Paddle type for tendinitis

Tendons connect muscles …
The tendon in the elbow is actually stressed by a tight grip of the hands, so upstream/downstream is not an issue if stress is transmitted throughout the muscle/skeleton system.

Make a tight fist and feel the muscles and tendons near where it hurts with your other hand… you will notice they are very tight when gripping …do the same around your paddle… will help you figure out how to change paddle size, grip etc.

I did electromyographic research on
muscles all up and down the arm, and I assure you, if her pain is up at the elbow, excessive wrist motion is not going to cause it. It is true that some tendons cross more than one joint, but the next question is, is her pain tendonitis at all, or caused by other ligaments, or muscles? Paddlers get “tennis elbow” as often as they get persisting wrist pain.

You refer to “the tendon” but there are
many. At each joint (elbow, wrist) there are two or more muscles for each action (flexion, extension, pronation/supination, wrist abduction/adduction). So when you suggest that a tight hand grip is affecting tendons up at the elbow, it is not possible for this reader to see what you are talking about.

Open hand redoux
To the OPer - if you open up the hand that is furthest away from the water, hence this will alternate hand to hand as you go thru the strokes, it will both keep things moving and help some portion of the musculature involved stay loose.

Since no one commenting here can actually see you paddle, only you can gauge what effect it has on your discomfort. But it is a good idea in general, and it might help.

Why Not?
From your research,why couldn’t wrist movement cause pain at the elbow. Several muscles that act on the wrist or that cross it originate at the elbow?

Name them.


– Last Updated: Apr-03-12 6:17 PM EST –

Flexor carpi radialis, Flexor carpi ulnaris, extensor carpi radialis longus and brevis , extensor carpi ulnaris, flexor digitorum superficialis, extensor digitorum longus . I think I am missing a couple, on some people flexor pollicis.
Can you please explain from your research why these muscle couldn,t cause elbow pain.

Summary + One Thing To Add…
The topic has been pretty well covered, so my point to add is in the first bullet item below. Let’s itemize the things that can all be causes of wrist/elbow/shoulder pain:

  • technique

    Forces that are applied to joints must be mitigated by the soft tissues. The best paddling technique uses more torso rotation/back/hip muscles and little to no wrist or elbow. You don’t want to apply great force to the paddle, you want to keep things smooth and easy or the water has a nasty habit of being displaced by strong forces.

  • paddle

    Too large a blade, too long a blade, and feathering are the major items here - large blade size and a long shaft length require more muscle/force for each stroke.

  • wide boat:

    more of an issue than small hands is a boat that is, perhaps, too wide/beamy and which forces you to adjust the stroke to keep from hitting the sides.

  • cadence :

    (see long paddle above) is affected greatly by paddle length and blade size, as is degree of perceived or real fatigue. the paddle should be short enough for you to paddle for long periods with no pain and fatigue (as opposed to being tired - difference is that you can open and close you hand all day, but if you do it rapidly for 2 minutes, you’ll see the difference. A decent cadence is one which allows you to paddle at a sustainable rate (cyclists often have a cadence between 80-100/min and find that gearing that drops them below 60 causes great fatigue). Not sure what the ideal paddling cadence is, but near or just above 60 sounds likely.

  • hands

    relax the death grip on the paddle, which is likely what you are doing. I don’t actually grip the paddle except when forces may pull it from my hands. I cradle the paddle between thumb and finger on the “push” hand and cup it with fingers on the “pull” hand. It won’t get loose unless other forces (wind, waves, whitewater) are involved. When other forces are involved you may have to grip with one or both hands, but you really don’t need to grip tightly (I roll up using just the fingers on the hand of the “pull” side of the boat - didn’t know I did that until someone pointed it out to me).


Checking I have just completed suggests
that if her pain is on the medial side, it could be an instance of “golfers elbow” rather than “tennis elbow.” It would mean that repetitive finger flexor use could result in inflammation and damage to the attachment at the elbow.

I don’t know how close this is to your thinking. I did not find enough indications that the sort of clenching occuring while kayaking would create the golfers elbow condition. It seems quite unlikely to create “tennis elbow” but the flexor attachment might be aggravated and damaged by finger clenching.

