Forward Stroke

Have been canoeing off and on for about 15 years, but strained my shoulder last year, and have taken a break until now. Saw a chiropractor a few times which helped to loosen the area, and tried to strengthen shoulder using only a light weight. Have worked on torso muscles too.

Went paddling couple days ago and it felt great, but did get a little tired and sore after only a mile or two floating down a slow river. I was in a solo canoe and mainly paddle on one side, but switched it up to get a break.

My upper right arm when paddling on right side felt a little weak pulling back on the paddle. I was questioning my basic technique, and wanted to see if I can improve it.

Any articles or places I can look for guidance? Live in northern chicago burbs.

get HarryRoberts book
on paddling a canoe, or loook at Steve Salins old articles in canoe and kayak . I would suggest you switch sides every 5 to 7 strokes and use a bent shaft paddle.

Thanks for the tip,

… I will try looking for the those. Probably should have started off much slower the first time to get a better idea of where I was at and then build on that.

here’s some bent paddles

Are bent shaft paddles…

…any easier on your shoulder?? I thought they were a bit wider, caught more water, and were born out of canoe racing??

I have a bending branches bent shaft that I use when we paddle tandem. I found the straight shaft much easier to use solo for feathering blade through the water and much easier for strokes like the cross draw.

it has been
so long since I used a straight shaft paddle I will not attempt to give a comparasion. On bent shaft paddles I feel that they are easyier on the shoulders. I have paddled many miles up in the Aderondacks and Algoinquin provincial park in loosey conditions and had no problem. I also have paddled many Marathons canoe races some over 62 true miles in one day with no shoulder or arm problem.

I’m no expert but
my understanding is that your right arm should not be pulling when paddling on the right. Most of the power should come from torso rotation, and a punch forward with the left arm using the right more as a fulcrum. If the arms feel weak, it suggests you are arm paddling rather than using the large muscles in the back. Bill Mason says your stomach muscles should be sore after paddling, not your arms. Some people have described the forward stroke as planting the paddle and pulling the boat past the paddle using torso rotation.

For what it’s worth.


Doc, that’s exactly

… along the lines of what I was thinking about. Seems like my cruising technique is way off. Started paddling whitewater in a solo last year, and now am feeling a bit confused on my forward stroke.

Perhaps I have started using my bottom arm more, or have been doing it wrong this whole time and it just caught up to me.

Thanks for the tips, I will try to use more top hand punch and and torso twist. Will look at making sure I have right size paddle also.