Straight v bent shaft paddle for injury

Would like some opinions on straight shaft versus bent shaft paddles for tennis elbow. After a 10 mile paddle last week I was having some serious pain in my elbow. First time this has bothered even though my elbow has pain pretty much all the time. My other hand has arthritis, bone spur, a bone out of place and torn ligaments from so far back surgery is not an option. Thankfully this hand does not bother me after paddling. YET!!!

I have read that bent shafts are easy on the joints, but is this true or just a sales hype? Won’t be paddling this weekend because of the elbow, so I’ve got to do something. Did wear a brace on the elbow last week and it didn’t bother me to much until I was ready to load up and then had LOTS of pain. I have Malone Sea Wings on top of a 4-Runner, so I pretty much have to throw the yak up the last few inches. Good thing I’m 6’4" or probably couldn’t do it.

Any suggestions on a bent shaft that’s easy on the joints. Have looked at Werner Kalliste and searched through the archives, but didn’t find much. Currently paddle a Hurricane Tracer with a 230cm Aquabound Carbon Shaft Eagle Ray.

Any advice or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

hmm . . . elbows.
I think of bent shaft paddles helping you keep your wrist straight, and I’m less sure how the bent shaft would effect your elbow.

At any rate, a first place to start might be technique, before equipment. Perhaps minimizing elbow movement by using more torso rotation would help your problem. (Or perhaps not at all. This advice is worth what you’re paying for it.) If you haven’t had a paddling lesson with a well-regarded coach, it might be worth the money. Perhaps they could offer you some stroke improvements that may keep you paddling.

Check first on your forward stroke form
Most people either don’t rotate their torso or only rotate their shoulders. That stresses all parts of the arm. Get Brent Reitz’s video and follow his advice to the letter. It will make a big difference. Also consider going to zero degree feather.

What they said
Hard to comment without seeing you paddle.

I’d invest so time and money into instruction, or rather one on one with a good forward stroke coach.

Oh, I bet next posts are going to advise Greenland style paddles.

Not this post.

– Last Updated: May-06-10 9:07 PM EST –

I advise a canoe paddle. Shoulder problems from an old injury started bothering me a year or so ago, and I switched to a canoe paddle for both the kayak and canoe. No problems.

For kayak paddling, try envisioning holding a beach ball between your elbows without dropping it when you paddle. Keeping your arms more straight, more often is key to an efficient stroke. That mental exercise helped me understand the range of movement I needed when I was starting.

I use a Greenland paddle
as well as conventional paddles. I don’t think it makes any difference if you have bad form. And good form is actually very much the same for both.

I have paddled with tennis elbow so bad
I couldn’t touch it.Paddling did not affect it at all as long as I had an elbow brace on.

As prone as I am to the problem, paddling has never initiated it.

I agree that paddling didnt initiate
tennis elbow and it can be nasty sore but i can paddle with Band It braces - i always have tennis elbow so i always use them to take a little stress off them.

Bent shaft

– Last Updated: May-07-10 7:15 AM EST –

Bent shafts allow a somewhat more relaxed grip to come "naturally" without the paddler thinking about it. So less gripping = less stress. But the rest is the same (rest, meaning you still have to paddle it and that takes effort, and some injuries you just have to wait them out dry...). I think that with a good technique you can do the same relaxed grip with a straight shaft.

A Greenland Paddle vs a Euro - if you paddle them the way they are supposed to be paddled there can be quite a difference. You can't efficiently do a low-elbow 20" apart hands with most Euro blades like you can with a GP. Most Euros are not designed to work with this technique. So there can be a difference depending on how you paddle a GP vs. Euro but would that difference help for you? Don't know and with poor technique the GP can actually stress some of your joints more than a Euro (ask me about my early weeks with the GP)!

Every time something has hurt with me so far I have been able to address by improved technique and practice.

Lastly, get a shorter paddle unless you can chop-off 10-20cm off your current one ;)

But if you want a bent shaft - the Kalliste is a great low angle paddle but do not go over 220cm with it. I personally would prefer the Cyprus in 210 cm at the most if you are average height in the Tracer. Also consider AT xCeption (spelling) - the bends are somewhat different compared to Werners and some like them better, plus the shape on the blade is different too.

My real-world experience
I started paddling a touring kayak with a 230 Werner Camano w/standard shaft. I worked hard at rotating my torso and maintaining a loose grip, but I still started to feel the twinges of tennis elbow.

Bought an AY Exception, and every bit of pain disappeared. Like night and day. I do not think that I rotated any more efficiently with the AT, so I attribute the pain-free status to AT’s mild bent shaft.

My last kayak paddle purchase was a Mitchell Horizon GP in 230. I took to that paddle like a fish to water. Not only is there no hint of elbow pain, but the smaller blades and higher cadence are “softer” on my old body. Love GPs!