Gymnastic Grips for Paddling - Wrist Pain

I’m new to kayaking and I have a crazy idea for the folks here. When I was kid in school (about two centuries ago) I was in gymnastics. We used “grips” that were leather straps attached at the wrist, over the palm, and over the fingers with finger holes. They incorporated a dowel at the finger tips. Do a quick Google search if you’re curious . These did a great job of protecting hands from blisters. Mostly they made it much easier to grip the high bar.

I have been getting some serious wrist and forearm pain from paddling. The numerous posts on this forum have been very helpful in solving that problem. I expect that time and experience will eliminate the problem completely. I was wondering if anyone has seen these “dowel grips” in the kayaking world? I’m mostly sea kayaking so, even after I have built up some strength, I think these would be a big help on long trips. I found one very brief mention of these on another post from 2014, but nothing else. Seems like there might be a new product idea here.

Two suggestions: First, hold your kayak paddle with a relaxed grip. You shouldn’t need much strength to hold a kayak paddle. If you hold your paddle too tightly, you’ll create hand and wrist problems for yourself. Second, if paddling a kayak is causing you wrist and forearm pain, try a bent shaft paddle. They allow you to hold your paddle with a more neutral non-twisted hand and wrist position, and they also make it easier to control the angle of your paddle blade, which allows you to hold your paddle more gently.

Have you tried boater’s gloves, such as the ones that NRS sells?

There again, I agree with @pmmpete. I used to get a little wear between my thumb and forefinger but since I upgraded to a paddle with a very smooth shaft (a bent shaft Werner) I never bother with gloves any more. I also grip my paddle much more loosely than I did a few years ago.

Get some lessons or paddling videos to learn forward stroke properly.

I really have to concentrate on relaxing my grip when I paddle so I don’t get sore forearms. My wrists are pretty strong from 20 years of rowing whitewater rafts, so they don’t usually bother me. The more I paddle the better my form gets and the less sore I get, but I still have to remind myself to release the death grip on the paddle from time to time.

Except in difficult conditions where firm control is needed, your grip on the paddle should be very loose. The fingers on your lower hand only need to hook the shaft in order to pull it and your upper hand should be completely relaxed while pushing on the paddle. Your wrists should remain in a neutral position throughout the stroke.

All of the above plus you might not be holding the paddle far enough out on the shaft. My wife had that problem. Basically center the paddle over your head. Place each hand an equal distance along the shaft from center. Holding the paddle horizontally over your head with your elbows forming a ninety degree angle your upper arms level, forearms straight up would be the correct hand placement out the shaft. Qrusier was putting hands too close together on the shaft and experiencing some hand and wrist pain.

Here is another link we sometimes use for beginners.

Unrelated, I wear finger tip less sailing gloves. They have leather palm pieces and leather between thumb and fore finger. They have better grip than some kayaking gloves. They keep me from getting blisters (base of thumb), rope burns, thorn pricks , etc. Keeping the skin “hole” free is a good thing when you paddle in urban water.