How To Improve Your Paddling and Posture

Florida got some damn good surf in mid-February. It was the first time I’ve surfed in about 2months (since getting back from Indo). It was a solid 4-5foot swell hitting central Florida,

A rarity in Florida…

super-fun, but did require a fair bit of effort, and had some heavy sweep. I was pretty damned surprised at how quickly I was getting worn out, considering that I had been surfing up to 6 hours a day in Indonesia.

In those 2 months of surf-less wave drought I hadn’t been training much (some mellow stretching and calisthenics work), but no energy system training. It got me thinking about some fundamentals that people should work on to keep themselves paddle-capable.

All the energy system training, high speed pulling work, and shoulder durability training is essential, and you should all incorporate some of that into your training.

A lot of that is dependent on your equipment, training background, joint health, and abilities. But what about something that everybody can utilize? Here’s how to improve your paddling, your posture, and your shoulder health.


What’s critical for most people is the basics of posture, shoulder health, and back endurance. Those 3 things will make a huge impact on your ability to paddle for long periods of time and do so with relative ease.

If you get those 3 aspects in order, any endurance work, paddling technique, or power development will have a much larger carryover, as you’ll have the ability to control the spine, rib cage, and scapula in a good position.

Work on this drill 2-3x’s/week for at least 2 weeks. You’ll notice some big improvement.

I touch on the need for an optimal range of motion and flexibility through the upper body. This is a key to staying pain free. Imagine trying to paddle with an excessively stiff shoulder joint or thoracic spine. That would be largely inefficient and likely end up causing some pain and strain in the long-term, which is a really common thing I see with clients. If you need more insight into methods of tissue release, specific stretches, and flexibility drills, check out my flexibility program Stretches for Surfers

Stretches for Surfers 2.0

Now you’re working on the “foundation” of paddling. If you’re strong, or powerful with your paddling strokes, but you’re unable to maintain a proper spine or shoulder position, then that powerful paddle stroke isn’t as efficient as it could be, and could, in fact, be causing some joint damage.

Simply work on the range of motion of the upper body, and extensor chain endurance (muscles running along the back).Easy, simple, and efficient. I actually did a set of these this morning while watching some TV. Get to it, improve your body so you can keep it moving.

Here’s another variation of the “cobra” movements using a stability ball.


The pulling work is the other aspect of strength, power, and endurance development for paddling. The best thing you can do is get in the ocean and paddle, but that’s not always an option, so hit a variety of pulling movements. Here are some key points to get the most of your pulling exercises.

If you need more insight or have some specific training or movement questions, get in touch on Facebook (surf strength coach) or flick through an email: [email protected]

Keep your body moving, perform a bit of self-maintenance, and improve how you move.

For Self Maintenance, Stretching, Tissue Work, and Flexibility check out my Full Stretch Program: Stretches For Surfers

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