Is Surfing Good For Your Back?

Is surfing good for your back?

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of riding a wave. The sun on your skin, the salt in the air, and the sense of exhilaration as you surf across the water.

It’s no wonder that surfing is often hailed as one of the best activities in the world. However, sometimes spending time hanging ten can also lead to some lower back pain.

It’s not because you hang ten for a long time, but it’s due to poor form and technique while you’re on your board. If your lower back is in a bad position, it can eventually cause pain and injury.

In this blog post, we discuss the potential pains that surfing might bring to your lower back and how you can best prevent them.

The Issues With Surfing Back Pains

Like any sport, surfing requires the use of many different muscle groups. However, the core, hips, and thighs are of particular importance, as they provide the majority of the power needed to keep you on your board.

If these muscles aren’t properly engaged or strengthened, it’s easy to overcompensate, which can lead to injuries.

It’s important to train stabilizer muscles that will help you maintain proper posture and technique.

It’s also essential to be aware of your form and technique at all times, as even small deviations can lead to a strain on your back.

Causes For Back Pains of Surfers

Surfing is a demanding sport that can put a lot of stress on your back. The causes of back pain in surfers can range from poor form and technique to weak muscles.

And as much as you surf, it can be tough on your back, especially if you are not used to the constant twisting and turning.

If you’re a beginner surfer, it may take some time before your body becomes used to the sport and you don’t experience any pain.

Even experienced surfers can fall victim to back pain, due to the repetitive nature of the sport.

But what are those motions and actions that surfers do that cause back pains? Let’s break them down.

Bad Posture

The most common cause of lower back pain while surfing is incorrect positioning, which is called hyperlordosis.

This means you are either leaning too far forward or backward, twisting your body in the wrong direction, or simply not aligning yourself with the board properly.

Paddling out on a surfboard means lying down flat on your stomach. From this position, you then have to raise your head and shoulders to paddle around, watch your movements and stay afloat.

This combination of efforts on your arms, head, and shoulders puts all the pressure right on your back, which can lead to pain while surfing.

Keeping your body centered on the board, using proper paddling techniques, and keeping a neutral spine can all help to alleviate pressure from your lower back muscles.

Furthermore, stretching exercises before and after you surf can also help to prevent any potential injury or strain.

Stretching helps to loosen tight muscles and increase flexibility, which in turn can help to reduce the risk of an injury.

No Core Strength

Your core muscles are the muscles in your torso that help you to maintain proper posture and alignment.

These muscles are essential for any activity, but are especially important for surfing, as they help you to stay balanced and centered on your board.

When surfing, you go from lying down on your stomach to either a standing or crouched position.

This requires a lot of core strength to keep your body from arching too much and causing more potential back pains.

If your muscles are weak, even just dropping in and riding the wave can cause some strain.

Long Sessions

This one is hard to read, I know. After all, you want to surf as long and hard as you’d like. Me too. But sometimes my back feels different.

A lot of time is spent paddling out and in the “prone position” while surfing, which can lead to back injuries.

Out of all surfing injuries, 23.3% are specifically back-related according to a study from the International Journal of Aquatic Research and Education.

In addition, if you spend a lot of time on the water and do extensive lobar extensions, such as when paddling, it could lead to chronic back problems.

Also, if you don’t extend your cervical (neck) and thoracic (chest) vertebrae while paddling, it puts more pressure on your lower back area- which wasn’t meant to handle that massive amount of pressure.

And then there are movements like cuts, turns, and the combination of trunk movements like flexing and rotating while surfing which greatly increases your chances of back pain.

If you have a weak core (which aids in stabilization and movement control to prevent over-extension), it’s another recipe for injury.

Being out in the water for too long can make your lower back start feeling strained from the constant twisting and turning. You don’t want to be out in the water for too long.

The time of a session is a personal question you should ask yourself. It depends on how much in shape you are, how strong your muscles are, and your levels of stamina.

Surfing Can Still Benefit Your Back

Despite the potential for back pain while surfing, the sport can still offer some benefits to your back when done correctly.

If you want to improve your posture and the back’s strength, you need to focus on your form when you’re away from the waves and do some other exercises to balance things out.

And like any other physical activity — it can be great for you but you need to pay attention to imbalances.

Meaning, strengthening your core muscles, for example, is a very important ingredient for that to happen.

Doing so can help to keep your spine more stable and decrease the chances of experiencing back pain while surfing.

By improving your surfing technique, you can avoid the harmful consequences that spending hours with your head down and neck up can have on your posture.

Besides the incredible workout you get from surfing, standing on a surfboard and maintaining balance also trains your body to hold a correct posture even when you’re not surfing.

Improve Your Surfing Technique

Although surfing can be painful and lead to back injuries, it can also offer some benefits to your back when done correctly.

By improving your surfing technique, you can avoid the harmful consequences that spending hours with your head down and neck up can have on your posture.

When you’re not surfing, you can improve your surfing technique by strengthening your core muscles. This can be done by doing exercises like crunches, planks, and pilates sessions.

Some great yoga poses can be extremely beneficial, such as the “child’s pose”, performing a “bridge” and “figure four pose”.

The best way to improve your back (especially your lower back) is to take care of your body when you’re not in the water.

Make sure to do exercises that support and stabilize your spine – these are key for good posture.


So surfing can actually become a great activity for your back, but you also need to take care of your body with some exercises and stretches.

Overall, surfing is great for your health and well-being. With a few simple adjustments to ensure proper form and technique, you can reap the rewards of this amazing activity without having to worry about lower back pain.