Nell Sanders Crowden is a sports massage therapist, who has recently set up Neon Sports Massage in Newquay, UK, to provide sports massage to the surfing and local community.

So last week as a way of introduction we had a cosy little afternoon session in Newquay, with a group of surf girls, talking about sports massage, surfing, and things us girls often have to deal with – shoulders, backs, and hips especially. This brought up quite a few new things that people hadn’t really thought about, or given much attention before, and it was quite an insightful afternoon.

Sports massage for surfers

As one of our experienced surfers today pointed out – the most aches and pains from surfing (besides actually injuries) are often the worst when you are beginning to surf! As most of you will have had at least one surf session, you will know what a surprise it is afterwards – places in your back and shoulders start to hurt that you never even knew existed!! Well it’s reassuring that once you’re over that beginners hump it gets easier (just contending with wipeout injuries and meeting reefs then.).

So the main area for working on for surfers is the back and shoulders, starting with the traps (usually the bulgy bit from the bony top of your shoulder to your neck), then down between the shoulder blades (rhomboids) and just below them, the lats which go out to the sides over your ribs.  Up your sides, you get onto the delts – the muscles that sit over your shoulder caps. The muscle that runs either side along your spine also gets pretty tight too, especially in the middle section of the back, and can cause pain in the lower part of the back – in the QLs, above the sacrum (flat bit of bone in the lower back that your tail used to come out of).

Are you massaging your shoulders yet? Feel any tight knots or achey bits you hadn’t noticed before? Unless you are a pro athlete or yogi, you probably will.

Sports massage will be able to get deeper into the tissue, working out knots of muscle fibres, glued together and usually loaded with toxins that can’t be flushed out due to restricted circulation. You can start by breaking down this area manually, and secondly, sending neurological signals to the brain to release the tension in specific areas (trigger points). Also, you know when you run and get a stitch from lactic acid? Well lactic acid forms through anaerobic (no oxygen) respiration, and if it isn’t burnt off, it can clump together in the muscles as little crystals. When you massage over them, you feel this ‘crunchiness’. They are pretty harmless, unless they get near a nerve or just get really big – like golf ball size. With massage, they can begin to be broken down again, metabolised, and flushed out of the system.


So sports massage can be really great for surfers to help compensate for the amount of paddling and arching the back looking for waves that goes on during a surf session. This repeated action and the tension that goes with it – especially paired with the colder waters of further from the equator – can leave surfers with achey backs both during and after sessions, and a sports massage can really help alleviate some aches and tension, helping give the muscles greater strength and flexibility.

Good news, is that usually within 3-6 sports massage treatments, a few good stretches done regularly, and maybe some yoga thrown in – as a surf girl, you can most-likely begin to get on top of your shoulder and back aches and pains. Depending on your initial consultation, you may be advised to also see a physio, doctor, or other related therapist – but if you think your problem is mainly muscular, chances are a sports massage will come as a welcomed treat to your body!

Please note that these are general issues, and not applicable to everyone. Only go to qualified (eg ITEC), insured and accredited practitioners (members of a professional body, such as Federation of Holistic Therapists). To visit the website, go to www.neonsportsmassage.co.uk, or facebook/neonsportsmassage. instagram/neonsportsmassage.

Join Nell on the Waves and Workouts Weekend where she will be doing a sports massage workshop.