Body position when edging

Went out this morning and paddled about 12 miles on my local lake with the wind roaring. It was a great chance to practice edging to keep my rudderless/skegless boat on course. It brought up some questions though:

  1. When holding an edge, I’m dropping my inside knee and lifting with the outside knee. I’m also making a “C” with my torso, bringing my head over near my outside shoulder to keep weight over the center of the boat. Is this correct? Not sure what I look like, but it did not feel as smooth as the dudes in the instructional videos make it look.

  2. Keeping good torso rotation going while holding an edge is tough for me. Any advice, or will this just come with additional practice and comfort being on edge?

  3. What should my feet be doing to help with the torso rotation while boat is on edge? I assume pushing on the stroke side as normal, but wasn’t sure about the inside foot (dropped knee side) as the pressure is different.

  4. In gusty wind, is it better to edge agressively to counteract the strong gusts or maintain a less aggressive edge and “counteract” the gusts as they come? In general is it better to have an ongoing less agressive edge or to edge less frequently but more agressively?

    Thanks for your thoughts? p.s. - my obliques and abs hurt. :slight_smile:

your obliques and abs hurt
That’s good! That means you’re doing it right. Like the morning after your first trip to the weight room, things are going to hurt.

My first kayak had a deep v-hull. So to find out where it “wanted” to be when edged was easy: I just set it on its side on the lawn; the thing droped over on its side by itself. Then I just had to get in and (still on the lawn) memorize what it felt like to balance over the boat. Then, in the water, I just went back to that position.

The key, like you said, is to stay over your boat. No matter how far your have it edged over, just stay over the boat. When you throw in rotating, that will feel tippy, but your body will grow used to it over time. You can balance in “neutral”; with practice you will start to automatically balance all the way through the stroke.

You mention wind. The more agressive you get, the more you will want a “commited” edge for its own sake. Throw in waves, and let the fun begin! :slight_smile:

drop the “cheek” more than lift the knee
One suggestion is to not think of it as lifting the knee/leg, but rather as shifting weight to the butt cheek. The focus is less on lifting the “up” edge and more on dropping/weighting the “down” edge.

Think of the motion as sitting on the floor and lifting one buttock to pass gas – try it at home (without the gas part) and feel how your body weight shifts. When you do this on a solid floor your head will go to the position it needs to so you can maintain balance.

For me, focusing on the lifting leg puts the body pressure in the wrong place – against the top of the boat – rather than low, where it belongs. But when I think of weighting a butt cheek the contact/pressure with the boat is lower and gives me more stability & control. Once you have that, you can work on which foot is pushing against the peg, where you look as you’re turning, full torso rotation, and then, doing it all together with your eyes closed :-).

Hope this helps.


get the Yoga-for-paddlers DVD
special movements that help to strengthen those parts of you that you use when rolling and bracing!!!

LOVE IT!!!i can feel the rolling movements when i am sitting on a yoga mat!


not the head
concentrate less on the ‘head’ over the centerline and rotation will be easier. i keep my belly button as a focus point and leave my head free to rotate.

sounds like you are doing things right tho!


good explanation, thanks
i like the cheek lift idea, i can do it right here at the computer : ) re the time spent on edge, do you keep the boat steadily edged? i seem to edge while driving the bow downwind with the upwind paddle, hopefully in synch with a passing wave so i get a little surfing effect, then relax and get more level till the next edged stroke ( and wave) pass under.