Sore Shoulders

Due to a recently injured rotator cuff at one shoulder and an old injury to the other, I have a lot of pain by the end of a day. I paddle a Pintail with a carbon 210 Werner Shuna, straight shaft. I really like the paddle and it supports a high angle style that I prefer. People have advised me to start using a low angle to reduce shoulder pain, so I’m going to give that a try. The Shuna only really works right when I use the high angle, so I’m looking for a good light weight low angle paddle. Any suggestions?

Thank you in advance for your advice. BTW, I’m 5’8, 150lb.


low angle…
I don’t know about you but I feel strain upon my shoulder muscles if I use a lower angle stroke. Don’t know how it would impact the rotator cuff.


Try a …
Greenland paddle. I used to have pains after a long day of paddling. The GP helped.

Maybe Epic Relaxed Tour with burgundy
shaft. It has a relatively small blade and the burgundy shaft is the flexier of their two shafts and mine in full carbon weighs about 22oz on my wife’s kitchen scale. If you get the length lock ferrule, you can adjust the length 10cm. Mine adjusts from 215cm to 225cm.

I find it to be easier on my shoulders than my 215cm Onno Signature Mid Tour, 218cm Onno Full Carbon Full Tour and 220cm carbon Bending Branches Spirit with Day blade and 220cm Werner Kalliste. cooldoctor1’s 210 fiberglass Shuna did seem to work better for high angle strokes than my Epic Relaxed Tour set to 215cm when I tried his Prijon Barracuda last summer. I think that the Epic is a little better for low angle strokes than the Shuna. If you get the adjustable length, then you can vary your stroke angle. YMMV.

Like Bower1, I’m not sure if lower angle technique will reduce stress on the shoulders. Reduced blade loading (less powerfull blade) and employing more leg drive and torso rotation seem to be a good combination to reduce my shoulder stress. Paddles with highly loaded blades kill my shoulders.

Greenland Paddle
or a Windswift.

After shoulder surgery
my shoulder would bothered me during a long paddle and for days after. I heard that a greenland paddle might reduce some of the stress on the shoulder so I gave it a try. I have been able to paddle for a much longer period of time with much less discomfort during and after paddling. My shoulder has been feeling better the last couple years and I think next year I’ll give the euro paddle a try again. I like a lot of bite from my paddle and look forward to using a euro again. The characteristics of the greenland paddle that I feel helped me out was the more gradual bite of the paddle throughout the stroke and the placement of my hands being much closer together which reduces the amount of movement your shoulders do. You can simulate this with your euro paddle by moving your hands closer together and using a low stroke.

The GP really helped with my shoulder issues. Along with aiding in shoulder comfort, I think you will find many other positive paddling advantages. Good luck!

Check out the Werner interactive
paddle selection module:

I can’t recommend a paddle, but …
I would think a low angle stroke would put a lot more stress on your shoulder than a high angle one would.



AT paddle (?) and diagnose your stroke
maybe talk to a physical therapist about exercises to strength your shoulders. Get some expert advice on your forward stroke.

I agree…
…with paddlemore, see a PS or even better a GP who will recommend a qualified PS. You may need a series of excercises that will strengthen your shoulders if the GP sees no new physical problem with your shoulders. See “frozen shoulder” links for my shoulder situation.

I personally don’t see how changing paddles or alternating stroke styles will help.

Thanks to all…
For the advice. Maybe I need to re-think the low angle approach - I would much prefer to stay with my present style anyway. The question might be: where can I find a PT who understands paddling?

In any case, I appreciate all the advice. Thanks.


I can’t help but think a different
paddle would make a lot of difference, even if you didn’t change your stroke style. Something like a Werner Kaliste, that doesn’t have such a big blade, so your shoulder will take less of a load. Technically it may not be a “high angle” blade, but it’s all about getting from here to there while having fun and with minimal discomfort. I have a fairly high angle style, but I don’t have a lot of shoulder strength and at the right length, the Kaliste is the right blade for me mile after mile.

My Experience

– Last Updated: Dec-16-07 5:47 AM EST –

I had a rotator cuff injury several years back. The more torso I put into the stroke the less my shoulder hurt.

Try a Greenland paddle; keep your elbows down, and put a lot of torso into your stroke.

