'Paddlers' Elbow (Tendonitis)

My first paddle of the year and my tendonitis in my elbow is already flaring up, so soon. Does anyone have any magical remedies? I so don’t want to miss out on paddling this season. What about good braces/wraps? How about ‘Activ On’ rub for the pain? Seeking expert (paddling expert) advice.


– Last Updated: Mar-22-09 12:32 AM EST –

1. Reduce "death grip" on paddle and secure a torso rotational stroke with the pull back ending at the hip or even shorter.

2. Tennis elbow splints generally do not help.

3. Advil 600mg three times daily with food until resolves.

4. Reread and do #1 above first and foremost.

Thanks for the tips. I will take them under consideration. I don’t think I have a ‘death’ grip. I try to push off with a relaxed or open hand with the off hand/arm. I also rotate, if I feel myself getting lax, I really concentrate on rotation. Thanks

as mentioned, grip, rotation
and trying to raise your elbow in line with your knuckles all help. some people are predisposed to it and will get it regardless. my physio and a doctor i know all espouse the elbow ‘splint’ thingy as well and have explained how the pressure of the brace with the knob in it, effectively modifies the angle of forces along the tendon, preventing the tendon from bowing so much and limiting some forces on the attachment of the tendon to the bone. it has worked well for me, and now i rarely use it after suffering with some tendonitis for a year.

good luck to you.

kayak elbow
Might try a greenland paddle, the floating paddle blade and the long and very narrow blades are much easier on the bod.

where exactly do you feel it?
I have a persistent twang on the inside of my right elbow, actually beside the elbow where you can feel what I guess is the end of the humerus bone. I think it flared up from a canoe trip last year. I don’t feel it paddling my kayak but I definitely feel it when I cartop the boats or lift any sort of load.

The GP Has Helped This Senior
No pain now even digging hard to keep with local euro yaks (cept the young superfit ones :-). I think the loom/blade grip and “auto” indexing promotes a softer grip too, and have a wide blade base to push against. Having a longer one made for my W-Vag solo open boat. Just thoughts.

Live with tennis elbow
in both arms and forearm pain also for a couple of years now!! Dont know why as i tried physio etc. So what do i do. I refuse (as suggested) to stop paddling but I do take ibuprophen and put “Bandit” braces on both forearms and now paddle with a GP - a GP is imperative if you have tendonitus and i love it - its not like you are giving up a good paddle - In actuality I wouldnt go back even if my tendonitus resolved! Try it!

Wrist Rotation

– Last Updated: Mar-22-09 12:58 PM EST –

Do you use a feathered paddle? Consider going straight to see if that works.

I have to watch I don't death grip things like holding a tennis racket or baseball bat. The white knucles give it away.

joint pain?
I don’t have tendonitis, but sometimes my wrists get quite sore, and i find taking Glucosamine and Omega-3 tablets help alot with it. Might not do much for your tendonitis, but if it helps with any joint pain on top of it then great.

Elbow grease
I get the “twang” when I stretch my left arm straight out. I surmise that it happens because things are too tight. I have recently tried to straighten my arm out to the point of discomfort, then feel along to the spot that hurts the most. When I find it (just above my elbow on the outside) I keep my arm straight and apply pressure to the painfull spot to help it stretch out. Seems like I can make it go away by doing so. Tried the bandit thingy’s and they tend to help me as long as they are tight enough. Also have the occasional wrist pain and MRI says arthritis. Usually paddling the canoe doesn’t cause any trouble though.


all good stuff mentioned , try an borrow
a bent shaft paddle , see if it helps , they are a lil pricey (to ME, I don’t work in bankin or wall st) . And as stated afore unfeathered .


Again, MANY Thanks,
These are all GREAT suggestions of which I will try many of them. To clarify some things:

I do use a bent shaft paddle for the majority of my trips, but on this trip I was using a straight shaft paddle (which tends to make it a bit worse)

I have tried ‘feathering’ but haven’t had alot of sucess, I intend to work on this technique this season

The ‘BandIT’ braces look interesting, I plan on discussing this with my chrio this week, we have discussed the tendonitis before

The ‘pain’, yes it is tendonitis, pain & burning on the outside of the elbow joint (where the tendon crosses over) and a little bit of pain on the top of the wrist (where the tendon crosses)

A ‘GP’, I would like to try one, I’ll look for someone in my club (PSC) that may have one and that I could try out

I will also use an Advil type drug, the other joint supplements sound more appealing, I try to go drug free whenever possible


You may find these threads





Try to find
a chiropractor in your area that does the Graston technique. You can Google it and maybe find someone in your area.


