I am thinking about getting a bent shaft kayak paddle. I currently use a Werner Shuna carbon straight shaft and really like it; however, I have tendenitous in my wrists and elbows, as well as a lower bicep. All of these issues cause me discomfort for kayaking. I know that paddle makers claim that the bent shaft helps relieve pressure on wrists etc.
Are these claims true? Does a bent shaft help? Does it take long to get used to?
thanks for your help
My wife has one and she loves it. More of a naturla position for the hands. I have tried it and it feels nice. I don’t think it would take more than 5 min to forget you are using it.
Worked for me…
If it wasn’t for my bent shaft I wouldn’t be paddling…
just got a bb sunshadow crank
I just got a Bending Branches Sunshadow crank paddle. The whole crank thing makes sense. You will understand after you hold one.
I should mention this is my first kayak paddle. I haven’t even had my kayak in the water yet. I’m hoping to try it next week. So I guess I can’t compare it to a straight shaft. It just seems healthier.
See my post on Werner Ikelos question!
I usually don’t like bent shaft, but the Ikelos is so neutral that only needs thumb and one finger to paddle with. All bents are not the same so try them out extensively before purchasing. It is definitely a good thing to not let tendonitus get really chronic, very hard to get rid of if you let it go.
Consider small diameter shaft too
Werner makes a smaller diameter shaft that takes less effort to grip for small hands than a standard diameter, which I suppose varies by manufacturer.
I tried a Lendal Crank Shaft
… Last fall I was test paddling a couple kayaks, and the dealer talked me into trying his Lendal Carbon Paddle, with the Crank Shaft, and the Kinetic Touring paddle blades.
… By the time I was done paddling, I truly didn’t want to give it back to him. The crank shaft felt wonderful to the wrist I have had trouble with, and the blades caught the water as if I was pushing on land. I liked the light weight too.
… I had beem using a 230 cm paddle lenfth, and this paddle I tried was only 215 cm in length. I am a high angle paddler to begin with, and this length worked out perfectly, much to my surprise
… The Lendal Crank felt as if the designer had made it just for mde. I loved it. You can bet I will be back at his shop this spring to get one for my self! I have been saving my money for it all winter. WOW!!
Question for crank-shaft users
The classic sell for crank shafts is the more-nuetral wrist angle leading to less wrist strain. The counter-arguement seems to have been that wrist-strain is a result of over-gripping of the paddle loom. So the stright-shaft proponents call for people to loosen their grip and avoid loading the paddle to heavily afte rthe “catch”.
I’m curious about people for whom crank-shafts are a highly-valued item. I do not use crank-shafts nor have I had a need for any relief over the years but there is no denying the scores of people that swear by them.
Do you have a sense of whether you use your 3rd and 4th fingers during the “pull”? I was taught to use only my index and middle fingers during the stroke and wonder if this could explain the lack of wrist problems for my application.
Looking forward to yours and the comments of other crank-shaft afficianados. FWIW, I see nothing “evil” about crank-shafts, I just fail to appreciate the trade-offs on a personal level.
the crank can vary from manufacturer
to manufacturer too, some folks really don’t like lendal because they put the position of the crank so that the hand is actually further forward than the blade. This is on their modified cranks for touring paddles mind you.
Where as with an AT Paddle the geometry is such that the crank puts the hand almost even with the paddle blade. As for the physics and the effeciency of that, I have no idea, but would be interested to read why one is better than the other.
Does anyone know why this makes a difference?
Center of effort
If the hand leads the plane of the blade then the blade tends to self-center. Great for forward stroke / high bracing but less than optimal for reverse strokes or low braces.
If the hand tends to trail the blade then the paddle will try to rotate in the hand during the forward stroke. Just the opposite as the prior example.
Most manufacturers have adopted a nuetral offset because of these types of problems. My Lendal crank does not exhibit this forward offset that you described.
I have a
small diameter bent shaft Werner Shuna. It took me a couple of trips to get used to it, but I like it now.
I also bought a 215cm Lendal carbon fiber crank shaft with the Kinetic blades. After long paddles, only my back gets tired now. I was using a much heavier 220 straight shaft (Lendal Nylon) so I think it’s a combination of the weight and the crank shaft - but not sure which was the bigger improvement as this is the only crank that I’ve really used.
I haven’t had a problem with missing a brace yet and used it most of last year.
I used a Bending Branches bent
shaft for a year and it really helped my tennis elbows , but I missed my straight shaft and went back to it.
I’ve been using a wooden Walden Kayak paddle and intend on upgrading to a lightweight Carbon paddle this year. I’ve held Werner bent and straight shaft paddles and both feel light and comfortable. It sure is confusing with all the options out there.
I’ve read advice to try before you buy. Are there places to do this? The boat demo days I’ve been to only have inexpensive paddles. I’ve considered buying four or five different paddles, gently trying them out and then sending back the ones I don’t want. Anyone have a better way?
Paddle test drive
Our paddling club convinced our local Lendal Paddle rep to have a “paddle demo day” he brought a couple dozen paddles with various blades and shafts. It was great being able to try out all different lengths, cranks and straight, and different blades.
When my AT arrived I was initially surprised at how modest the “crank” of the shaft was. But about five minutes into my first paddle, it sort of “disapperaed” and felt perfectly natural. I find that the shaft shape actually allows me to leave my fingers wrapped, without having to alternately loosten & tighten my ring & pinkie fingers.
Another benefit to the AT is the shaft cross-section. Absolutely the most comfortable I have ever used.
I have both straight and bent shafts
and I can tell you the bent shaft feels very comfortable to hold and forward stroke. I have noticed that when I rotate the shaft to scull, roll, or do rudder strokes, the contortions I have to make with my wrist feel a bit more uncomfortable than they do with a straight shaft. If you use extended paddle strokes, the changes in grip position can get really confusing when trying to determine blade orientation. I think you definitely should try the bent-shaft before buying, and consider how you will use it.
Bent shaft paddles are not a fad or a gimmick and extremely effective for many people who have joint/wrist problems. This is assuming that you have good paddling form and the pain you are experiencing is from something other than poor technique. With that said, for those who currently are pain free, I see no reason to switch to a bent shaft paddle. Bent shaft paddles limit the various hand positions that you can use on the paddle shaft and limit some techniques that rely on more of an extended paddle (or if you are varying from high and low angle paddling). They are also weaker than equivalent straight shaft paddles and add some weight (plus they are more expensive of course). On the plus side, bent shaft paddles are extremely easy to index when rolling/bracing and are comfortable for what they are designed to do. Remember that the bent shaft facilitates good technique and is not a replacement for good technique.
On a side note, many people with joint/wrist/elbow pain find that a Greenland paddle is the most comfortable paddle to use even though it is a completely straight shaft. This may be due to how the paddle “bites” the water although I’m no GP expert. For most people, this is a great (although sometimes neglected) option.
While I have never tried a bent shaft kayak paddle, I have used Euro's, Greenland & wings for years. Sometimes you can get some relief by shortening a cm or two. This has been my experience with my elbows. Good luck.
I personally use a bent shaft paddle (Werner Ikelos) and love it. I used to have wrist pain with the straight shaft before I switched over. Having said that, I believe wrist pain with the straight shaft has a lot to do with technique. Here’s the link to an interesting article on the Epic website on this issue: