Sore shoulder

I’m new to Kayaking. I signed my family up for a kayaking class with a local instructor three weekends ago.

The following weekend I took the family camping and paddling down the Pine River in western Michigan. This is a narrow river with some white water here and there. It’s officially rated a class I. Having rafted the Yough in OhioPyle, PA and the New in West Va, I think the Pine is pretty tame.

We spent 5.5 hours paddling down the river. We rented kayaks from a local outfitter. I was given an Old Town Loon 110, while my wife & daughter were in Old Town Otters. The paddles were nothing special. The blades were completely flat and squared off at the ends.

I found that the adjustable foot pegs in my Loon kept slipping when I put a lot of pressure on them, so I ended up either paddling with little knee bracing as my legs got straightened out, or I was often kneeling down to reset the peg positions.

I tried hard to maintain proper paddling technique. There were times when I was paddling hard - either to experiment paddling upstream, or to reposition my kayak to catch the best white water.

For the past week since the trip, my left shoulder has been quite sore.

Is this a sign of poor technique or just that I’m not as limber as I used to be?

I’m 36, 5’11" and 200 pounds. I ride a mountain bike regularly, recently 80 - 100 miles per week in training for a Multiple Sclerosis fund raising event where I’ll be covering 150 miles in two days.


5.5 hours
If you’re new to paddling and went out for 5.5 hours, you probably have muscles that hurt that you didn’t even know you had!

It could be the technique, lack of footbraces, etc. My shoulders might be a little stiff after a particularly long day on the water but usually not. Ease into it, keep at it, and you’ll get there.

getting old
well, not really. But you are at that age where your body starts to not bounce back as quickly as it used to. Did you stretch your shoulders before kayaking? There are some good yoga stretches you can do anywhere, quickly, that keep me from falling apart in the shoulders. If you want details, email me.

combination of things
in no particular order -

using muscles you don’t normally use

slipping foot pegs

the outfitter not providing the best gear (paddle and kayak)

5.5 hours in a kayak

A big factor could be muscle imbalance. If you are very right hand dominate the kayaking could have forced you to use your left side more than you normally use it. This is good because you are brining the muscles into balance. If you are very left hand dominate you could have used your left side a lot to compensate for your under-utilized right side.

Your age should not be a factor (at least I hope not since I am only a few years younger than you).

If I were were new to kayaking and
paddled five hours in a kayak that wasn’t outfitted correctly for me and paddled it with a heavy cheap paddle I would fully expect to have a sore shoulder.

Ice and ibuprofen and rest it, and then when it is better ease back into it and build up to it just as you have built up your biking mileage.

Age has nothing to do with it!



Still sore after a week?
Any improvement? Does it hurt all the time, or just certain movement? Normal sore muscles should show some improvement after a few days, so if you’re just as sore a whole week later you may have torn or really inflamed something. If you were paddeling with your shoulders vs. torso rotation you could have done something to your rotor cuff muscle. Ice, Ibuprofen, and rest over time might do the trick. If it dosen’t you might want to think about some PT to tighten things back up. One thing you don’t want to do is continue to aggravate by doing more activity with the shoulder.

That’s a wide, slow boat you were in … with your weight plus what ever else, all that displacment is pushing the boat lower in the water … now you’ve got a barge not a kayak. You may have been using more muscle than technique.

Too Much Too Soon
5-1/2 hours for a rookie is too much not to expect soreness in muscles you haven’t “really” used for years. You should have eased yourself into paddling just like you probably did with your bicycling.

Try some “soft exercises” with a stretch band to strengthen your shoulder muscles.

Any day on the water is a great day,


Thanks for all the response
The shoulder isn’t that bad now that it’s been 8 days since the paddle.

Yesterday there were some twinges of soreness, especially if I lifted and rotated it a certain way. That was following two days where I rode 33 miles and 46 miles, respectively.

I took 600mg of Ibuprofen in the morning and didn’t have any more trouble for the rest of the day.

Today, it’s feeling fine.

Thanks, all.

glad to hear it
Obviously, you’re not old. That was a joke (I’m 10 years older than you). But my point was, it’s important to stretch out your muscles beforehand to prevent injury. Before paddling, I do shoulder stretches with a yoga strap (or my dog’s leash), torso rotation stretches, and hip openers. It helps prevent injury, and even if I have some pain or soreness after the paddle, it also helps it heal more quickly. Taking a class in paddling technique will help you as well. Life is more fun without pain! Good luck!





Tightness, yes. Soreness , no.
Somethin’ ain’t right.I have cased it by paddling incorrectly,boat/paddle mismatch, overuse.

And I am 26 years older than you
At my age you don’t have to worry about stretching.

They have already been stretched to their limit and won’t go back to normal.

As a matter of fact, one of my biceps went “bong”, a few years ago, and now I have a “unicep”.



Old age Jim
old age

Get a rocking chair and come join me on the front porch. Bring your paddle too and we can make believe we are in boats



The paddling half of me is still good
Jack. It’s the walking half that is the problem. My dad always told me I was going to wear something out with all those hiking miles. He may have been right.