CANOE paddling help for tendinitis plea

With all the great advice on dubble blade paddling with this problem,I hoped I could get some gems for single blading.I have tendinitis in my elbows,diagnosed as tennis elbow by a MD. Cortisone shots and arm bands help,but not enough. I really love single blade paddling,but this problem is getting worse. When paddling and I can’t stand it any more,I switch to a dubble blade which doesn’t bother me at all. Any advice wich may help would be appreciated!


Two things
Maybe a smaller easier paddle or one with an easier shape like and otter tail blade or a Voyageur blade.

Second, find a local club or instructor who teaches paddling technique for long distance paddling like marathons. Nothing helps my technique lately more than having a competent observer give me advice. Videos or your technique could help as well so you can diagnose what you might be doing wrong yourself.

For me I find using a single blade is more of a stomach crunch while pushing the top. I have to remind myself not to pull with the bottom hand and to use a loose grip. At the end of the day my core is sore and my feet from pushing off the pegs, but nothing else.

Another good way to diagnose your technique is to paddle on one side only and see what part of your arm gets sore.

Hope this helps.

got tendonitis
when I went to a werner glass paddle with a large blade area. It went away went I went back to my AB Edge. Smaller blade, higher cadence paddling seemed to help.

My story FWIW
You probably already know that you need PT and then a regular habit of stretches and exercise with hand weights, and if so and this is OT, I apologize. Maybe this will be of help to others. Some years ago, I went on a sports binge including a paddling trip and ski trip and somewhere in there I stained the elbow ligament. I “played through the pain” with lots of painkillers and advil. It was a rough time in my life and I was doing stupid things. It got better when I stopped all upper body exercise for a while and then I would start up again and it was a vicious cycle. It finally got so bad I could not even type. I had the same diagnosis as you in the right elbow, cort shots made it better for a little while.

I consciously ignored it until one day I had to acknowledge how serious it was. I found the best Physical Therapist for this type of injury in my area by asking around a lot. She was an angel/magician. She tormented me for about seven weeks as I recall with little improvement. I hated it and had trouble making the time and the co-pays sucked and the insurance ran out but I kept with it. She said that in her experience, one day soon there would be a dramatic improvement. She was right. Suddenly, I had my arm/hand back. She gave me stretches and exercises with light-weight hand weights, which I do to this day as a habit. Now, I can tell when I am overdoing it and need to ease off. I have to use the arm band and still have flare ups and when it really goes off, I have to lay off for a few days. But, I do two weeks paddling in the Adirondacks every year, mostly bent shaft paddling. I have never resorted to a double blade or thought of that as an alternative or a solution, but in a solo that’s a good idea to vary the strain. Bottom line, my elbow injury does not really restrict me in what I want to do. It is manageable. I hope it works out for you too.

elbow problems
Beyond the obvious “So, use the double-blade and enjoy pain free paddling”, I do second the suggestion for a smaller paddle blade. A paddle with some flex (probably wood) will also reduce stress on the body. Check stroke mechanics.

As we age we have to make adjustments for the effects of aging and the cumulative insults we have subjected our bodies to over the decades. Adjust, and “keep on keeping on”.

I trashed my shoulder and after reconstructive surgery found I couldn’t paddle with a single-blade. Paddling with the right hand on the top grip for a short distance started shoulder aching, followed by pain. The many the wonderful wood single-blade paddles I purchased over the decades have been sold. All my paddling (frequent) is with Aleutian double-blade paddles I’ve made, using a low angle stroke. I adjusted to the reality of my shoulder situation and paddle on with a double-blade.

At Thanksgiving I irritated the plantar fasciitis in one foot by wearing dress shoes for two days without orthotics while hosting family-An uncharacteristic display of vanity. The plantar fasciitis slowly got worse all winter while I stubbornly continued my daily 1 hour walks. I finally developed a large swollen lump on the ligament and had to stop all walking (walking with a double-blade paddle didn’t help).

PT is helping remedy this foot issue. I have discovered that biking doesn’t irritate the foot, so I substituted 1 hour bike rides for the walks. Adjusted and moved on. Presently, the foot has healed to the point of starting careful walks on level ground, with icing after. My point is that health issues will arise-deal with them, adjust as necessary and then more on-if single-blading causes problems, adjust paddles, adjust stroke, try everything else you can think of and those steps don’t solve the issue, accept reality and continue paddling with a double-blade.

