Shoulder Pain

-- Last Updated: Jan-25-16 1:58 PM EST --

I have been doing flat water kayaking for 2 years and this is my second winter. Last year i didn't train but i decided to train in the gym to prepare for the marathon and sprint season.
I have been eating healthy and training every day since the season ended and i have been doing weight training to build muscle and strength and i have done cardio for 20 min to keep fit.
Now the river level have gone down and the cold weather is going away i have started to train on the water again but i have had pain in by shoulders while i paddle (which goes away if i stop for a second but can only do 10 minuets before it really hurts - it is worse upstream than down)

I wasn't going very quick and have never had any pain in my 2 years of kayaking when i have raced in both marathon and sprint.
Last summer i would train most days and paddle about 6 miles i don't know why i get pain on my first slow 6 mile run which took just under an hour.

Would any weight training cause any damage to the shoulder preventing me from paddling?

Could this pain just be getting used to the movement as i haven't paddled in over 2 months?

What is the best way to fix this?

My right upper back has become sore recently.

How old are you and have you

– Last Updated: Jan-24-16 3:05 PM EST –

over stressed your shoulders in the past? As I age I have to really pay attention to my shoulders and elbows. My former favorite paddle, an Onno Full Tour puts too much stress on my joints. I switched to an Eddyline Wind
paddle and it got rid of the issue.


– Last Updated: Jan-24-16 3:17 PM EST –

When you paddle, do you see the zipper of your PFD move from side to side and are your hips and legs involved?

High angle or low angle?

Do you have shoulder pain when you're not paddling?

No pain outside kayaking

– Last Updated: Jan-24-16 3:49 PM EST –

Hi i have no pain in my shoulder outside of kayaking and have never experienced pain before in my first 2 years. I am in a smaller boat than most times but as it is more stable i am using it while i get stable again (i have used this boat a lot over the last 2 years) so i havent really been using by legs or hips but do rotate by upper body but i have never really used them a great deal as i am always so unstable.

Will excessive gym work cause pain when i go back on the water?
I paddle with a high angle in a race kayak.
I am only 16 so i havent experienced pain in the past

Thanks for your replys

No way for any of us to know

– Last Updated: Jan-24-16 4:07 PM EST –

There are so many possible causes for shoulder pain during this kind of exercise. Each person who reads this will likely interpret your symptoms via their own personal perspective, which most likely is not applicable in your case.

IMHO, you should not be feeling pain for any excusable reason. There is something wrong, and you need to find out what it is from someone more expert than any of us. A first step might be to take a break and see if things are better when you start up again. If that fails, I'd be asking a doctor - a shoulder specialist - for help.

Oh, and here's an example of how complicated this can be. I just read this stuff a couple weeks ago. There is a group of disorders (three, actually) within a type of problem called Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. The most common one, and the one strictly associated with pain and nothing else, is Neural Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, where a nerve bundle gets pinched between the collarbone and the first rib. It commonly presents itself only after significant weight training, because enlarged muscles further restrict the already-small passageways though which the affected nerve bundle passes. Don't assume I am sure this is your problem, but do realize that this illustrates one extreme on the scale of variety when it comes to shoulder problems. This particular problem tends to show up in cases where arm-over-shoulder activity is involved, and it is quite common in young athletes.

A couple of thoughts:
I caught right away that “it hurts more going up stream” then down stream.

You also said that you were paddling easy, but if you were paddling up stream it is natural that you are putting more pressure on your shoulders.

Also even though you said you were taking it easy, you right away after some time off went back to six miles. (paddling is not like weight lifting)

Try taking a couple of days off, and then try again, but only do three miles.

If that turns out OK, then gradually increase the distance and speed. Don’t try to get right up to racing pace.

Lastly remember ibuprofen is your friend!

Don’t hesitate to take a few at the end of each training session.

good luck!

jack L

I live with "thoracic outlet syndrome"
and have never done weight training in my life.

It came on slowly about three years ago, and I can paddle all day long, including long distance racing) and never feel it, but I can be assured that the pain and numbness will wake me every night starting at about midnight.

Jack L

All of which means nothing
I DID say that this was just an example to show that pain that crops up could be quite different than what immediately comes to mind. The fact that your TOS came on gradually in recent years doesn’t nullify the established fact that it frequently comes on suddenly at a young age when compounded by strength training, which of course goes along with my whole point that none of us are in any position to project our own experiences for the purpose of prescribing what is best to do. Suggesting sensible approaches is one thing, and good for you for doing that, but no single anecdote can contradict any one possibility.

