Kayak shoulder pain :)

Hi I have started kayaking this year and have traveled 240 km this year but have got a problem in my right shoulder, the pain comes when I pull the blade of my wing paddle through the water on the right side the pain is located on the edge of the shoulder blade to the chest - Anyone have any idea what this might be? - I took a break of 14 days but it did not solve the problem: / :frowning: Now that I started doing shoulder exercises and rotator cuff exercises - So hope it helps if I stay away from kayaking for a period of time :frowning:

I think you would get a better answer if your own doctor diagnosed you versus a paddling forum.

As you stated you just started paddling this year, have you taken any lessons? What kayak are you paddling with your wing paddle?

Yes I got some training in kayak and have read a lot about kayaking technique online and on youtube I had too high paddle style in the beginning but I have since changed this :slight_smile: I row a “vajda civet cat” with this paddle :slight_smile:

Yes but I think I should find a professional who has experience with kayak damage as I think it will be difficult for others to find the damage if they do not know the basics of using the body during kayaking :slight_smile:

And it an epic mid wing of 215 cm :slight_smile:

I used a wide blade Euro until it aggravated an old shoulder injury. The orthopedic surgeon said he couldn’t fix it. I switched to a Swift wind paddle and have far less trouble now and paddle further. The Swift is like a Euro/ GP hybrid. Narrow blades.

There are many possibilities. Seeing an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in shoulder disorders is probably your best bet. The orthopod would not need to be a kayaker. In some cases it might be possible to make a diagnosis on the basis of a description of the symptoms and physical examination. In other cases, an MRI scan might be recommended.

I will try that but in the first place I will give it some rest and do stability exercises for the shoulders and see if this solves the problem - no need to inconvenience the doctor before constant pain - I only get the pain of kayaking

I talked to someone at the club today who is competing in kayak at the elite level and he said he had the exact same pain when pulling the blade through the water and that it had occurred 15 years ago and he just continued on painkillers because he was going to competition - but he also said he had had the problem ever since on and off: / :frowning:

Maybe I’m wrong, but I was taught to push with the upper hand, not pull with the lower hand. Maybe mount a camera on the front pointing at yourself and let us critique your stroke?

Pain is your body’s way of saying “Hey, over here.” You shouldn’t ignore it.

Rene, I’ve had the pain since 1986. It can be managed.

A wing is meant to be a high angle paddle and if used right puts a lot of pressure on the paddler.
I gave mine up when I didn’t need it to stabilize the boat. I switched to a low angle bent shaft and have been pain free.

NotThePainter you are right but also not my right arm I pull with when the blade is in the water but my torso rotation but therefore I can not avoid putting stess on shoulder anyway as it forms the connection… and as far as I can see the guides online one should not push too hard with the top hand as the shoulder tends to fall forward then. However, let the torso do all the work but easier said than done… as he says in this video “Kayak is not an arm sport”


I’m not a doctor either, but I had similar pain. It could be several things. In my case, it was a muscle imbalance. When I strengthened my neck muscles, and loosened up my scalenes and thoracic outlet, things resolved.

I’ve been out of clinical practice for decades (PA) but in my experience most orthopods are only interested in cutting. I would see a physical therapist specializing in sports injuries. Cheaper, and they are much more likely to consider your role in your own health and fitness.

And ditto the other comments about training.

Are you mostly pulling rather than pushing, per above questions? A shoulder injury waiting to happen.

Interestingly I can get a similarly located pain when I play the violin a lot and don’t stay on top of my lower back position. I am eyeing a 50 buck seat pad my chiro sells to see if it helps to keep my lower back from slouching… In sum it sounds like a use injury to me. I am guessing you are right handed, thus likely to be putting more oomph into the right hand pull back?

I had one massage person who was able to get their hands in under the shoulder blade, and that did help some, though it hurt like a banshee. But it worked. Unfortunately that person is no longer around and it is not a common skill.

Is there a particular reason you need to use a wing paddle? Unless you are racing or otherwise concerned with speed, one immediate alternative would be to go to a non-wing smaller blade. If you need high angle the Werner Cypress blade fits the bill, and can be gotten in a couple of blades depending on how much money you want to spend on light materials. The Swift wind has a smaller blade that works fine for low angle paddling, and is a lightweight paddle for the money. And there are others.

Celia I wonder that you, like the others, say to push with the top hand - because in the video above he says to pull with his torso and neither pull nor push with his hands … try and watch the video… he says that both arms only act as a hinge.

I’m left hand actually so left is my strong hand… everyone in my club only uses wing paddle but if my shoulder problems don’t resolve with training and rest I may be forced to buy another paddle type to be able to kayak…

Ideally it is all in the bigger torso muscles. But that is perfect form and most paddlers don’t make it to the rotation or other parts of the perfection to manage that 100%.

Plus you said “pain comes when I pull the blade of my wing paddle through the water on the right side”. So regardless of the ideal it appears that you are pulling. If you are doing that, you want to feel about the same amount of work on the pushing side as the pulling side.

But back to the biggest impact - is there a reason you need to paddle with a Wing? Across the board that is more stress than some other paddles unless you have perfect form.

Have you tried switching to a smaller wing paddle? Maybe a Small-Mid or a Small, rather than to a different style of paddle? That can make a huge difference in the amount of strain on the joints and muscle and allow you to maintain your wing form.

Is the paddle the correct length for you? Wrong length can also make a huge difference on joint and muscle strain. A length adjustable paddle can be of great assistance with this.

Good luck resolving your pain issues.

Even if you use perfect torso rotation you will FEEL pushing and pulling forces in your hands/arms simply because they are part of the linkage and are dealing with the forces involved. Many wing paddle racers say that they feel pulling more than pushing (60% pull versus 40% push). This is variable and as has been said in previous posts, you neither push nor pull, you plant the paddle, drive your legs and rotate your torso.

Your upper hand acts as the fulcrum, it resists.
As Lawler says in his excellent video, the moment your top arm overtakes your bottom arm you can’t move (“you are rubbish”). Power zone, where your top hand is behind your bottom hand.

Find a good sports clinic and have your shoulder checked out. You may need an MRI to see what’s going on. Pain could be a myriad of things, some technique related, some not.

Even if you have an excellent stroke you can still get shoulder issues eventually. Oscar Chaluspky had shoulder work done last year and now promotes keeping your arms closer together, lower, and slightly more compact (closer to the chest). I consider my stroke to be very good, and I recently (at age 59) had bone spurs removed from an arthritic ac joint (mumford procedure – distal clavicle resection), that was making paddling painful. As to the cause the Doctor said genetics, a lifetime of overhead sports and one too many trips around the sun.

Greg Stamer