Exercises for Healthy Shoulders

To keep your shoulders healthy you want to create good muscle balance, solid joint stability and maintain good flexibility. Here at Surf Stronger we recommend the following three exercises to keep your paddling muscles in tip top shape.

Warm up 1

To warm up the shoulders, place your left hand behind your back with your palm facing out. Take your right hand and drape a towel over your shoulder. Grasping the towel with both hands slowly pull with the top hand allowing the bottom hand to move up the middle of your back. You will feel a stretch in the front of the left shoulder. Reverse the movement pulling with the lower hand. You'll now feel a stretch on the right side. Repeat 8 times each direction and then switch hand positions. These muscles can be tight so be careful not to pull too much. Go just to the point of slight discomfort. Each repetition should get easier. This is also a great exercise to do before you paddle out.

Exercise 1

Start off in your standard push up position. With your elbows straight, drop your chest and allow your shoulder blades to come together. Reverse the movement and allow your mid back to round out. Repeat. The focus of the exercise is to get the Serratus muscles of the shoulder to do most of the work. Keep your elbows straight and move from the shoulder girdle. For added challenge do the exercise with your hands on a stability ball. Do 15-2- reps. Once you are comfortable with the straight arm push up, do a full push up and incorporate the rounding of the shoulders on the top of the movement.

Exercise 2

Lie on a stability ball grasping a pair of dumbbells in each hand. Raise the arms parallel to the ground, squeezing your shoulder blades together. Imagine a clock face on the floor and hit the 9 and 3 o'clock position. Next, do a set hitting the 10 and 2 o'clock position. And last, do a set hitting the 5 and 7 o'clock position. Try starting without weights and get the movement dialed in. Pay attention to keeping your shoulders pulled down and away from your ears. Do 8-10 repetitions in each position.

Exercise 3

Lie on your right side and hold a dumbbell (5-8 lb.) in your left hand. Bend your elbow at 90 degrees and place your elbow against your left side. Lift the weight by rotating your shoulder away from the ground. Don't allow your elbow to lose contact with your side. You can hold a small rolled up towel between your elbow and side to ensure this. Roll over and repeat on the opposite side. Do 15-20 reps with good form. Don't go too heavy on the weight. These are smaller, stabilizing muscles that respond better to precise movement rather than brute effort.

Stretch 1

End your workout with a few chest stretches. To stretch the chest, lie back on a stability ball extending your arms back and out to the sides. Allow your upper back to extend across the ball and relax your neck by resting your head on the ball. Actively press the back of your arms against the ball and move from the top to the bottom position several times, pausing in areas that have more tightness.

Stretch 2

To stretch out the back of the shoulder bring one arm straight across the chest. With the opposite hand pull away from the shoulder you are stretching creating a feeling of traction in the shoulder joint. Pull to the point of a good stretch but without pain. Repeat three times on each shoulder. Don't force the stretch, It will come over time. Hold the stretch for a couple deep breaths and repeat 3-4 times daily.

A final tip is make sure you have good paddling technique. Even with great conditioning you can develop shoulder problems if you have poor body position while paddling.

For more surf-specific training, get a Surf Stronger video today.

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Disclaimer: Always consult with your physician before beginning any exercise program. The suggestions here are in no way intended to substitute for medical advice.