More Paddlers Injured by Weight Training
Than paddling on the water. Why? Because they train conventionally, even under expert supervision. That is you got to “cheat,” and use your entire or whole body when exercising with weights like you do in your kayak. “Cheating” is frowned upon in the gym and it never fails, someone with good intentions will come up and tell me “I’m doing it wrong.” With the exception of my rotator cuffs and some antagonist muscles, I avoid isolated exercises and cheat all the time trying to involve as many muscle groups as I can in the movement. Sure, you’ll look awkward and everyone will think you don’t know how to lift, but your muscles, joints, tendons and other soft tissue will appreciate it. Ice and rest for now.

You are 16, you should not be hurting from paddling. Mindlessly popping pain killers is OK for people over 60 but pain is your bodies way of saying something is out of whack and you need to listen to it.

Ibuprofen reduces swelling so it eases the pain caused by the swelling. At your age you should not have swelling from 6 miles of paddling.

Give your body time to rest and heal, like a week off maybe. and start over. If the pain returns you are doing something wrong. Poor technique or you have an injury that hasn’t healed.

What type of paddle do you use? Old farts realize pretty quickly a smaller blade = less strain on the body without a significant loss of speed. Most boats have a relatively fixed top speed beyond wich takes an unproportianely larger output from the motor (you) for a diminishing return in speed.

On the other hand, 16 is prime growing years, Many teens experience joint pain as a matter of course. Impossible to diagnose over the Internet.

Let it rest, then focus on technique, and if it continues seek some professional help.

Couple of thoughts
Thought - If you aren’t using your legs or knees you are unlikely to be rotating as effectively as if you used a pedaling motion. The less you do that and engage your core, the more stress you put on your shoulders. Years when I am doing things correctly I take off at least an inch from my waist when I start actually paddling outside on the water - it is from the using my core and rotating.

Thought - You are young and pushing it too hard in getting ready.

Thought - If you are too concerned about your stability to use your legs effectively, you are likely tense in your lower body and maybe holding some in your shoulders as well. As soon as you can, take the boat out and start capsizing on purpose and learning how to get back in. You need to get by that concern to focus on your paddle stroke well.

First learn technique then train. Counter productive doing it the other way around.

If you’re having issues with balance, you definitely need to learn technique and have fun paddling first. Training for a boat you can’t balance in doesn’t do much of anything.

Bill H.

That’s The Trouble
You’re stuck in the same rut and will never improve by paddling “stable” kayaks. Save the “stability before ability” sales pitch for the 40 and over set who can afford to buy a new “stable” kayak every year and think they’re improving. If you can find an Olympic K-1 to paddle, then you’re in business. Find someone who’ll show you how to bail it after a capsize and give you pointers. The rest is up to you. Use whatever paddle is convenient or available. You can switch later to a wing, etc. But for now old style Olympic flat blades are fine, because you can easily paddle forward, backwards and sideways with them and do a lot of fool around strokes too in developing your proprioception.

Right now, let your shoulders heal. Maybe get them checked for impingement or some other ailment?


– Last Updated: Jan-25-16 9:36 AM EST –

Look over 'anatomy shoulder' in Google Images...locate the pain.

Is pain in the joint, glenohumorous or along the arm, back, clavicle, under scapula ?

In the joint ? Stop, visit DR.

Along arm maybe tendonitis. Stop see DR.

SCAPULA ? Stop. Pulled muscle. Rest. stretch infrascapularis when rested.

Clavicle ? DR.

TRY no red meat for 3 weeks

Lay flat on back sleeping. Shoulders flat, arms on flat in comfortable position.

No exercise. Read abt stretching ex at EXRX.COM n library but rest for 2-3 weeks.

After resting week, try 3-4 days glucosamine to judge effect.

Increased mobility in Glen joint would indicate prob there.

I have a 'hitch' in my right deltoid jolting short sharp pain from a throwing motion. Muscle pull ? Slow to heal.

Turned my back on the ocean, wave slammed scapula. No throw motion for 6 months.

One acute tendonitis from wrist weights jogging: 3 months. Seizure level sharp pain.

Basic injuries.

Know RICE ? Search: RICE injury

Since you picked me up on it and said
a sixteen year older shouldn’t be taking ibuprofen;

I’ll complete disagree with you and say that you are WRONG !

I’ll stand by what I said, and you might get your facts together before making a false statement

Enough said on my part!

Jack L

Feel better?
You can get off my leg now if your done.

I’ll stand by what I said. A 16 year old shouldn’t be taking painkillers to train.

gym is not

– Last Updated: Jan-25-16 9:38 AM EST –

on the water. The difference between the two motions prob either caused or increased an existing problem.
Maybe in the glenohumerous. or tendon or muscle 'pull'

different motions use different muscle/tendon/joint positions. If you build strength for one motion the buildup may decrease mobility in a similar but different motion. Increased pressure in this conflict may produce pain or damage.

