Torso rotation & bad shouder

My left shoulder is arthritic, bone on bone with cushioning cartilage pretty much gone. As sea kayakers we learn that torso rotation, rather than ‘arm paddling’, is important for efficiency on longer trips. As another benefit, I find that torso rotation is much easier on my bad shoulder. Locking my elbow during the power phase of the stroke is my reminder to rotate my torso.
As a counter example, I also cross country ski where the efficacy of torso rotation is not so pronounced. This activity is harder on my shoulder.
However, every shoulder is potentially different.


I have a similar shoulder and find that torso rotation prevents it from getting too painful .

Paying close attention to discomfort has been good for my paddling. I have definitely reduced shoulder movement and increased torso rotation as a result of noticing shoulder pain developing. The same with keeping my wrists from flexing. If my whole chest is turning along with the paddle shaft, that angle between my wrists and the paddle shaft doesn’t change - this is the paddlers box thing. I’ve eliminated lower back discomfort by always releasing all pressure from my foot on the side opposite my stroke during the forward stroke and sweep strokes. This allows the hips to remain relaxed, allows the hip bones to rotate easily using a lot less foot pressure. And in turn, for whatever reason, eliminates lower back stress and discomfort. I could probably think of other things too. I’ve definitely become a better and stronger paddler through signs provided by discomfort.


What a good point - discomfort can be a great instructor! I’ve had kayak instruction here and there, but have never had an instructor emphasize that idea.

Oh I do sympathise! The thought of soreness was putting me off going paddling. I researched Greenland Paddles desperate for a way of continuing paddling but without the shoulder soreness. I bought a GP and it certainly helps avoid the soreness helping me paddle longer and further BUT only by using torso rotation and correct technique. I can personally and thoroughly recommend trying a Greenland Paddle if you have chronic soreness in the shoulder region.

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I too use a GP, but my favorite is my Nimbus quill. In both cases they are very light paddles with relatively narrow width … especially the GP. I also have a Euro which I use less. Finally, I have an Aleutian paddle, but it is too heavy for my shoulder.
In short, technique is crucial, but (as you point out) so is the paddle style.

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I have a paddle similar to the Nimbus that was made by Eddyline.

Two suggestions that helped me before I got my shoulder replaced. I was about to give up kayaking because the pain was so bad but first I got a Werner Athena all carbon paddle, 22 oz. That helped so much that later in the season I was able to return to the larger Werner Kalliste.

Second, I made a cord to serve as a pivot point. My observation was that when you push the paddle shaft forward with one arm, you’re pushing against the opposite shoulder, which serves as a pivot point. Painful! So I wondered what else could serve as a pivot point besides the bad shoulder. I drilled a 1/4" hole horizontally through the coaming at the front of the cockpit. I ran a cord through that. I attached one end of the cord to the strap around the paddle shaft. I attached two toggles to the cord to adjust the length (distance of the paddle from the chest). The cord serves as a pivot point. In fact, you can almost paddle one handed this way. This is just a very simple version of the Angle Oar, which uses the central upright as a pivot point.

The cord reduced my pain by about 50%. It feels unnatural at first but you can get used to it with practice.

My advice to people with shoulder or hip arthritis is to not delay getting the joint replaced. I had to delay those surgeries a number of years. During those years the rest of my health suffered from inactivity.


This isn’t about rotation but I had a separated rotator (x ray) about five years ago and my husband’s climbing partner in the PNW is a Northwestern trained surgeon and rescue climber. He had fallen on a glacier and tore his hand thumb cartilage. He had success with bpc-157 and suggested I try it. I feel I have healed 100% although I’ll never know for sure why. I used it for about six weeks.
I’m beginning to see more about it. It has only been studied in vitro and experimental but probably harmless (peptides)

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