paddle for joint pain relief

-- Last Updated: Sep-15-11 5:06 PM EST --

I have been paddling with a Werner Cameno which I am considering replacing.
I have shoulder joint pain and tennis elbow from old non-paddling overuse injuries. Would the Swift- Wind Swift or the Werner Little Dipper be less stresssful on joints as the manufactures claim? If so which paddle would provide the least srtress on joints? Trying to maintain the low stress toso twistng etc.... as sugested on this site.

Smaller blades
You should also consider a Greenland Paddle. The whole concept of Greenland paddling has a theme: self preservation. Everything about the paddle and the way it is used by the people who had to survive in tough conditions, is aimed at minimising stress on joints and weaker muscle groups. I could go on, but there is so much stuff out there that it should be easy to educate yourself. Good luck.

I second that
I have never had any joint pain from using a GP, even the summer after I had major surgery on my right wrist. I would never go back to a regular blade paddle for going any distance on flat water.

Greenland paddle
If you have a chance I would also consider trying a Greenland paddle. I had wrist pain years ago and no matter what I tried nothing helped. Since switching to the skinny stick all that is behind me. There are more benefits but I’ll leave that for another discussion. :wink:

Try the Werner Athena
I used the Athena for two years while suffering from extreme shoulder pain. I was on the verge of having to give up kayaking. The Athena—plus a lighter kayak—allowed me to keep paddling.

Two years later I had built up a bit of the atrophied muscle, the inflammation subsided, and I was able to return to a full-sized blade. But I still use the lightest paddle I can afford (the Werner Kalliste) to avoid aggravating my shoulder. I think carbon also helps by transferring your effort to the paddle more efficiently, so you can use slightly softer strokes. So a stiff, light paddle and kayak are the answer.

A low angle stroke is important. Did you know you can get a paddling device that will take 75% of the pressure off the shoulder joint by transferring it to the device as a fulcrum? Example:

I made one of those once and it worked pretty well. Someone is selling them commercially; I’ll see if I can find a link.

I also suggest the Greenland paddle
I have suffered with tendonitus for years now and if I use a regular small blade it still bothers me. I cannot say the greenland paddle fixes my problem but it lets me paddle good distances with little discomfort which is a huge factor for me. I still put on Band It braces to help also.

You really need to consider one of these paddles. I love mine.

Aleut paddle
Same reasons as the Greenland paddle. I have a repetitive strain injury to the upper extremities, plus a shoulder injury, and I find this is an easier paddle to use. Lives up to its reputation in that regard.

Demo paddles
Thanks a lot for the responses.This gives me hope that even with the physical challenges of older age and old injuries that I will be able to conntiue with paddling which I have become hoked on over this past year. Boat is fairly light @ 43 lbs.Will try and find a Athena and a GL style paddle to rent before investing anothr 2-3 hundred dollars.


– Last Updated: Sep-15-11 9:17 PM EST –

Werner Little Dipper.

Why fiberglass or wood paddle - with carbon fiber, you body, as we age, is the weak link in the kinetic chain.

Light grip on the paddle; small blade, but with faster cadence, rather than force, that will get you there on time and without pain.

IMO Mike

I agree (I think)

– Last Updated: Sep-15-11 9:19 PM EST –

that it helps minimizes stress on the body if used properly, but if you are saying that it was intended to do so (and it seems like you are), I would have to disagree. At least I've never seen any reasons put forward to cause me believe that. I believe the physical ergonomics and benefits are largely coincidental to its development as a efficient paddling/hunting tool.

I Completely Forgot

– Last Updated: Sep-17-11 1:20 PM EST –

I used to have some wrist pain back when I used euros. No pain with the GP. I'd suggest one with lower surface area... and keep your elbows down. A gentleman by the name of Recluse taught me 'elbows down'. Many thanks.

GP Benefits

– Last Updated: Sep-16-11 5:21 PM EST –

Much, much easier on the body - I can paddle a lot longer and further without any muscle fatigue or joint pain than I could when I used a Euro design, even one with small blades. The GP also has advantages in boat handling, bracing and rolling...

If you want to make your own, which is a very simple process requiring little in the way of tools or talent, they are tres cheap - $20 will get you a lovely hunk of cedar, and a few hours of work will yield a light, useable paddle. Your second one will be better than the first. My current paddle, which started out as a western red cedar 2x6, cost me $15 plus tax and about six hours of work. It's very light, has enough flex to feel lively in the water, and is custom-fitted to me and my paddling style. Wouldn't even consider trading it for any $400 high-tech stick at our local paddle shop...

keep safe
And never let people on the internet know where, approximately, you live. That way they will never be able to tell you if you can try their gear.

You sound like another person looking for solution without having any idea what the problem is. Yes, you have symptoms, but what caused them? Tennis elbow aggravated by paddling can be due to bad form - cocked wrists, tight hands, bad alignment between upper and lower arm, or just messed up elbow. Ditto for shoulders.

GP is not a magic solution - there is also technique involved with efficient GP stroke. The blades might be smaller, but that could only disguise your problems, not get rid of them

Think more broadly
A GP may indeed be better. But I am willing to bet that improving your forward stroke will be more important. Many people, even many who think they are rotating, do not really rotate enough. Their shoulders rotate but their belly button does not move. Complete torso rotation as the power for your forward stroke is very important for someone with shoulder or arm problems. Don’t confuse a technique problem with an equipment problem.

DIY GL Paddle
Well I will say that surfing the internet for GL paddles it occured to me that since I am rather handy when it comes to wood working that I should make one vs a 2-3 hundred dollar experiment on a wooden or the carbon GL paddles.I suppose that a quarter sawn piece of clear cedar or redwood or a laminate made from big box store lumber wood would do the trick.Not perfect but good enough to find out if it reduces pain.thanks for the confirmation! And yes no doubt that improved technique will help.

Torso rotation
How in the heck can you keep your but planted in the seat and rotate your belly button more than a few inches from side to side?

Yes, a smaller bladed paddle as the
two you mention will help. I have a Windswift and it is easier on my joints than my Camano or Calliste, but I use my Epic Relaxed Tour full carbon with adjustable length and the burgundy (flexible) shaft the most because I like it’s feel the best.

A GP is also a good option as others have suggested. I’ve only used one once, but I liked it.

A Good Exercise
A little trick that works for me anyway… pretend that your elbows can hardly move; damn near locked in place. That forces real torso rotation. You get to feel how much power you can get from that torso twist. I think Dr Disco is right. Technique is more important than paddle choice. Did I say ‘elbows down’?

Proper torso rotation worked for me &
the type and weight of your paddle may be secondary.

I paddled many years before I finally used good torso rotation. That was the beginning of much better comfort and less stress on my extremities, from shoulders to hips.

I have several lightweight paddles and use the one that is most comfortable for me.

May you find that comfort level which will ensure your enjoyment on the water.

Paddle on.

Also warm up slowly
Obviously a smaller blade is the way to go but don’t forget to warm up with a fairly slow pace in the beginning.

Two years a go I had a bad knee and I used to do extensions at the gym but start with 10 lbs for a while. In about 5 minutes I could up the weight with no pain whereas If I started with the heavy weight I could feel the joint paint and grinding etc.