Lot of this is based on the push pull of adjacent muscle sets for leveraging strength.

Usually stretching/warmup reduces the problem for not weight training people.

The vastus medialus on the inside thigh is a common muscle example. The vastus type muscles position the knee joint/knee cap to hinge effectively without wear giving power. Apparently the larger population does nt properly exercise the vastus medialus with increased knee injuries.

Tendon/ligament/bursa positions n the knee are 'worn in'. When knee, with an incorrectly positioned knee hinge for max power without injury' is forced to work harder, the hinge slips out of the worn pathways and malfunctions. Or 'burns': knee burn is common when asking knee to repeat new cycling motions over distance. the knee is breaking in to a new motion n that 'burns'

A sport example in bicycling. All cycling is divided into 3 parts: flatland time trialers, mountain hill climbers and MTB riders. 3 different muscle training groups.

Few thoughts
Sounds strikingly similar to what I went through last year.

I could paddle, even race with the injury, but it got increasingly worse; to the point that I almost abandoned during an 8 miler-definitely slowed me down.

I ended up getting pretty poor results throughout 2015. I wish I would have caught it before summer.

It was more or less a dull aching pain that would increase the longer I paddled at threshold speed.

My diagnosis was Rotator cuff strain and bursitis due to overuse.

2 weeks of Ibuprofen and no paddling. Was given exercises as physical therapy.

Here are the exercises. You should notice marked improvement.

As a paddler and especially a racer you should absolutely include these exercises before and after you train.

I do them now as preventative maintenance. It’s worth it if you care about being at your best.

That being said-of course, you should see a DR for verification and treatment. I personally prefer a D.O.

Mountain Paddler

please see a physical therapist

– Last Updated: Jan-25-16 11:31 AM EST –

GBG is right, people will give you personal anecdotal feedback on this that may or may not help.

Bottom line is that at your age paddling should not hurt other than typical exercise fatigue.

Bottom line is that a 16 year-old should not have to rely on pain killers to train. I did serious damage to my knees doing exactly this in college. I'd recommend you run as fast as you can from any advice saying that the pain and regular ibuprofen or other NSAID use is acceptable at your age. You can do damage to your body and overuse of NSAIDS is bad for your liver.

The pain could be from overuse. The pain could be from incorrect form. Or the pain could be from gym exercise, I completely agree on the feedback Clyde provided regarding typical gym exercise targeting only one muscle or muscle group. IMO gym exercise of this sort is the old way and is only for bodybuilders.

What PT may do, though, is give you more muscle-specific exercises to reinforce and counterbalance those you've been building.

Exercise your judgment instead

– Last Updated: Jan-25-16 1:23 PM EST –

Pain from repetitive motions at age 16 is a sign to stop doing that motion until it heals.

In the meantime, I agree with slushpaddler that seeing a physical therapist probably will help. You will have to go to your primary care physician or a physician's assistant first, though, just to be allowed to start PT. I went through this process a few months ago. PT are not allowed to do therapy without that hoop being jumped first. In my case, I stopped in with a PT I had seen previously for a different injury, and he told me, based on my description of symptoms, that PT could help. But I still had to see a doc first.

PT use a variety of techniques to help you heal. Unlike just getting a cortisone shot or taking pills, you recover with some effort on your part as well (home exercises between the therapy sessions). There will likely be some light weight training involved, at the PT office, NOT in a regular gym. They will correct improper body mechanics and posture. You might be advised to take some antiflammatories at first, but this should be done only if the pain exists at other times besides doing what triggered it, or if keeps you from sleeping.

I disagree with the comments about isolating muscles in weight training. In the 1980s I began Nautilus training for offseason bike race conditioning. A side effect was that, in a few years, an old shoulder injury felt much, much better. A couple of months ago I told my PT about this, and he said he liked those Nautilus machines, which I have not seen in ages. They allowed concentrating on weak muscle instead of training it plus all the "helpers". Sometimes you have to strengthen a muscle that has not been worked in the right balance with surrounding muscles and ligaments. That is what isolating exercises do. It is not the same as weight training when everything is in good balance and correct biomechanics have been maintained.

One of the hardest things at any age, but especially when young or middle-aged, is to stop "testing" an injured part. By the time you get old, you have learned that that slows the healing process. But it is soooo tempting to see if maybe that pain went away miraculously! Nope. Give it a rest and careful rehab instead.

Good luck, and post back here after you go to the doc!

BTW, exercising judgment sometimes is the hardest thing to do.