Yoga for common movement impairments- Short book for common injuries/Impairments

February 27, 2023

Yoga for surf injuries and common impairments


This book is a corrective exercise approach to common surf injuries using yoga and body weight exercises.


The format used for this book will be:

  • General injury description.
  • Yoga poses to help and how to do them.
  • Calisthenics exercise to help and how to do them.
  • Tools that can help and how to use them.
  • Other advice


Disclaimer: This book can not take place of seeing a Doctor that performs a proper exam and prescribes physical therapy. This book is just simply an observation of common injuries I see with my surf athletes and how I approach them using yoga and bodyweight exercises.




Neck pain from long hours of surfing.


Yoga poses to help and how to do them: 

  1. Neck stretching with one hand behind the back, and one hand pulling the head.
  2. Scorpion stretch with head hanging.


Calisthenics exercise to help and how to do them: 

  1. Plank Variations for neck strength.
  2. Cobra extensions with hands back behind your head.


Tools that can help and how to use them:  The neck wedge- A neck wedge can be purchased on amazon and when used properly puts your neck into extension with a slight traction. This can be used for 5-10 minutes a day or during your savasana at the end of your yoga practice.




Forward rounded shoulders: Forward rounded shoulders is an incredibly common problem I see in surfers. With hours of paddling and popping up, the latissimus dorsi muscle which internally rotates and adducts the arm to the body while paddling, will internally rotate the arm and shoulder and pull them forward. Along with that, popping up and paddling will tighten the chest muscle as well and have the same effect on the chest and shoulder. Contrary to popular belief, you do not need to strengthen the lats to pull your shoulders back, you need to strengthen shoulder external rotation, the traps, and stretch the chest and lats.


Yoga poses to help and how to do them:

  1. Cactus Arms with a back bent.
  2. Puppy pose
  3. Lying scorpion with arm bent


Calisthenics exercise to help and how to do them:

  1. Lying face down (Prone) arm raises with arms straight off to the side.
  2. Yoga ball YTAW





Low back pain with pain in forward flexion: If you are getting back pain when you flex forward to touch your toes or similar motions, some yogis will say you just need to do more forward folding. I don’t agree with this and if you have some sort of disc bulge or misalignment it will only aggravate it worse. Doing exercises to put your back into extension will help alleviate some of the symptoms, and then over time you can add back in flexion exercises as long as they do not cause pain. Listen to your body, do these extension exercises and slowly add in flexion, if doing too many flexion exercises start to cause pain again, regress back to where you were pain free, then progress again. Think about using your pain scale as a ladder. 


Yoga poses to help and how to do them:

  1. Seal pose
  2. Cobra
  3. High cobra
  4. Up dog when tolerable


Calisthenics exercise to help and how to do them:

  1. Table top to high cobra for repetitions x20-100 twice a day.
  2. Lying face down to cobra for repetitions x20-100 twice a day.

(You can pick whichever one of these feels the best.)



  1. Back extensions on the yoga ball 






Low back pain with extension (leaning backwards): This is less common than back pain from flexion, but it still happens. The causes for this type of back pain are harder to pin point, but with surfers in particular alot of time it is from over using your extensor muscles while paddling. This can simply be fixed by doing flexion exercises that negate the extension pattern.


Yoga poses to help and how to do them.

  1. Forward fold standing or seated
  2. Cat cow
  3. Side lying lateral flexion- Lay into a side lying position then using your top arm push your upper body up until you a feel a stretch on the side lying on the ground. Another way you can get into this is from a side plank while on your hand not your forearm, dip your hip down until you feel a stretch.


Calisthenics exercise to help and how to do them.

  1. Side plank dips
  2. Boat pose static or pulses
  3. Dead bug





Back hip pain: This is a very unaddressed problem in surfing. Having pain in the back hip is extremely common because the majority of your weight and pressure while surfing is always in your back hip. Duck diving using the same leg, most likely your front leg, will also bring your hips more out of alignment. The goal here is to bring your hips into alignment, unpack the back hip, stretch the back hip and strengthen both hips equally.


Yoga poses to help and how to do them:

  1. Warrior 3
  2. Pigeon/ Figure 4
  3. Half moon pose with step over/ Standing side bend with arms overhead and step over to stretch the side of the hip.


Calisthenics exercise to help and how to do them.

  1. Single leg deadlift on wall, while doing hip circles with the inside leg. This is the hardest exercise but gets the most range of motion in the hips. With a hand on the wall, do big hip circles with the leg closest to the wall, while doing a single leg deadlift on the standing leg.
  2. Single leg deadlift
  3. Banded butterfly pulses to failure
  4. Banded hip bridges to failure






Knee pain: Having pain in the knees is common due to most surfers putting more weight in their knees then pushing there hips back, knee coming into medial flexion during a pig dog position, and unstable landing surfaces. The biggest thing here is to keep the knee joint mobile and stable, while teaching proper hip mechanics. A big mistake that I made at first was strengthening the knee too much with weighted exercises, and eventually I lost the mobility I needed for specific surf positions. Utilizing more yoga, and mobility exercises I have increased my strength and flexibility in my knee joint and other athletes.


Yoga poses to help and how to do them.

  1. Warrior 2
  2. Chair pose
  3. Tree pose into squat


Calisthenics exercise to help and how to do them.

  1. Wall sits
  2. Full range of motion squats
  3. Lateral lunges



  1. Quad stretches
  2. 90-90 Hip mobility flow/ Shin boxes
  3. Pigeon






Ankles: Ankle injuries are becoming more prevalent due to airs. Here are some simple ways to keep your ankles healthy.


Yoga poses to help and how to do them:

  1. Down dog walk the dog
  2. Seated ankle circles
  3. Down dog toe raises
  4. Warrior 2 -Helps with ankle stability
  5. Warrior 3 -Helps with advanced ankle stability



  1. Hero pose, sit on feet and ankles without toes curled
  2. Lying hamstring stretch with yoga strap, pull the foot back and stretch the calf.
  3. Low squat.






Feet: As surfers we are always doing our sport barefoot, as funny as it sounds, there are plenty of injuries involving your back foot big toe. Due to the fact that many surfers wear shoes in their daily life, this can cause improper alignment with the bones in your feet, most commonly seen as bunions. One specific injury that can come from this is with tight feet muscles, and improper alignment, you can easily injure your foot in a pig dog position because of where the pressure is on your big toe joint of the ball of your foot. Here are some simple things to keep your feet healthy!


Yoga poses to help and how to do them:

  1. Chair pose on toes
  2. Downward dog toe raises
  3. Table top rock backs with toes curled to stretch the feet


Calisthenics to help and how to do them:

  1. Quad squats with emphasis on foot stretch.


Tools that can help and how to use them.

  1. A tennis ball or lacrosse ball is your friend when it comes to massaging your feet.


Other advice: It is crucial to wear wide toe box shoes and to be barefoot as much as possible to keep the natural shape of your foot and avoid your feet being crunched into narrow toed shoes.


Photo Gallery of Poses and Exercises

Upon request

About the Author: dawnpatrolyoga