Surf Body Soul ‘Surfers Shoulder’ Free Exercise
By Ryan Huxley | 11 July 2012
INTRO: Welcome to Surf Body Soul, a new weekly Tracksmag.com blog writtten by Ryan Huxley specifically for surfers. Ryan is the co-founder and program creator at www.surfbodysoul.com, a website that provides safe, effective, holistic, scientific e-book exercise programs catering for surfers of all age, level and experience.
"I am proud and stoked to be contributing surf fitness content for an iconic surf outlet like Tracks, and hope you receive some benefit from my weekly articles." Ryan Huxley
Blog 1: Surfers shoulder...
Last weekend I provided a free Surfbodysoul consult to a friend of mine Dave Pearson. Dave is from the same pocket on the mid-north coast as my extended family, and in my grommet years was the older surfer that everyone looked up to. You know the one, always encouraging the littlies to push harder, made difficult turns look effortless, and seemed to contain that highly revered aura of pit-bull passivity that seamlessly ensured he slid onto the set waves of the day. Dave is heading towards 50 now and just over 12 months ago was lucky to avoid losing his left arm below the elbow to a bull shark attack, thanks no doubt to the surgical expertise at John Hunter Hospital. Ever since that attack I have been meaning to catch up with Dave for a consult, but with my band of pro’s and regular’s in Byron Bay to attend too, followed by an extended stint running Surfbodysoul overseas, this didn’t eventuate. Last weekend I finally managed to drop into Dave’s home in Coopernook, and found that 12 months on he is not only back in the water ripping, but doing so with the same cheek and swagger that I always remembered. Oh and he was less than originally but equally amusingly wearing a shirt titled ‘Shark Bait’.
Today I will examine a Surfbodysoul stretch that I prescribed for Dave, and one I strongly recommend for surfers of any level and vintage, named the ‘Posterior Capsule Stretch’. The Posterior Capsule refers to the four out of five rotator cuff muscles that originate from the upper spine, run along various lengths of our shoulder blade or scapula, before attaching to our shoulder joint, more specifically the ball of the humerus where it inserts into the shoulder socket.
You may be asking why is it important for me to stretch this region as a surfer? To understand this we need first understand the shoulder joint in a little more detail. The shoulder joint is a ball-and-socket joint. The top of our arm, or humerus, is a bone shaped like a ball and it sits in a dug out socket in the shoulder. The ball of the humerus can move up or down in the shoulder socket.
Repeated paddling tightens the rotator cuff muscles that comprise the posterior capsule. When tight these muscles pull the ball of the humerus up in the socket. If not re-lengthened through regular stretching, over time the imbalance causes the ball of the humerus to slide upwards in the shoulder socket.
This upward shift is a problem because directly above the humerus lies an overhanging bone called the acromium. Between the humerus and acromium is a small space through which the rotator cuff tendons pass. Over time, as the ball of the humerus gradually moves upwards, it compresses or squashes the rotator cuff tendons. This compression creates the pain commonly known as ‘Shoulder Impingement’ or ‘Surfer’s Shoulder’.
Unless the muscle imbalance is restored to the shoulder joint, over time the compression creates small micro-tears in the rotator cuff tendons. If you continue to surf through this pain the result will be a substantial or complete tear, needing surgery, extensive rehabilitation and time out of the water.
So now you understand why this stretch is important, lets take a peak at the technique itself!
Begin lying on your right side with your head resting comfortably on 2 pillows. Raise your right elbow in line with your right shoulder. Keep your neck, jaw and face relaxed. Keep your right upper back/shoulder blade softening into the mat/floor.
Use your left hand to gently guide the right hand and forearm towards the floor until a moderate stretch is felt in the shoulder. It is important to keep the right elbow and shoulder blade still during this movement.
Hold stretch for 3 breaths. Then push your right hand upwards against the resistance of the left for one breath in and out.
Repeat this process of stretch and resistance 5 times in total.
Repeat process on other side
Add this simple exercise to your daily routine, or simply complete after your surf.
I look forward to seeing you on the mat, or in the water!
Ryan Huxley is the co-founder and program creator at www.surfbodysoul.com, a website that provides safe, effective, holistic, scientific e-book exercise programs catering for surfers of all age, level and experience. Ryan is a qualified Physiotherapist, Exercise Physiologist, Advanced Yoga and Pilates instructor. His list of pro surfing clients includes Chippa Wilson, Anthony Walsh, Fergal Smith, Paul Morgan, Liz Clark, Paige Hareb & Rusty Miller.