Should you move to double-blades, choose small blades, a paddle with some flex in the shaft and learn to paddle using trunk muscles more than arms. Greenland paddles or Aleutian paddles are less stressful on the body than euro double-blades. A friend swore his (small blade) bent shaft Warner double-blade paddle solved his elbow problems. I traded for one, but didn’t like it-could have been that I didn’t give it enough of a trial.

Best wishes for pain free paddling in the future,


well yes
Sounds like you bought the only Dr. you saws answer.

The whole “tennis elbow” thing is like the old 8-track music tapes…that diagnosis has come a LONG way brother. I have 8 friends who bought “same drs. answer as you solution”…do there own research and alternate (i.e cheaper, quicker, better) options to completely eliminate the tennis elbow thing. A LOT of it was with simple massage therapy. You can do a simple online google to get the results I care not to spend typing here. The bottom line is Dr.s are so far removed from a simple solution in this problem. The 8 people I know never went back to the dr, never had surgery etc etc and are paddling like crazy without any pain.

Like dealing with car problems…start with the cheapest…first source of the problem before going with the most expensive. Sure one can solve a slow sluggish engine by replacing the entire engine, but a simple air filter may be all thats needed.

Good god my friend, get a few more opinions, and NOT from the same 8-track tape dealers!

Good luck.

“swollen lump on the ligament…”
Any chance that was a ganglion, more commonly seen on the wrist? I have three along tendons in my left foot. I also have had plantar fasciatis, but it’s not active right now.

Based on where my ganglia are, some extra strain might be a factor in their development. By themselves, they aren’t harmful, but one of mine is getting large enough to interfere with footwear, and another is getting stood on.

Wrist ganglions, in folk medicine, were treated by slamming them with a book. Modern treatment is not so radical.

I don’t disagree with your concept. If you are talking about Drs and cortizone shots, you are on to something. If you are talking PT, you are wrong. Massage therapy was not any kind of answer in my case and certainly not a substitute for PT. The extraordinary knowledge and ability of my Physical Therapist was remarkable, but of course they are not all that talented and dedicated. The main thing is, ignore it at your peril. Serious tendonitis is not something you can just hope time will heal. It will get worse and worse until you face up to it. My experience and humble opinion anyway.

plantar fas…
is that also known as “bone spurs.” I had issues in the heels especially, couldn’t hike, took up mountain biking. Found out it’s fragmented bone, started calcium supplements, and now I hike and bike.

CANOE paddling help for tendinitis plea
You might want to look into active release therapy. Google A.R.T. and you will find some info on it. Many repetitive stress injuries can be avoided by strengthening the surrounding muscles (after the inflammation/swelling goes away.

If you have tendonitis of the elbows the injury happens usually due to a weak link in your body. For example if you have an elbow issue it may be due to a shoulder problem which is having a trickle down effect on your elbows. Make sure when you paddle you are using proper form (keep your shoulders down and back) and use your upper back muscles rather than your arms/elbows to paddle with. I don’t have any canoe paddle advice since I am a kayaker but I do hope this bit of info helps you. FYI…I suffered from tendinitis combined with ulnar nerve entrapment of both elbows for several years before I had the ART treatment done. That was the only remedy that seemed to help me.

One more thought

– Last Updated: Apr-05-12 8:24 PM EST –

I too have had much success over the years with good physical therapists but as to paddling technique;

Try minimizing your elbow motion. Much of the paddle movement can/should come from the core muscles. What is often referred to as torso rotation. Elbow movement can be minimized further by using in water recoveries, eliminating the need to lift the paddle out of the water. In water recoveries might not be an answer for racing, but for noodling around the pond or day tripping on creeks they provide a relaxing alternative that's worth a try.

I'm assuming the problem elbow is on you're grip arm.

Had to stop running, but hiking is still
ok. The forward extension of the tendon attachment is still there as a “spur” but apparently in my case, it only gets aggravated from running.

It seems to me way too much
on the diagnosis and medical condition in these posts and not enough on the root cause. The last poster summarized it nicely. I will add an item to the technique that I have only seen briefly here… get your butt up close and personal to the gunwale for proper technique. BOTH hands should be over the water with the paddle absolutely vertical during the stroke. Constantly sweeping with the paddle at an angle will cause elbow problems. A vertical paddle (assuming single blade) delivers the most power to the water for energy expended, and causes the least yaw requiring corrective strokes. As mentioned, the grip should be relaxed, bottom hand pulling with a loose grip, and the top hand pushing with virtually no grip.

