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The Forward Stroke



  • .
    "elbows passing" usually means that elbows travel from the front of back/shoulder plane to back.
    It one were to rotate around torso with elbows fixed, the "proper" torso rotation, elbows would remain fixed in relationship to the back/shoulder plane.
  • Using the back rest
    If it is a real seat back like in most rec kayaks, they usually tilt backwards. So relying on it at all for positioning will tend to leave you sitting too far back and not sufficiently erect to get decent torso rotation. The most effective hip to torso angle for that is usually straight up or tilted a bit forward from your core.

    That is why sea kayaks tend to have back bands, which sit lower and just mostly support the pelvic girdle. The bulk of the torso support should come from the abdominal core.

    Try this sitting on the ground, not in the boat, and you will find there is an optimal angle both between hips and back as well ans between hip and hamstrings where you can get the fullest rotation. Then see if you can get the same angles seated in your boat.
  • For Most, "Proper" Isn't Practical
    And doing it "wrong" works just as well, even for elite racers.
  • Options
    What's the goal?
    I have often made this analogy and I hope I don't bore those who have read it.

    Years back when Jimmy Connors (champion Tennis Player) used a two handed backhand, the elite and learned tennis community was horrified. Of course he became a world champion many times. And now the two-handed backhand is taught by the same official tennis community and is totally accepted.

    I think the question with the paddle stroke is "what do you want?". I would think it's always efficiency and that's a tricky word.
  • clyde, that's a very good description
    of how it feels when one has snuck the blade quickly in at the catch, and then applies power.

    It feels as if one is loading body weight, through the top hand.

    This is true both for kayak and canoe. In my case, as that loading feeling commences, my torso is twisting through a relatively short arc. Couldn't be enough to aggravate an injury sensitive to torso twist. There's also a limited range contribution from the shoulder girdle, and a modest amount of downward flexion of the trunk, in canoeing, but not kayaking.
  • I have tried
    to set the back rest at an almost 90 degree angle to promote an erect posture, and at the same time I will try sitting on the ground I order to expand freedom of movement.
  • amount of GPE available
    Amount of GPE available is only equal to the work that your muscles did to lift the weight of your body to where it could come back down and leverage against the water.

    Plus, you don't go forward by pushing straight down on the water. The force has to be transferred to the board through your feet. That is accomplished using muscles.
  • I See Your Point
    However, my muscles appreciate whatever help they can get from GPE. They don't mind sharing the workload.

    And I prefer applying that help straight ahead (with muscles), in the direction of travel, via top hand, and transmitting the resulting opposite and equal force via my bottom arm to the canoe/kayak. You're right, the board doesn't go straight when pushing down, for it should go down, or in the direction of the force.

    Anyway, I experimented yesterday paddling with and without GPE, and my muscles preferred the help from GPE.
  • It seems to me...
    that you have an invalid image in your mind of what you are doing vs. what you think you are doing (ie. what examples you have seen). This is common in physical activities and even great athletes form habits that aren't "perfect" in form unless someone can capture it and demonstrate it to them.

    If you can have someone take video of your stroke, you will probably be able to compare that video to, say, that of a proper stroke of a paddler on youtube or other video source.

    Right now, you are probably watching your paddle stroke more than the horizon and this is likely the factor causing dizziness. The torso rotation should stop at the neck. It's okay, even good, to look around, but if you are rotating to the point where your head is moving as well, you are either rotating too far for your range of motion or following your stroke with your eyes. At the end of your stroke, you should still be able to look to the left for potential traffic or activity when the stroke finishes on the right.

  • don't force it
    Try to do smooth easy movements to develop form. Speed comes naturally as you improve. I use a mild rotation where I point the center of my chest at shoulder level at one foot. Then stick the other end of the paddle in the water next to the other foot. A simple turn of the upper body to face that foot, and the paddle is near my hip, so I stick it in the water on the other side.

    With this technique, I have had my CD Whistler doing 6.3 mph for forty seconds according to my handheld GPS. That is slightly faster than the number reached using the square root of the waterline length times 1.55 formula for so called design speed.

    I started learning this going slow and gentle. Speed just appeared after about six hours of paddling time over five or six days. I did spend time just floating and watching wild life, I did not work at this constantly.

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