Loose Hips

How do you practice loose hips and more importantly how do you ‘know’ you have loose hips when paddling in waves?

(Besides the obvious - if you tip over you ain’t doing it)

rumba, belly dancing, your pick.

The key is not to have a rigid connection to your boat, that is develop muscle awareness to allow the boat do its own thing.

Some steps, drills - just sitting in lumpy water with legs on the bottom of your boat. Doing edges without help of your knees helps as well. Sitting on back deck of your kayak with feet on the seat and paddling works those same muscles. When that gets boring, just put your feet on the deck and keep paddling.

legs on the bottom of your boat
because “loose hips save flips”

I thought
I thought I always need to have connection with tips of my feet and knees. Are you saying that when paddling in lumpy water you relax those connections and only engage them when you need them?

Getting the edge
If you get and hold your edge mostly by lifting the opposite side of the kayak with your knees, the way many people were and are still being taught, it is fairly difficult to be loose at the hips. If you get that edge by shifting your weight over and sitting off-center, the way more people are teaching now, it isn’t too hard to have those hips loose. This works even in the moderate surf I’ve been in, at least to hold a basic edge. If you are trying to maneuver quickly out there I suppose more knee may come into it.

The looseness of this idea is a major change for people who have been taught to lock into a position. It can take a little time to trust it.

As an exercise, it’s easier to stay loose if your legs are relaxed, rather than locked into the thigh braces. The idea is that the boat is free to wobble back and forth a bit as the waves toss it. If you are tightly linked to the boat, you’ll wobble too, and that might upset you.

I think in reality you end up taking a middle road in rough conditions, where you are in an active paddling position with legs loose, but near the pads, able to lean the boat or brace without repositioning your legs, but not locked in so that every jostle of the boat translates right up your spine.

No need to be constantly locked in. Your knees are always there if you need them, and relaxed muscles will allow for more efficient paddling and quicker response

Right on
Celia - yes. this is an eyeopener for me. I’m locked in so much sometimes I think I’ll break out of the boat like a newly hatched chicken.

Another hint

You can practice this by sitting on a uncarpeted floor.

You should be able to sit on one butt cheek without any other support. You should be able to pass a hand under the other.

If you can roll from one cheek to the other without leaning your upper body over (ie, while keeping your upper body vertical), you will be doing the “loose hips” thing.

One thing that helps (in the kayak) is not to slouch. Instead, keep your back straight. Note that, since this might not be usual for you, it may take some time for your back to be strong enough to do this for long periods.

The idea is that this should be your default paddling position and it might require some practice to make it a habit.

Get an exercise ball
sit on it, lift both feet off the floor, don’t fall over. It’s all in the hips.

Ah, yes…

– Last Updated: Jun-03-10 2:52 PM EST –

Ah' recollect her well... Zelda "Boom - Boom - Crash" LePelvis. Loosest hips at Carmine's strip jernt in Bayonne.

Fat Elmo

I got one already
will do. will do.

Sit in the waves.
Turn your boat sideways to the waves. Close your eyes and let your paddle sit across your cockpit combing. Relax. Do not flip. Do not press your arms firmly to the combing. Feel how your body moves intuitively. You will feel your hips doing a layed over figure eight. While your head should be rising and falling with less side sway. Become like a sac of potatoes. Do nothing. Relax. Let those hips move. Try this is little waves and work your way up. You will move like Shakira without even trying.

Do the Boogie Wiggle
Now mind you I learned this in a (gasp) CANOE!

But we used to practice heeling the boat left to right to left etc as fast as we could and as far up on edge as we could.

Go play in the waves…

– Last Updated: Jun-03-10 9:38 PM EST –

There is no substitute for spending time in your boat in rough conditions, that's how you develop the feel for being loose enough to dance with the waves- and understand the body-boat-paddle linkage.

Find a seawall with reflecting waves and try paddling in the standing chop during mild storm waves. It's addicting fun too.

I took these pics surfing out-bound on rebounds with my friend Thom. Waves are moving in both directions -great fun.


loose hips
What do you do with your feet? Do you grip the ball with or what? Thanks.

and another activity

Better on one side
I find when i am out on the water and the waves are hitting me from the left side, i am comfortable and can stay loose without any problems, and when practising edging on my left side i can do it almost without thinking and hold the boat on edge easily. When i switch sides though i find it harder to edge on my right, when i get the boat up i can’t really hold it there and i don’t feel like i am as stable with waves hitting me from the right. Is there anything i can do at home to help develop the right side? or just sit on the floor and practise lifting one butt cheek?

I would rather not have loose hips
in rough water.

I do better when I am locked in and become part of the boat.

then it does exactly as I want it to.

Jack L

Hold your paddle horizontally just in front of your shoulders. Loose grip. Slowly start rocking the boat, while keeping the paddle shaft parallel to the water. You’ll find that as you relax, your head and shoulders will start sliding from side to side to stay centered over the hull.

As you get more comfortable, you can edge more aggressively. You can also play with rhythms; right-and RIGHT, left-and LEFT; right-hold-two three, left-hold-two-three, etc.

Doing it to music can be fun – Bob Marley works well.