3 Ideas for Improving Surfers Posture: Lessons Learned from Golf

3 Ideas For Improving Posture: Lessons Learned From The Game Of Golf

Are Golfing and Surfing more similar than you'd think? 

I want to take a step away from surfing for just a moment and think about a few mobility concepts adopted from golf. Golf, like surfing, requires a lot of rotation from your hips and thoracic spine, and if you find yourself restricted in your hip or thoracic spine mobility, it may result in low back pain, shoulder pain or other nags that can keep you out of the water. So here goes..

3 things that translate from golf to surfing to help make you a stronger surfer. 

Many golf-specific health professionals will identify with the concept of looking for curvature changes in your thoracic and lumbar spine posture that create either 'C' or 'S' posture. This is a foundational principle in Titleist Performance Institute's Movement Screen and coaching. 

Awareness of a golfer's posture in relationship to his or her swing will most certainly help a golf coach or medical professional better understand how to coach a more efficient swing. Let's explore some examples adopted from Titelist Performance Institute (TPI) and see how these concepts line up with surfing. 



C CURVE:  In this posture...

  • Thoracic spine mobility is limited and rigid, shoulders are in a mechanically disadvantaged position and prone for shoulder impingement. 
  • Lumbar spine is at risk for disc injury due to forwards flexed posture throughout the swing.
  • This posture limits efficiency and ability to generate power because it requires counter- balancing a forwards flexed-trunk which is sitting forwards of hips and pelvis/center of mass. This limits one's ability to use your hips and core muscles to create momentum and transfer energy.

How does C-Posture Translate into 'problem-areas' in Golfers and Surfers?? 

C- Posture Characteristics

Golf Issues:

Surfing Issues

-Thoracic spine mobility is limited and rigid

Shoulders are in a mechanically disadvantaged position and prone for impingement at end of back swing. 

Paddling: rigidity in Thoracic/Spine affects paddling mechanics, positioning on board, and can set you up for a shoulder injury. Duck Diving: Decreased mobility in your thoracic spine can affect the stability of your shoulder blades, critical for safe duck diving..e especially in larger waves.       

Surfing: Limited thoracic spine mobility can reduce your ability to turn or cut back in the wave.




Bulk of torso/trunk is bent forwards, increasing torque on lumbar discs

-Lumbar spine is at risk for disc injury due to forwards flexed posture throughout the swing.

-Having the bulk of your weight forwards of your base of support can result in an inefficient pop-up or landing.




-This posture limits efficiency and ability to generate momentum

Having your center of gravity over your base of support helps you to transfer energy more efficiently from the golf club to the ball.

This posture takes relies on counter- balancing your forwards flexed-trunk to keep your center of mass balanced on the board. It limits your ability to use your hips and core muscles to create momentum and transfer energy from the wave into board speed.

Lets Contrast C-Posture with S-Posture of the Spine:




  • In this posture, the your center of mass sits better over your base of support, allowing the natural curves of your spine to allow for both stability AND mobility. 
  • Lumbar spine is at a decreased risk for disc injury because the weight and torque of the upper body is sitting more appropriately over the hips. 
  • This posture opens up shoulders and thoracic spine allowing for more efficiency during the back swing and more power on the down swing.

Determining if you have appropriate thoracic spine mobility is a key factor in helping maintain healthy shoulders (as well as a healthy roundhouse cut back too). Technically, as we reach our arm or shoulder up and overhead, (this movement is called shoulder flexion), the last 10+ degrees of shoulder flexion come from extending through the thoracic spine, rather than from the shoulder. And so, it is this thoracic spine movement pattern which is very important for overhead athletes, swimmers, golfers, and surfers.

So a surfer who has a more flexed or "C" curvature in their spine may have a harder time getting full overhead motion likely due to postural dysfunctions limiting thoracic extension. Similarly, a surfer who has an 'S' spine with a more rigid and extended thorax, may already be at end-range thoracic extension, and have no where to go as their base line posture exists at end-range extension.

It's important to consider thoracic spine mobility when addressing shoulder problems because as you can see, it can absolutely affect overhead range of motion/mobility.

If you are wondering if your thoracic spine mobility is affecting YOUR shoulder mobility, check out our Paddling Functional Movement screening HERE

If you have shoulder pain that's limiting your surfing then consider checking out Surf Body Connection's 6-week interactive group coaching online course: Back-to-Surf. You can also check out my Popping-Up where we dive into thoracic spine mobility, shoulder stability and strengthening and more. Or, grab the Whole Enchilada and receive access to this course and two more of my courses PLUS a 20 minute strategy call with me.

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