3 Exercise Tips for Helping Women Surfers Prevent Surf Injuries

3 Exercise Tips For Women Surfers: Lessons Learned From the #PaulMitchellSupergirlPro

Last time Surf Body Connection participated in an Oceanside-based event was at the ISA junior world championships event. At the ISA event there was a great opportunity to watch some of the worlds up-and-coming surfing athletes (and possible Olympians), most of whom were all adolescents and teenagers. Having the opportunity to spend a weekend with some of the worlds best female surfers, however was a great chance to learn even more.

Here's a summary of what I observed about surf injuries, with hopes to share injury prevention strategies with all women surfers.

Being at the Supergirl Pro provided a great opportunity to connect with some of the same athletes from October, but also to work with many girls who are charging their way through QS events with hopes to make it onto the CT. The contest provided a great opportunity to compare and contrast what was learned in October, with just female surfers who, maybe, have been at it in the competitive circuit for longer periods of time. 

So here's the 3 key lessons I would like to share: 

  1. Continued overuse/muscle tightness of quadriceps and hip flexors is pulling these athletes into an overly anteriorly rotated position in their pelvis. Note, this was seen not only in the rear leg, BUT, in several instances in the front leg of many of the athletes. This is significant because I believe there may be an element of front limb loading being seen in the more competitive or advanced athletes, possibly due to attempting/landing arial maneuvers that is requiring increased demand on the front limb. Either way, the outcome is the same: anteriorly rotated pelvis contributes to the long term extension stress/sheering on the lumbar spine, suggesting quad and hip flexor stretching is paramount for these female athletes. 
  2. Evidence of over-protraction, and overuse of shoulders, suggesting that mid scapular stability, thoracic mobility, and anterior chest wall stretching and exercises are key in preventing chronic shoulder impingement or pain in both shoulders. PS: If you haven’t a relationship with a foam roller, you may want to consider it  (Click here to order one) .   
  3. More women at this event were ‘grinning and bearing it’ despite acute ankle and knee injuries, accompanied swelling and inflammation. At this level of competition, there was more prevalence in continuing to compete and surf despite pronounced pain or swelling. These women will need to aggressively rehab balance and proprioception in their feet/ankles in order to prevent re-injury. 

Due to increased stress/demand on these athletes to continue surfing despite injury due to the significance of the contest, value of contest points, etc. This is of interest, as ankle injuries being more common on the CT, makes me wonder about the chronicity of these ankle injuries, as well as how much rest athletes are able to take in order to recover from these types of ligamentous injuries.

In essence: is there a way for these athletes to undergo the rehab and neuromuscular re-education that needs to occur if they aren’t able to rest the way they need as they strive to make their way to the most elite circuit in surfing?

We know from most of the current surfing research coming out that there are some predicting elements to these injuries (asymmetrical squatting patterns, assymmetrical jump tests) But, it also gives some insight into the possibility that these injuries may be set up earlier in one’s surfing career due to limited ability to fully recover or rehab due to the demands of pushing to become an elite surfer.

Soooo now what? 

Well, Surf Body Connection is working to create some avenue of relief for both the competitive and recreational surfers to help prevent these types of injuries. We are creating the first algorithm driven, surf wellness program online… accessible from your living room or online while you are in Tavarua.

Surf-Body Connection's 3 course online program (The Whole Enchilada) is available HERE. This package includes courses on Popping-Up, Duck-Dive, and Paddle, PLUS a 20 minute strategy call with me. Also, consider checking out Surf Body Connection's 6-week interactive group coaching online course: Back-to-Surf.

*I want to extend a hearty thank you to Extreme Athletics for reaching out to Surfer’s Edge to collaborate for the event. Getting to work alongside some of surfing’s premiere athletic training and performance coaches was a great experience. Additionally, getting to work with such a great group of pro surfers in the PaulMitchell venue was a fantastic experience.




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