elusive hand roll

I have been toying with a norsaq assisted handroll all winter in the pool, and I had nailed that quite a few times. But it was with the intent of moving to an unassisted handroll. I finally had a succession of handrolls in the pool yesterday. It was surprising to me to find that the more vigorous the motion and the torque I put on the footpegs, the more easily I came up. Finesse and good body position and still a part of this roll I would think, but it is definitely a lot of force. Have other folks found this to be the case?

But watch the shoulders. I blew mine out again last weekend doing that very same thing. I found that as soon as the boat goes over, you have to start initiating the hip snap. I’m sure others can do it with far more finesse, but this worked for me. It was the laying back on the back deck with arms splayed that strained mine. I think the only hand rolls I’ll attempt for a while will be sushi related. (sic)

fomr someone still working on his offside full paddle roll, and dreaming of half paddle rolls!

Yep, just beware the shoulders…

– Last Updated: Mar-14-04 10:32 AM EST –

Like the other poster said.

Just make sure when going through your motions, keep your hands forward of your body. in other words,When extending and going through the motions, I avoid reaching back.....

As far as being an explosive motion, I don't "flail" at it, I look at it more as a motion with purpose and a GOOD follow through. I usually miss my handrolls when I rush them. (it is still a super quick roll BTW)

that make any sense?

and thanks for the advice about not going behind myself towards the stern!

I’ve often heard about kayak related shoulder injuries but luckly never experienced it.

What actually happens? How bad does it hurt? Can the paddler climb out of the boat by himself? Or is one paralyzed in pain?

Can one get the shoulder back in place without help? Or is a trip to the hospital needed?

Btw I’m also playing with my handroll. In my old boat I only succeded once out of +200(?) tries while I have no problems handrolling a WW boat.

However last week I succeded a handroll in my new kayak(an Inuk) in the first try. Apart from the obvious lower aftdeck of the Inuk, the real difference I belive, is the position of my legs.

In the Inuk, my legs are way more vertical than the spreadout position in the old boat.

My knees are bracing a foamblock in the top of the cockpit(small cockpit opening):


This allows me to turn the kayak much more aggressively with my legs and then continue the motion into a hipflick.

At least that’s my current theory…


’blown’ for me means about two weeks of throbbing pain, and lots of ibuprofen until the inflammation subsides. I can still use use it, but have to be very careful raising any weights away from my body, or lifting with a straight arm. My injury comes not from kayaking, but from years of heavy overhead presses with weights. Piqued an interest with that Inuk. That’s supposed to be one fast boat. Care to give any impressions?

I only got my Inuk for 4 weeks, so it’s a bit early for real conclusions.

I did however clock +600km in the boat of which the 450km came from a fully gearloaded wintertrip.

I paddled the trip with a guy in a PH Sirius. At the end of the trip, we both concluded that the Inuk clearly was the superior boat speedwise. In all other aspects it was no worse than Sirius(surfing, headwind). Stability is no problem.

I love the low volume and beam(wouldn’t mind if it was 48cm or 46cm though).

However the greatest eye-opener for me, has been discovering the real use of legs in the forward stroke.

For 5 years, I’ve clocked between 2000km and 4000km a year. And all that time my legs has been locked into place by kneebraces and crappy sliding pedals.

Then 150km into our trip, we head into a strong current and have to sprint. And almost automatically my legs starts to pump and the upperbody starts doing a much more extensive rotation than I’ve ever done before.

It may sound like a TV-shop advert, but my forward stroke really jumped to another level in less than a minute(about bloody time).

Sometimes I feel that I’m almost kicking the boat forward instead of paddling. Having tired(not sore) legs after a day of paddling is a new feeling too.

In waves, when I need more contact with the boat for balance, I brace the above mentioned foamblock and stop pumping. With practice I hope to minimize this.

More pictures at:


The butterfly ruddercontrol has been slightly enhanced since I took the picture. I glued in a block to kick at with my heels when wearing lowprofile surfboots (instead of Chota boots). Spring is coming…


Half paddle is MUCH easier
I tried handrolling a couple of times last year and it was a joke. Using half of the paddle didn’t seem hard and that made confident enough to think I might be able to hand roll. Maybe this year. I’m still working on my offside roll to get it automatic. I still have to think too much when setting up.

Water is too frigid to play yet, but at least I’ve been logging some miles and getting back in shape.

what is the inuk?
who is the manufacturer?