I haven’t seen “golfers elbow” amongst oarsmen, scullers, canoe paddlers, or kayak paddlers. Or weight lifters, for that matter. But that her pain is near the elbow suggests she will have to check it out.

kay, click on the enclosed link and
carefully compare what you are experiencing with their list of symptoms for “golfers elbow.”

Make sure you pick up the entire link and copy it into the address line. Click back and forth, and consider googling for other sources on the condition.

excellent link (NM)

Unknown Location at elbow
We were never told where at the elbow the pain is. Why to assume lateral epicondylitis. Also we were not told if this tendonitis was preexisting or caused from paddling.

Still waiting for your explanation from your research where you assured us wrist movement couldn’t cause pain at the elbow.


agreeing with blade size
I canoe, but have several different paddles. I developed tendonitis using a large blade paddle, and it went away when I went back to a smaller blade. Same technique, before, during and after. Bigger force equals greater stress.

Get those elbows down!
Best advice I got I read here about form. Keeping your elbows lower toward your torso, rather than raising them up in the chicken wing posture, makes a VERY big difference in how your elbows feel afterwards.

Also, I use an Aleut paddle. Probably easier on the body than the Greenland or the Euro when you get right down to it.

??? WTF???

this in interesting - but
I have come to the uneducated conclusion that the “tendonitis” i sometimes develop in the tendon that attaches to the elbow side of the bicep is caused - and aggravated - by excessive flatpicking of my guitar and mandolin which involves repetitive movement of the wrist in a rotation type movement while holding a pick. I notice that while I say it is a wrist movement and think of it that way the reality is it involves a repetitive movement of the elbow joint as well and involves a variety of muscles including the bicep. The point is that I can imagine that excessively tight grip on a paddle combined with the repetitive motion of paddling could easily involve the elbow joint and related muscles and tendons in a more significant way that one might realize and a light or loose grip could well significantly reduce the use of those structures and reduce overuse or other mini trauma to the area. No?

Another one more thing to add

– Last Updated: Apr-05-12 7:09 AM EST –


Why don't children get tendentious? Because their muscle and tendon fibers have elasticity. They also have an abundance of anti inflammatory agents in their bodies. As we age we loose elasticity as well as our abilities to produce anti inflammatory agents as easily. The paddle is not the culprit although any repetitive motion that strains an area can cause it like using a hammer. A smaller hammer will help a lot as well as changing the motion to give relief. Better hammering techniques.

People take up sports and the tendency is to over do it in the beginning which causes tendon flare ups. I take ginger every day as a natural anti inflammatory and there are many that will help.

There's a good article here even though they are selling products.

I’m just finishing an 18 month massage therapy program. g2d’s statement in regards to his electomyographic research

is in conflict with what I have learned in regards to tendonitis in the elbow.

I am just looking for his explanation to support his statement.

womder herb
Get 100% arnica gel from a health food store…put on area…use religiously…works wonders …I’m fact total elimination of problem for me

The tendon that you describe …

– Last Updated: Apr-04-12 3:06 PM EST –

... is completely independent of the hands. There are smaller tendon connections at the elbow for forearm-muscle insertions, but they are deep, small and numerous, and not what you would be referring to when you say "the tendon". That big tendon on the "front" surface of the elbow that you can easily feel with your fingers has nothing to do with any motion "downstream" of the elbow.

Speaking only for myself, I've had tendonitis more times than I can count at probably half a dozen places, but I only get tendonitis in tendons of insertion, which is where the joint movement caused by the muscle in question occurs. I would bet that's most common, since where originating tendons cross a joint, they mainly anchor that joint together rather than cause the joint to move, so the originating tendons don't move much (certainly that's true for the elbow - you don't bend the elbow by means of your forearm muscles, and the origins of those muscles is right at the hinge point so joint movement hardly affects them at all). On a related note, the most chronic tendonitis problem I have is within the tendon you describe, and the cause is a task I sometimes need to do at work which requires no gripping motion of the hands at all, (there is only frictional contact with the palms of the hands when lifting these heavy objects at work, no finger flexing or heavy use of forearm muscles). The bicep (and "the tendon" you are talking about) is doing all the work in that case.