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Surfing and how physio can help

Surfing requires a high level of skill and precision in order to execute a variety of movements in a controlled and graceful manner, for most of us.

Although, when it comes to chronic injuries, 70% are associated with high intensity or prolonged paddling. Interestingly, more than 50% of time surfing is spent paddling, positioning, and fighting currents. No wonder paddling accounts for such a high proportion of chronic surfing injuries.

That is why It is especially important to restore a range of motion for injuries of the back, shoulder, knee, and ankle joints. Our physiotherapists will help you in rehabilitating your body using methods specific to surfing and to suit your individual needs. Consisting of balance, flexibility, and strength to optimise your performance, reduce pain and prevent further injury or complications. When rehab is done well it equates to less time out of the water.

Will is our experienced surf physiotherapist that will provide you with a specific surf assessment and program to help you get the most out of your surfing or assist you in preparing for your next trip away. He is a keen surfer that understands the importance of getting in the water and will work with you to limit your time away from surfing.


Common shoulder and neck injuries

Rotator cuff tendinopathy or tear

Due to the excessive demand placed on the shoulder during paddling and the push up phase the tendons of the rotator cuff are put at risk of tendinopathy (a weakening and inflammatory process of the tendon). This can often present with mild symptoms such as “niggling shoulder pain” and if left untreated can manifest into a complete tear in some cases.

Shoulder bursitis

The bursa is a fluid-filled sac designed to reduce tendon friction in your shoulder. Bursitis simply means sac has become inflamed. While there are several bursae within your shoulder, the subacromial bursa is the most commonly inflamed with surfing. This usually presents as pain on the outside of your shoulder and the pain may refer down to the elbow. We have a vast range of treatment options to relieve your pain

Cervical radiculopathy

This is where one or more nerves in your neck are being compressed due to either muscle tightness or a joint abnormality (commonly stiffness).  This impingement can produce neck and radiating arm pain, pins and needles, numbness, headaches and reduced strength in the neck and upper extremities.


Common lower body Injuries 

Medial collateral ligament (MCL)

This ligament is integral to knee stability, with the main function of the MCL to resist pressure from the outside of the knee and reducing it from moving too far inwards. This ligament extends between the femur and tibia and is commonly strained or torn when turning or twisting on your board.


The medial and lateral meniscus (C shaped rubber like cartilage) are vital to knee stability as they acts as a shock absorber and aids in alignment of the knee during movement. As the meniscus acts to support the knee from twisting motions it can be injured much like the MCL, with twisting motions or from landing on the board with a considerable amount of force. Whether that force is from landing an “air” or if we are honest, just a late take off with a questionable landing.

Hamstring/adductor strain/erector strain

This is usually due to overextending a particular muscle when surfing and, in most cases, will settle in a number of weeks if treated correctly. This prevents further injury or the constant irritation of a niggling back, hammy or groin that can be frustrating and reduce your enjoyment in the water.


How to reduce the risk of a surfing injury

Dynamic warm up

This is typically not something that most of us surfers do, especially when the surf is good… Although, a short dynamic warm up is one of the most effective ways to not only maximise your session, but It can also significantly reduce your risk of injury. We can work with you to develop a quick warmup that is specific to you!

Mobility and quality of movement

The stiffer we are through our hips, shoulders, neck and back, translate directly into poor paddling posture that is vital for surfing. A program centred around stretching, regular manual therapy, or Pilates class will help with this.

Strengthen and lengthen surf specific muscles

Surfing requires strength conditioning of key muscle groups to endure numerous dynamic postures. Shoulder, hip and ankle stabilisers, back extensors and core muscles are crucial for endurance and coordination from the paddle out until that infamous last wave. We can work with you to design a tailored program that targets your limiting factors!

Get a surf coach to critique your surfing technique.


Other sports medicine and sports physiotherapy services we provide:








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