– Last Updated: Mar-23-09 6:00 AM EST –

Your responses to everyone's suggestions shows your sincerity. People have posted great advice.

I second the not feathering comment.

I quintuple the Greenland paddle comment. Nice idea, esp during your recovery from the current lateral epicondylitis (i.e. until it resolves). And hey, weren't you looking for an excuse to get a GP twig. Now you have it. :-)

No one likes meds. You need Ibuprofen. Unless you have had bleeding GI ulcer in past or are currently on Coumadin or PLavix, you should take it.

The splints, althought helpful, generally do not do the trick alone. Band-It, however, is the best of the splints. You have to wear it tightly to have any benefit. Were it me, I'd not use it, though. For most people (but not the poster above, who I respect), little improvement, inconvenient, and majority wear incorrect location or tightness (should be immediately below, or distal to, the lateral epicondyle "bone", and should be tight).

Paddle stroke like the gentleman on this video--Frankenstein, arms outstretched, up by chin, and no pull behind front part of cockpit, and it will not be a issue again. This remains the key advice, I'd say, pman57.


THis vid from comely Jean Totts at Sweetwater shows an excellent non-death grip forward stroke. The key for avoiding tennis elbow is the pull and recovery phase ending "early". Forward part of cockpit at the hip. Notice, his elbow does not bend. This demonstrator does it well.


If truly recalcitrant after trying the above for a month, then your doc can prescribe oral steroid Prednisone taper which takes care of it in 4/5 people--but it'll come back again if offending activity continues.

Next, if the Pred doesn't do it, comes injections of steroid a couple times--safe, superficial, not harmful to tendon, painless when done properly. That ought to do it.

If still not gone, and one is sure to be using the rigt padde stroke and eliminating everything else that could be causing it--all of us, me included, are assuming its paddling, but could be something at your work; mouse on computer is a major cause for many--then orthopedic surgery. Now we are talking about 2-3% of all cases will require surgery.

Hope to paddle with you sometime, Pman57 in NE llinois. Rock on, brother.

G'luck. Cooldoctor1 in Geneva, IL

The joint is overused
don’t use it so much.

I suffer from recurring tendinitis in my right elbow and shoulder. It is work related from years of pulling on pipe wrenches heavy lifting. I am equally sure that dehydration is also a factor in many of the muscle and joint problems I have had. I don’t drink enough water during my work day. In order to be able to paddle regularly I don’t strain myself at work any more. I also start my day with a 20 oz. bottle of water.

Take care of your elbow. Pain is a sign that you are doing something wrong. Let it heal (sometimes 6 weeks for me) and try using some of the techniques the others have suggested to reduce the strain on your elbow. Think torso rotation and less arm paddling.

I hope you heal quickly. Spring is here.

Agree–back off it for a while
I’ve been renovating a huge room. While finishing the drywall (taping and mudding), I discovered I had tennis elbow on my right elbow. No surprise, given that that day I had neglected to switch sides and had relied almost 100% on my right arm (not to mention pressing down too hard with the tools). From then on I made sure to use both right and left sides and switch frequently. I also took Vitamin I on the worst days, as well as applying Icy Hot (which feels wonderful).

After I started paddling and weight training, that right elbow flared up once or twice but the pain gradually faded away. It’s back to normal now. And thank gawd I’m done with the drywall work, painting, and floor tiling.

Scottb’s comment about dehydration made me sit bolt upright. I have a tendency to go without water and lunch when immersed in a project (and while biking and paddling). I just forget to drink and eat for too many hours. That such practices would be bad for joints makes total sense–thanks, Scottb; I’ll take more care about such things from now on.

Don’t ignore technique…
…but go find DHEA in your local pharmacy/health food store…I injured my elbows (Both of them) while in the service…DHEA not only stopped the pain, it helped repair the elbow joints…take about 100Mg a day…

Many senior’s use the DHEA for knee joint problems…

Lots’a stuff out there about DHEA, (Google “DHEA joint pain”) read, decide…It helped me greatly…all I can say…

Do not be too quick to blame paddling
I have been suffering this bi laterial pain now for almost 2 years. Had multiple cortisone shots and gave up paddling for months at a time. Pain still there and the last shots were in early December. I have have paddled 20 miles since then. The shots wear off in about 3 months. They hurt now. I’m a desk guy and use ergo keyboard and a track ball. It is common for men over 50. The paddling advise is sound in this thread, but I have to think it is more than the paddling.

I do have a week vacation paddling in the San Juan Islands next week. And I know I will be hurting when it is over. Jeeze, I’d stand in line for surgery if it would resolve the pain.