Common Surf Camp Guest Question: How to Avoid Rib Bruising From Paddling?

This is, by far, one of the most common questions I get from surf camp guests, it goes something like this…“I have this brutal rash/bruising on my ribs, what can I do to make it go away? More importantly, how can I make sure this doesn’t happen again?”

If you’ve ever experienced rib bruising, you know how painful it can be. It’s terrible. For me, when I’m on a surf trip or surfing multiple days in a row, I start getting a little bruising after about three days.

While avoiding it all together might be next to impossible — I know, not exactly the answer you’re looking for — there are some things you can do to minimize the damage.

Two Ways To Minimize Rib Bruising

Note: Using a rash guard or light wetsuit top might help take a little pressure off the ribs in the short-term, so I would definitely start there.

The better, long-term solution is two-fold:

1) Eliminate “rib flaring”

Flared ribs is a condition that results from poor posture and/or excessive chest breathing. The ribs protrude out, instead of sitting under the shoulders, putting extra pressure on those ribs while paddling on the board. Try to do some “rib down” breathing drills to get the ribs in a better position.

2) Increase range of motion in your shoulders

While paddling, if you have poor range of motion in your shoulders your body will compensate by overarching your low back and flaring your ribs, while lifting your arms overhead. Of course, there should be a little arch in your low back while paddling, but having good shoulder range of motion will limit the amount of rib flare. Again: Less rib flare = less rib bruising.

Check out this 2-minute video which further explains while giving you two simple drills to try. Ideally, spend 5-10 minutes on this every day.

I hope this helps. Keep me posted on how it goes and feel free to drop me a note with any questions.

If you want a deeper dive into healthy hips and shoulders, check out my free 5-day video series. I’ll walk you through a simple, one-minute assessment pinpointing exactly what YOUR specific weakness is. Then I’ll give you a step-by-step approach to correct your issues with specific stretches and soft-tissue drills.

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