I like my Lumpy:

Mmm... cortisone.

Might be time to forget the PT and
see a good orthepedist (sp) and gdet a MRI.

My wife took a nasty spill on her bike about four years ago,injured her shoulder and her paddling career almost ended since she couldn’t back paddle and had a lot of pain in that shoulder.

The doctor had her doing PT, and all that it did was make it hurt more.

He finally did a MRI and it turned out it was a rotator cuff tear.

She had it operated on and then did the recoup PT faithfully and she has been as good as before the accident ever since.



Good Morning Jack
Luckily a shot of cortisone helped me recover after my collision with the dog.

The rain has already quit. Sure could have used more but it looks like we’ll have a bike ride in some stiff wind this morning.


Another option
You might consider a wooden paddle, since you like your current stroke – The combination of wood’s natural flex (which isn’t too much at all) and a slightly smaller blade may work wonders if you don’t want to switch to a GP.

My .02 worth :slight_smile:

Shoulder problems
I’ve had rotator cuff surgery twice in my right shoulder and once in my left. A lower angle of paddling helped me, but everybody is different! I started with a physical therapist this fall, after all the water around here got hard. I brought my paddle to our first session to show him exactly where the pain and weaknesses were. I am feeling a lot stronger after 6 weeks of work.

I started going to a gym and doing the paddlers workout I found on this site. It hurts like hell in the beginning. Take it slow, and don’t be stupid, get professional help and guidance.

It sucks getting old, and you young guys out there, take care of your body. I sure wish I had when I was younger.

Good advice agongos!
If I had known a few months back I had Frozen Shoulder (such a Mickey Mouse name isn’t it?), I would have got right into physio and that would have reduce my recovery a lot. But noooooooo!,long waiting time for MRIs delayed things and interpretation of MRI results from my GP didn’t make things easy.

And agongso, don’t you winch when (if) you watch these home renovations shows where the guys rip the homes up. Makes me shoulder just shudder? They will pay for it later in life.

As the poster above noted, everyone is different; what might seem initially to be the cause, might me masking something else, as Nanci discovered.

I have impingement syndrome and spurs in both shoulders (to match the heel spurs I also have amassed in my ‘years of abuse when I was younger’ body file). Activities that force the angle of the shoulder to rise above 90 degrees leave me in pain for days, such as raking, snow shoveling, etc., even mountain biking, especially rides involving portaging. I do work out in the gym still, but stay away from any overhead presses, dumbbell flyes (except with thumbs up), lat pulldowns, pullups…

Ironically, paddling makes me feel best of all-no pain whatsoever. When I stop or lay off for a period of time, the muscles begin to atrophy causing imbalances, and again, pain. Currently I’m using a wing and a modified high angle stroke. Narrower boats, such as my ski, allow me to concentrate on a tight catch at the beginning of the stroke and free my hips for rotation, rotation, rotation, accompanied by leg drive. Blade size doesn’t seem to matter for me. I can power a larger blade, but feel it mainly in some of the tendons and ligaments after a long effort-my usual blade is a mid, and I concentrate on never raising my elbows above a right angle to my torso-this puts my hands at or slightly below eye level.

So…based on my experience, which may apply in parts, or perhaps not at all…

-strengthening the shoulders is key to prevent imbalances-this is what PTs will do with you with band work, to accompany the stretching, massaging, and Ultrasound. I’d add that you fully warm up the area prior to the exercise as well, with both slow static stretches, and controlled active stretches (using a paddle in front of or behind your neck). Get some blood flow to the tissues in that area. A little Ibuprofen prior to a paddle might help also to buffer.

-focus on your stroke, particularly torso rotation. Keeping your elbows semi-rigid and bent will force you to let the muscles of your trunk propel the boat-intercostals to lats, to obliques, etc.

-consider trying a paddle that forces you to use these torso muscles and proper leg drive with rotation, like a wing. At first it may feel alien and awkward, but you adjust quickly, or rather, it will adjust you. Smile.

-if pain persists, consider other exploratory medical diagnoses (MRIs,etc.), that may give you more localized and detailed info.

Good luck, I feel for you. Working my stiff right shoulder through a range of motion as I type, thanks to the snowstorm we had the other day…