Four exercises to strength surfer’s shoulder blades

Auckland Shoulder Clinic - Shoulder Physiotherapy - surfers shoulder

surfers shoulder

Surfing can place a lot of stress on shoulder muscles and the shoulder joint. We commonly see surfers in the clinic who have been out surfing and get shoulder pain.

Commonly we see weakness around the shoulder blade muscles, which increases load on the shoulder.

This can happen because we spend a lot of time sitting down & facing forward, driving, working on computers etc.

The most common muscle that is weak in surfers is lower trapezius.

Here are a progression of exercises, that can be used to increase lower trapezius strength and keep you free of shoulder pain this summer.

Surfers Shoulder
Lower Trapezius Strength 1

To do this exercise, lie on your tummy with your forehead on a towel.

Keep your fingers on the ground and then lift your shoulders high from the floor, rolling them towards each other

When you can hold this position for 30 seconds, and your shoulders do not droop to the floor, try to lift your hands from the floor.

Remember to keep working in keeping shoulder high away from the floor

Surfers shoulder blade strength
Lower Trapezius 2

When you can hold your shoulders high off the ground, and can keep your hands off the ground, then turn your palms down to face the floor.

This will make it harder in your shoulders.

It is important to keep your head on a towel touching the ground when you do this exercise. Otherwise, you will strengthen your lower back, and not your shoulder blades

Hold this position for 30 seconds.

Lower Trapezius 3
Lower Trapezius 3

As your get stronger, the progression is to move your hands away from your body.

Remember, you must still keep your head on a towel on the floor.

And you must keep your shoulders high away from the floor.

Hold this position for 30 seconds

Lower Trapezius 4
Lower Trapezius 4

The last exercise is this series is to lie on your tummy (forehead still in touch with the floor)

These exercises are also known as W to Y’s as looking down your arms move from a W position to a Y position.

Start with your elbows low, and your hands on the floor.

Lift you hands and elbow off the floor, reach forwards and overhead into a Y position and then return your elbows to your side.

Keep hands and elbows off the floor throughout the entire movement.

Do not shrug your ears to your shoulders, but keep good space between your ears and shoulders.

Repeat 10-15 times.

When you get really good at this, you can add a weight.

There should be no pain during any of these exercises.

If you have pain, call the clinic for an assessment, and we will help you out on an individual basis


It helps also to have flexibility in your spine. so once you have the strength in your shoulder blades, you may also need to get get more movement in your thoracic spine.

You can do this, either by extending over a foam roller, or twisting while sitting, and we will cover this, in another blog.

Happy surfing 🙂

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