Numb Hands - Paddle Advice

Been doing a lot of paddling with my NH16 and mid-Swift paddle. My carpal tunnel has been acting up alot with the increase in my paddling time. I find I have to stop paddling and hang my hand in the water for a minute or so until the numbness disappears. I am wondering if one of the bent shaft paddles may be better for me. Can anyone recommend a bent shaft paddle and lend some thoughts on if that might help me? I’d like to try one out before I spend the money on one. Thanks.

Werner will be high on any list of
recommendations. Also, to reduce your wrist range of motion, make sure the paddle feather is 60 degrees or less. Check how much you are raising or dorsiflexing the affected wrist, and how hard you are gripping with it. Personally, I grew up with 90 degree feather, and have never gone below 75, but that would be one of my first steps if I had carpal tunnel symptoms.

Do you wear a carpal tunnel brace
at night? It has really helped mine.

Not a doctor…
But blood clots come to mind. Hopefully that is not the case.

Hand Numbness
If it’s carpal tunnel for sure, based on past injuries or incidences, then you probably know what to do to alleviate it (brace, Ibuprofen, ice, etc.). However, there are a variety of factors that could contribute to the hand numbness. Some things to consider:

First, check to make sure you’re grip is relaxed and you are opening your hand on the return after the exit of the blade from the water. A death grip on the shaft could easily cause this. If it’s a new paddle for you, the feather angle could contribute to this, as could a shaft diameter that’s too small or too large. I run into problems with paddle shafts that are too small-nerve compression. If the paddle shaft is too slippery or non indexed (and you’re used to an ovalized shaft), you may be unconciously ‘twisting’ it to adjust. Taping the shaft with closely overlapping tape will increase the shaft diameter and prevent your hands from working their way in or out-see what you have a tendency to do and wrap the shaft directionally so the ridges of the overlap prevent this.

Are your wrists flat when you paddle? Paddling with low elbows often means that the wrist of the top hand is dropped, putting more load on the wrist. Raising the top elbow will align the axis of the forearm with the paddle shaft and allow you to push with a flat wrist and an open hand.

The lower hand should also be relaxed enough that the wrist stays flat when you pull, and so that the shaft can change angles without twisting your wrist.

A bent shaft…
Will align your wrists in a more neutral lateral position automatically. I switched to one after having tendon pain and it is now my main paddle.

That said, all of above may help, looser grip, offset, opening your push hand and correct form. If all else fails the bent shaft may be worth a try.


– Last Updated: Jul-08-07 9:09 PM EST –

I had a bad case of CTS, especially my left, tho I'm R handed.

I just had bi-lateral surgery and guess what? NO more numbness.

I tried """everything""" before the surgery but still they got numb. Sleeping at night was the worst!

Guess what.... yep...theys as good as new. recovery was short. I'm just over 2 weeks done and I'm just about 90%. I was 50% and paddling EZ 1 week after. btw- I took out my own stitches after a week. They wanted me in for stitch removal 11 days after... as if!

good luck


This could help. I know I often get my
wrists very flexed or extended while sleeping.

I agree with everything flatpick wrote.

– Last Updated: Jul-09-07 7:05 AM EST –

Well, unless your as handy with blunt tipped scuba knife as f-pick, maybe you should have them take out the stitches, but other than that, based on your symptoms, rfree, you will eventually be looking at surgery regardless of paddle, so you might as well get 'er done. The longer you wait, the more nerve injury, and the less opportunity for full recovery after CT Release. Good luck.

still have
I still have some numbness in the outboard side of my index and middle fingers that may take a while to regain feelings. seems as when the nerves are compressed for a while they take some time (if EVER) to revive.

git ER done!!!

BTW- I used sterilized sewing sissors and hemostats to remove my stitches. then I clipped off the dead skin with nail clippers. How cool is that?



Ye be de Man, Flatpick!

– Last Updated: Jul-09-07 10:20 AM EST –

Ah' even hear'd ye took out yer own appendix wit a can opener an' some duct tape... bet'ya Rambo or even P140 couldn't do dat.

Anywho, ah' hopes yer wrist git 100%, ah' got ta git me right hand done real soon too - not gittin' any better wit other methods.


dat’s anudder story…
I had an appendectomy 1 month before a Grand Canyon trip. Doc said it’ll be ‘fine’…only a week after surgery I still had some infection so…he popped me back open and I had to pack 3’ of 3/8" gauze tape into the wound twice a day. the in/out of the tape kept the wound open and healing from the inside. You could put a golf ball inside my wound. I had 2 kinds of friends at this point. 1. SHOW ME, SHOW ME and 2. EEEEEUUUUUUUWWWWWWWWWWHHHHHHHHH.

The doc told me to keep it dry on the river. Grand Canyon in a 18’ CAT for 18 days??? DRY? yeah RIGHT!

well I wore a drysuit ‘most’ of the time except when I flipped on day 8. d’oh. only had to swim about a half mile.

day 10 or 11 I got tired of the stuffing of the wound and it was lookin’ good so I stopped. it healed fine and I have a BIG nasty scar to show off. ask me and I’ll show YOU!!!



Carpal Tunnel
I’m a newbie and took my first paddling class on June 2nd. I’ve been working at a computer for 23 years and experienced my first symptoms of carpal tunnel on June 2nd. Not a coincidence I don’t think, as the only time it’s guaranteed to bother me is while paddling. (I get nerve pain in the pad area of my right hand.)

I’d like to nip it in the bud if at all possible. I was looking at braces online, and there are a jillion different kinds. Can anyone recommend a certain kind? Thanks!


Thanks for all of the replies. I’m not too keen on surgery as I have heard mixed reviews on its success. (Glad to hear of those who it has work on though). I had it diagnosed as moderate CTS a few years back. At that point I was advised to live with it (following the standard remedies of ice, anti-inflam meds, ibuprofin and a simple ace wrist brace at night). This all works except for times where I put a lot of stress on the wrist such as when I built a deck a year ago or recently as I have been paddling a lot more. Now it wakes me up at night and I have to hang my arm over the bedside to regain feeling and to ease the pain. I have an appointment with my doc in a few weeks and I’ll review my next steps. If switching to a bent shaft paddle can help prevent further stress, I’m going to have take the plunge and buy one. Since they are so expensive, I didn’t want to buy one if it really isn’t going to do me any good. Again, thanks for the tips!

"I’m not too keen on surgery as I have heard mixed reviews on its success."

You heard wrong, it is one of the most successful outpatient surgeries, as long as the symp[toms are cuaght early enough. Sounds like you;ve had it for a while. Stick with a straight shaft paddle, and have the simple outpatient procedure and you will be happy.

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
After being diagnosed with Carpal Tunnel two years ago and debating on the surgery last year, I found that my Carpal Tunnel was actually Thoracic Outlet Syndrom and Carpal Tunnel.

I had knots along my shoulders and down my forearm that needed to be massaged out by physical therapist. After quite a few sessions and building up lower back muscles, I am now without any numbness and tingling and no surgery.

I would recommend trying out physical therapy before going further.

Someone else posted about numbness in the palm of the hand and that doesn’t match CT at all.