Is paddling technique personal

or is there a definite proper way.

I just recently purchased a WS pungo duralite and a adjustable harmony adventure paddle.I’m 6.0 160lbs and paddle lakes and slow moving rivers and want to avoid some of the shoulder issues i’ve read about on this board.

Will the 29"(width)cockpit demand a high paddle stroke or should i try to keep my elbows tucked and use core muscles.

I’m aware that this is just a rec boat but i still want proper technique as i will be doing all day trips.

Elbows tucked?

– Last Updated: Jan-28-08 4:13 PM EST –

Not sure what you mean. Keeping your elbows in is good for protecting your shoulders when bracing, but it's not good for forward paddling.

There's a lot of individual variation in strokes. Size, strength, flexibility, equipment, training, and goals are all a factor. Keep an open mind and give new ideas an honest try, but in the end the only person who knows what works for you is you.

there are general principles
of efficient paddling that minimizes repetitive stress injury.

Use torso rotation. This forces you to use big muscles.

Plant the paddle as far forward as you can and end at the hip.

Dont let your paddle blade get behind your shoulder. If you have to do a stern rudder, be looking at the blade that is doing the rudder.

There is lots more. Its lunch hour.

Just Curious…

Just curious - why the “…be looking at the blade that is doing the rudder” when stern ruddering? Protecting a shoulder? Balance?

Torso rotation
Just remember the torso rotation. The rest is refinement. You may not be able to get a super high stroke with a wide boat. So yes, there is some variability with body shape, boat type, and your dedication to getting the max efficiency. But the ergonomic principles are general.

Shoulders tend to follow head
It’s one way to encourage more torso rotation, and keep the rear elbow from getting behind the shoulder.

On the other hand, it’s good to look where you’re going.

no tablets from Mt Sinai
There is no “one way from God”. But there have been changes in paddling technique over the years and plenty of good rationale for the changes. Get good instruction if you can. Or get it on DVD (Nigel Foster, etc.). Just my two cents …

"Watch your work."
In my kayaking class, they emphasised “watch your work” to encourage rotation.


Not sure where you are in VA, but we may be close ( and I’m happy to talk with you about instruction or paddling technique. We do quite a bit of private instruction, which may be a good option if you don’t see an upcoming class that’s a good fit.

The best thing you can do for your shoulders is good, solid and consistent torso rotation, and resisting “pulling” on the paddle with your arms.

Good luck and paddle safe!


paddle techinque
with your boat …u may find that a “low angle” style of paddling feels best. i personally use the low angle myself…the high angle techinque is tuffer on the shoulders, my opinion, and takes more energy, than the low angle style. try both is the only true answer. if u chose the low angle style , u may find u need a longer paddle (230 ?) to clear the sides of your boat and reach the water… a suggestion , grab a broomhandle,or something similiar, sit in a chair, pretend your paddling…try the hi-angle style and then the low angle style, do this for a few minutes each…see how the arms and shoulders feel. I’m sure ther will be a lotta “discussion” about the pro’s and con’s of each style in this thread…lol