shoulder Rotations

Try performing external shoulder rotation exercises with cables or resistance bands. Stand facing the cable machine with your upper arm parallel to the floor and your forearm bent 90 degrees and pointing toward the machine. Keeping your elbow steady, pull the handle up and toward you by rotating your forearm up to the ceiling. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat for a full set.

Also, try adding the movements below to your routine two or three times a week. This will help you reduce pain and paddle strong.

Floor Ys, Ws, Ts and Ls 

These movements will help you improve the stability of muscles surrounding your shoulder blades, which is key for reducing your chance of injury.


Split Dumbbell Curl to Press

This strength-building movement will challenge your upper body strength and your ability to stay strong and stable through your core.

Visit our movement video library for hundreds of instructional exercise videos.

About The Author

Craig Friedman – Craig Friedman is the vice president of the performance innovation team at EXOS. He designs and implements performance training systems for professional athletes in all sports as well as elite youth and college athletes.

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Tags: Shoulder, Q&A, Outdoor Recreation