are kayakers prone to shoulder injuries?

that helps. now what’s this “box” theory?

The Inuit Indians …
… seem to have taken pretty naturally to kayaks and double blades since at least the 16th century (I think. Someone correct me if I’m off on the date.) I don’t think marketing was involved. Now, dihedral, wing, offset, bent shaft, maybe 'nother story ;~}.

The only pull I’ve ever felt in my shoulder was from lifting my kayak over my head to store it in my garage on an overhead shelf. Also ended up wearing it like a hat once that way. Surprised it didn’t hurt my neck. Must have been the phase 3 seat ;-). Glad it wasn’t a canoe!

Regarding injury prevention during rolling and high brace, it helps a lot to have a very confident roll that comes from the torso, hips, thighs. You can test that by ensuring you have a good crook of the arm roll. Place the paddle shaft in the crook (behind the elbow) of the outboard arm rather than in the hand, and roll that way. I’ll have to try that with a euro paddle :~} If you naturally use your torso, hips, thighs, then of course it’s easy to keep your hands near your shoulders and elbows in, where they need to be to prevent shoulder injury.

Can’t speak to WW, but in surf I put a lot of emphasis on low brace and if I get out of position on the high brace or otherwise feel like I have to force it, I just accept the capsize and roll back up. Takes focus and self control as instinct is to fight and succeed even when out of position. That self control is easier when you know you have a solid backup plan.


outboard motor
which refused to pull start as i drifted helplessly in a 3 kn current toward the dock with a 1500 lb sailboat damaged my shoulder, it took me about 3 years to recover. i’ve never suffered an injury from many years of paddling. not counting oyster cuts.

i’m looking mostly at surf skis, so rolling isn’t really an issue.

yakers don’t have to blow shoulders…
though i dislocated a while back.

I researched this and found the problems come when the arm is straight out behind the back. It only takes slight, slight pressure to pop it out in that postion. It happens mostly when you high brace with the blade behind your back without turning your torso to face the blade and keeping your elbow bent as much as possible. Facing your work with the elbow bent brings your arm back into the position where the shoulder joint is stable and strong.

so, sea kayaking doesn’t necessarily have to mess up your shoulders. you have some control over that with proper technique. The challenge for me is to remember always to use that technique.

Try Side Press

– Last Updated: Jan-12-08 12:36 PM EST –

I have paddled marathon kayaks for over 25 years & no problems. The worst thing has been doing long races in a rudderless boat with a strong beam wind on one side, which has made one shoulder sore for a couple of days.

A great shoulder exercise is the side or one arm press. It can be done with a single barbell. Because you balance the long bar with one hand while pressing, it strengthens both stabilizers & Rot. cuff. (It's safer than a two hand military press because the lat stabilizes the shoulder). After a little time, it's actually easier than with a dumbell. Most could start with a 20+ pound bar, with stronger paddlers pressing a 45 pounder & soon adding plates. Any one arm press combined with a chin or pullup would be fantastic for paddling. I used to do the 7' barbell side press at the local "Y" & guys always assumed I was doing rehab! I said maybe this is why I'm not.

Shoulder Injury
I just had rotator cuff surgery but the main culprit was not paddling kayaks or canoes. It only contributed to a situation brought about by doing “other things” without properly warming up.

When I get back in a kayak in a couple of weeks (only 6 weeks after surgery) I’ll do light paddling but only after I do some shoulder stretching exercises to warm me up.

Any day on the water is a great day,


ditto exercise …
especially if you like to roll.(an unnatural act) I try to work on all muscles attached to the shoulder


– Last Updated: Jan-13-08 11:16 AM EST –

My post hole digging for over ten years finally caught up with me last summer. I couldn't sleep on my right side and heard and felt a grinding when moving. No insurance but a Doc told me I had at least a tear and needed time to heal or surgery. I had to keep working and somehow it just went away.

My luck will run out but for now all is okay and paddling only seems to make it better.

Your luck will indeed
probably run out. But it could take quite awhile.

I injured my shoulder doing gymnastics during my first year in college. I decided against surgery, spending the next 45 years with a partially disabled shoulder. (I managed a full Army career in the interim.) I had to give up tennis and pretty much everything requiring the overhead application of power.

Weight training/lifting was what finally did me in. The “grinding” you mentioned was caused for me by damaged cartilage, etc, that resulted in bone-on-bone contact. Finally the pain coupled with the loss of what remained of the shoulder’s physical capacity sent me to the surgeon. A local guy only made it worse, so eventually I was referred to our region’s Great Man of shoulders.

Now it’s much better. The pain is (almost) gone, and the shoulder is maybe 70 percent functional. That’s good enough to canoe. But I’m not fixed; that would required joint replacement, which presents it’s own potential for collateral damage.

But good luck to you. :slight_smile:

Shoulder Fix
My surgeon (Blair in New Bern) did a great job — the years of ache and pain have been replaced by a “healing feel”. It’s been weeks since I had to take a pain pill. Both the PT Lady and Doc Blair have been impressed with the strength I have in my shoulder at this early stage of recovery. Both attribute it to being in shape from paddling. Gives me hope for a good recovery. And thank the heavens for TRICARE!!!

Now if I can keep the “touchie-feelers” away from me. You know the type - the well meaning folks who just have to touch and feel the shoulder while asking about it. They do more damage than good.

And your river is a good river. Pit stop in Pollocksville for lunch at the local restaurant is a treat.

Any day on the water is a great day!

Yes, I’m on the Trent
on the south bank, between the yacht club and the mouth of Brices Creek.

Not having any “connections,” I got shuffled off to the junior guy in Dr Blair’s practice. He completely misdiagnosed my problem, with predictable results. Thank gosh for Carl Basamania at Duke!

Am hoping this year to get in good enough shape to get upstream of the River Bend area, but for now I’m just grateful I can get out on the water.

Ten years and have had no shoulder problem and I have a van dusen mohican ski. The key is to start slow and stick with it. Overuse issues can be more of an issue with wings becuase they grip water so well. The couch is more risky than any boat. Get out there and do it!