The Inuk is produced by Kirton in England and Nelo in Portugal.

There’s small differences between the boats.

Rolls and shoulder problems…
I am getting back to paddling this spring following some ‘joint issues’…cannot wait. For you folks who have ‘more rolls than a bakery’…what is the best roll to use that would minimize any shoulder problems?

I started working on a roll when I was last paddling a few years ago, and aggravated a shoulder problem when I extended the paddle and pulled to facilitate the roll. At this point, I have found a great teacher whose advice I will surely follow. But…haven’t met with her yet and am curious as to what roll you seasoned rollers would suggest. I want…like many others…to have a ‘bombproof roll’…and I am convinced I can work around my disabilities.


while using a euro paddle
I would imagine a sweep layback type roll would be easy on your shoulder.

If it is a greenland style paddle, the exact same. As long as you are laying on your back while you are sweeping it should be relatively easy on the shoulder.

Speaking from experience
it hurts a lot. I injured my right shoulder during a practice roll last August and I am still paying for it. It was totally my fault. I set up properly, but for some reason I changed my technique just that one time. I extended my arms and right shoulder out to the side and back. In our words I got my shoulder outside of that protective “box”. Boy I wish I could have that one roll back. I thought the discomfort would eventually go away but after 6 months it was still there. I finally went to a Doctor. After several visits and a MRI they nailed it down to a small tear in my right rotator cuff. What is apparently unique in my situation is the bone structure in my shoulder. My shoulder is such that if I do certain moves rotator cuff gets “pinched” against bone. Ouch!

I can still roll. I have done so many times since August. My fear is that I will do something else to exaggerate the inquiry. My shoulder is a little tender today after some stretching I did yesterday. There are certain things I just can no longer do. Some of them are simple. I can no longer reach down and out for something with my right arm. We have an ice maker in the lower portion of our refrigerator. I keep forgetting that I can no longer just reach in and down to grab a handful of cubes. If I do that it really hurts like hell. Instead I must crouch down and reach into the ice bucket. Take it from me protect those shoulders.

Safe paddling.


Hand rolling to Inuks to shoulders-six degrees of separation? (As opposed to dislocation…?) Yes, i believe the shoulder malady you speak of is called ‘impingement.’ some nights mine gets so bad, I can’t sleep on that shoulder. What I’ve found to be most helpful, aside from aggravating it once again, is to strengthen the stabilizer muscles around the cuff and in the middle back using rubber band exercises, as per my physical therapist. Evidently what happens is that the primary mover muscles become far too powerful, causing an imbalance. This is common in the legs also, where the quadriceps become far more powerful than the hamstrings, etc. The smaller ‘stabilizer’ muscles help to keep everything aligned. There are exercises that can be done using the big rubber balls they have at the gym also. When I do these exercises, the pain goes away, when I stop, it comes back. Regular sweep rolls cause no pain whatsoever, either on or offside. I’m going to hold off on the handrolling for a while, until I can get someone knowledgeable to tell me what I’m doing wrong.

BTW, that Inuk is sweet-I’m dying to paddle one.

are we bragging or complaining
Id be happy with a good dependable roll. Rich


– Last Updated: Mar-15-04 3:35 PM EST –

You nailed it, 'impingement'. In my case I can pinch the damaged area (the tear) if I do certain maneuvers. My shoulder bone is such that it apparently "overhangs" the rotator cuff in a more pronounced fashion than on most people. A potential surgical remedy would be to remove some of the bone. I am hoping to pass on that. I turn 50 this year and I cannot believe surgery would be to great for my paddling "career".
I believe that I may already be doing some of the same "rubber band" exercises that you are. I found a website that documents several of these for shoulder injuries. I mentioned that I have pain/discomfort today due to stretching. That was an error. I forgot that I tried two upper body exercises yesterday that I have not done in a while: Dips and hands spread wide pull-ups (sort of behind the back). I should have laid off those moves. They really got my shoulder all riled up.

Safe Paddling.

I have
more rolls than a bakery, but most of them are around my waist. I agree that an extended paddle sweep roll with the recovery on the rear deck is easy once you work out the kinks. Mine has become nearly effortless with very little pressure on the shoulder. I first taught myself a CtoC that was brutal on my shoulder, which eventually led me to to the layback roll. A greenland paddle and a boat with a low rear deck will help with the learning process. I also think a good instructor will help you make much more rapid progress than stubborn self-taught folks like myself, especially with rolling, bracing and sculling.