(photo courtesy of @cakejaggaley)
One of the most wonderful things about kayaking—and all paddle sports, really—is that we can do it well into old age. It’s easier on our body than many outdoor activities. But these aches and pains do come, so how can we minimize them?
Paddling.com has a great article on this topic by Gregg Jackson. And the comments from readers add a lot of great suggestions, too. You can read the full article here.
We’ve condensed the main points to give you a brief overview:
1. Choose Your Paddle Wisely
Even a few extra ounces adds extra strain on your joints and muscles over several hours (or days). We always suggest you buy the lightest paddle your budget allows. And be sure yours is the correct length for you and your kayak.
2. Keep Your Grip Light
You don’t need to clench onto your paddle in most conditions. In fact, if you do you’re putting unnecessary strain on your hands and arms. Keep your grip light and relaxed.
3. Use a good seat
All seats are not created equal. You want one that’s supportive and comfortable.
4. Dress Appropriately
You don’t want sunburn. You don’t want to overheat or be chilled. You want your shoulders and arms to move freely. Be sure you have the appropriate gear if you kayak in cold weather and on cold water.
5. Consider Paddle Gloves
Consider paddle gloves, especially if you tend to get blisters and hotspots, or if you sunburn easily.
6. Protect Your Eyes
Protect your eyes with UV-blocking sunglasses. The glare on the water can be blinding.
7. Don't Overdo It
Don’t overdo it right out of the gate. As with any physical activity, ease into it.
8. Give Your Legs Room
Adjust the foot braces to the right length for your legs, wear comfortable shoes (or take them off in the kayak in warm weather), be sure your kayak doesn’t cramp you. Shift your position occasionally.
9. Vary Your Paddle Stroke
Vary your paddle stroke between high-angle (more aggressive) and low-angle (more relaxed).
10. Take Breaks
This is especially important if you’re going to be in your kayak for more than a couple hours. Stiffness sets in, so be smart about getting to shore and walking around every once in awhile.
11. Be Careful Getting In and Out of Your Kayak
If you enter and exit your kayak at a dock, consider tying it to the dock so it doesn’t get away from you and cause an injury. If bad knees or other ailments make it hard to get in and out of a sit-inside kayak, consider a sit-on-top model.
12. Stay in Shape
Kayaking is a physical activity. Stay fit all year with exercises and activities that work all your muscle groups. It’ll make your kayaking so much more enjoyable and you’ll be less likely to have stiff muscles for days afterwards.
13. Sit Properly and Paddle Properly
Your seat should allow you to sit up straight, and when you paddle use your core and upper body—not just your arms and shoulders.
Aqua-Bound’s Tango and Whiskey paddles come in bent shaft options. These are designed to be easier on your body if you’re a long-distance kayaker or if you want to kayak actively as you get older.
You don’t have to let aches and pains stop you from kayaking. You may need to make some adjustments, but you’ll be glad you did so you can keep at it into your older years.
Can we help you choose a kayak paddle? Contact our friendly Customer Service team today: 715-755-3405 • [email protected]
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