During the recovery portion of the stroke, even (or especially during) racing modes, that is the time to let muscles completely relax and rest, even if it lasts for only a fraction of a second.

Concerning paddle style and size, I do use a racer’s bent shaft carbon fiber paddle for racing, and I have conditioned to it. But for recreational paddling I much prefer a thin blade wooden paddle in the otter tail or even thinner willow leaf shape for most control and comfort. They also offer a great range of different stroke possibilities, a variety of which when mastered can also alleviate getting tired on one side, or heaven forbid becoming sore. I can only think that becoming sore comes from either being way out of condition, or from having a technique that needs considerable improvement.

running killed me
6’2", 210 pounds…and 35 miles a week didn’t work well together. Beat up my feet, my hips, knees. Damn addicting, though, when you get warm and smooth about 3 miles into a run, and the next 5 feels like you could go forever…I used to go 3 weeks at 35 per, then have to take a week off to heal. I hike vertical and mountain bike. The riding has been an incredible conditioner, borne out by watching my ascents up my favorite peaks get cut by 20-25% timewise while hiking over the past 3 years…and I was younger then lol.

Thanks for the info so far. My diagnosis has been confirmed by 3 MDs-2 of them orthopods. The pain is below the elbow on the outside top. I damaged it originally in my job of mechanic. It is gripping with the lower hand while pushing back,even using extreme torso rotation and almost no rt arm movement.


T.E. - got it
I have been battling tennis elbow since May 2010. It really cut into my paddling in 2010, I got back to it in 2011, but still troublesome and I had to limit how long a trip I could take, and it still bothers me. I can feel it starting to flare up, and take steps to deal with it.

There is a set of stretches and exercises for it, and I think those are helpful. There are all kinds of remedies, but there is an older nurse in the health unit where I work that gave me the most practical advice: wear the straps, use anti-inflams, such as ibuprofin, and ice. Use the anti-inflams before you paddle, and the ice after. Sort of common sense, since inflamation is a big part of the problem.

Ice-do three rotations, 20 mins on, 20 mins off. It is very inconvenient, but goes a long way to reduce inflamation. I use the reuseable bags that you put in the freezer, and wrap them around my arms with ace bandages, so you can do other things while icing. Good luck with it, and post back if you find a miracle cure.


older nurse and Chip’s advice
Totally agree with the “older nurse” and everything Chip posted.

I would add one more thought: if you know what is causing the injury, STOP doing that until you recover. If single blade causes the problem, use double until you recover. If large blades are the cause (single or double) use smaller blades on flexible shafts. Long walks aggravated my severe planter fasciitis, so I stopped long walks. I then found I could bike hard without pain and have been doing so for 3 weeks. Now mostly healed, I’m starting to resume walks.

For icing, PTs and ATs fill small Dixie cups with water and freeze. They peel off the top 1/2 inch of the frozen cup and then have an ice massage tool. The medical gel packs by design will not drop to a low enough temp to freeze skin-be cautious with leaving ice on bare skin.


Doubt changing paddles would help me
I’ve had a pain in my elbow for about a year. It hasn’t been bad enough to see a doctor, which I never go to anyway.

I just wanted to say that I doubt using a smaller, more flexible or different paddle would make a difference for whatever it is that I have, since the pain has remained for the past five months when I have been doing no paddling AT ALL.

I once had rotator cuff pain that just sort of went away after about a year and a half for no reason I could ever figure out.

I certainly wouldn’t give up paddling if I could still do it with an otherwise sinful double paddle.

soft flexing paddle shaft + short length

– Last Updated: Apr-07-12 12:57 PM EST –

of your normal stroke... Keeping as straight an arm as reasonably possible, taking blade out of water before your hand reaches your hip. Not sure medical exactness here...but using IcyHot helps my tendons that run into the forearm. Not sure scientifically, but taking as much fat off of our spare tire around our abs takes off stress on the elbow....don't ask me why, it just does....added with building up your forearms, biceps and TRICEPS...if you can.

it’s possible Glucosamine/condroitin/msm would help you. It’s more for arthritic conditions, and with all the injuries I’ve been through, I developed arthritis young (car accidents and working construction) and found this helps. Another thing that may help is fish-oil capsules. My chiropractor endorsed 4 grams a day of fish oil. I’m on a daily regimen of, besides the usual vitamins etc., fish oil, glucosamine, white willow (to keep inflamation down), and some extra calcium for the splintered bone. Keeps me going pretty well.