As surfers we spend the vast majority of our “surf time” paddling. As much fun as each ride is, our paddle muscles (shoulders, back and arms) tend to take the brunt of the workload during each session. And, the “just one more wave” mentality tends to put extra burn on those already tired shoulder muscles.
In surfing, as with all sports, proper training is vital to maintaining a fit body that’s not only ready to surf, but is able to keep you surfing for many years to come. It’s important to remember that when training, building strength through compound exercises (pull-ups, low rows, squats, pushups, etc.) is great… BUT we can not forget to train the smaller muscles in our shoulders. It is these smaller muscles that provide much needed paddle endurance which allows you to last longer each session and paddle harder in short bursts to catch more waves.
If not trained properly, the smaller muscles in our shoulders (rotator cuff) will tire out much faster than the larger muscles…causing you to fatigue too soon. Excessive fatigue to these small muscles is what often leads to common overuse injuries in the shoulder. The #1 injury surfers suffer from is a shoulder injury – whether it’s a tear in the rotator cuff, inflammation in the bicep tendon (bicep tendonitis), or a pulled muscle in the neck, upper or lower back.
Here, I want to show you my favorite exercise to improve paddle strength & endurance + help to pre-hab those important small muscles in your shoulders.
The exercise is called IYTW’s
This exercise is typically used in a physical therapy setting when doing rehabilitation for many shoulder injuries, or previous surgeries. This single exercise helps to safely target, strengthen, and rehabilitate all of the muscles of the rotator cuff (front, medial, rear deltoids) as well as incorporate their surrounding muscle attachments such as the trapezius, rhomboids, teres major & minor. My surf clients feel more comfortable on their board when they consistently perform these movements.