What did I do to my shoulder?

Just wondering if anyone else experiences these symptoms. If I windmill my arm, near the top of the rotation there’s a painful popping/grinding sensation in my shoulder. It also manifests itself during routine activities like hanging a shirt in my closet or opening a door. I think I did it a few weeks ago trying to paddle against too strong a current.

I stopped paddling except for a little demoing last week, with yesterday being my first excursion since then. It seemed the pain had all but gone away, but after maybe 6 miles or so the popping started up again. I finished the paddle okay, but today my shoulder really hurts.

Anyone have a similar problem? I know this isn’t a substitution for a trip to the doctor, but I’d settle for a little commiseration… :slight_smile:


Hard to say …
Where specifically in the shoulder is it popping and where does it hurt the most? Front of shoulder, on top, down the side? Does the pain radiate somewhere like down your arm into the biceps muscle? Have you noticed any decreased strength with the shoulder? Could be many things but the first thing that comes to mind (especially if it’s grinding/popping) is impingement syndrome. The Rotator cuff tendons on top of the humerus rub against a bone spur on the undersurface of your acromion bone (the flat bone on top of the shoulder) and caused irritation. Most times the grinding is from synovial tissue that gets balled up after a time, gets inflamed and hurts like crazy. Could be biceps tendon tear, rotator cuff tear (mimimal) etc. but with what you’ve said so far, I’d guess impingement sydrome. ie. overuse ----> inflamation

----anti-inflammatories, rest, with some PT exercises afterwards… However, a good shoulder wrenching from your local orthopedist is the best way to figure it out which you mentioned…

my shoulder issue
I too suffered a shoulder injury, simple repetitive motions such as using my mouse was very painful. Symptoms included numbness and tingling in thumb and first finger and stinging sensation, plus a popping sound when I rotated my shoulder. Turned out to be a pinched nerve in my shoulder plus some ongoing arthritis. Massage therapy, using my other shoulder for carrying my backpack, and time… finally healed after 9 months or so…

But see a doctor!

Not trying to play doctor.

– Last Updated: Sep-05-06 3:21 PM EST –

How old are you?

I now take Glucosamine Chondroitin every day. It was recommended by a Chiropractor who worked on my screwed up sholder a few years back. It builds cartilage and lubricates the joints. I couldn't do one pushup. I had all this advice from other shoulder injured people that I was going to need an orthoscopic Roto-Rooter job on the joint etc. After some anti-inflamitories and some chiropratic visits I got back to almost normal. Then you have to go easy with paddling or anything that hurts it for a while (months). I never stoped paddling. I just warmed up easy and never pushed into any pain.

No X-ray or any picture taking device can see if the socket needs a cleaning. That has to be done orthoscopically. So go the easy route with non invasive treatment and let the body heal. Gental stretching and weight bearing exercise helps.

There lots of Greenland paddlers out there who swiched over because of joints. It's the over-40 paddle.

You have to exercise reguarly. You can't be a weekend warrior once you get older.

Get thee
to an orthopedist ASAP and in the interim, take an antiinflammatory and rest it, would be my recommendation.

Sounds like impingement to me as well, as I had/have the same symptoms. Mine came about about from years of heavy weightlifting, and a mistaken ‘push through the pain’ mindset. This is all well and good when in the midst of the activity, but you can do permanent damage. I have two shoulder spurs, and have to carefully watch activities that stress the joint/s. No more overhead pressing, and for a while there, was on a disciplined regime of rubber band activities intended to strengthen the stabilizer muscles around the joint. the primary movers (deltoids) were far stronger and an imbalance was present. Ironically, paddling seems to be the best thing for it, working the muscles to some secondary degree with the crux of the power provided by torso rotation. Watch the height of your hand if you use a high angle stroke also-this can inflame the joint as well.

Thanks for the replies
It hurts at the top, and pain stays right inside the shoulder (not down into the arm). It sounds like the impingement syndrome you described Tebpac and rebrumley.

I’m nearly 35, already taking Glucosamine Chondroitin for my knees. Also doing the monthly massage ‘therapy’ for the fun of it :slight_smile:

I had a similar problem with the left shoulder last year following a pushup-gone-wrong. It still hurts occassionally, but not usually too bad.

I guess I will go see my doc. Luckily (?) winter is coming and that will mean a mandatory break since everything liquid freezes solid around here.

Thanks again!


Lately I’ve been trying to use a high-angle for the forward stroke, I wonder if that aggravated it? How high should my hand go? Sadly, the rental paddles are all way too long for me (230 cm) - would that result in my hand going too high?


Unless your boat is really wide,
you can’t do a high angle stroke with a 230 cm paddle. 210 - 215 would be more where it should be.

I’m not going to diagnose your shoulder problem because I’m not a doctor, but you should also see an instructor about how to do a good forward stroke.

Even with a high angle stroke, your hand should not go very high. Plus, most importantly make sure that your elbow is NEVER higher than your shoulders while doing anything - especially bracing.

Any time you raise your elbows above your shoulder or move them away from your body, you are risking a shoulder injury.

Kayak lessons are cheaper than surgery.

Had a couple classes,
I’m not going to diagnose your shoulder problem because I’m not a doctor

But… your name! :wink:

Even with a high angle stroke, your hand should not go very high. Plus, most importantly make sure that your elbow is NEVER higher than your shoulders

Aha, that has to be what did it. I do recall my instructor mentioning that now. Some lessons are harder than others…

Thanks everyone!


couple of possibilities
I had a similar incident evolve while paddling, for me it was just a simple tendonitis, but other things I was check for was possible bursitis or a meniscus tear. If you have received any trauma to your shoulder lately it increases the chances of a meniscus tear, but it is probbaly just inflamation. Let me caveat that with " I am not a doctor, nor do I really have any idea what I am saying." Based on my own experiences if you ice it for 3-4 days and then put heat on it and give it a break for a while it should clear up. If it is bursitis or tendonitis your posture while paddle might be the culprit. Just my two cents.

mysteries of forward stroke
hello up-a-creek, love your name, hate your troubles… Hope it is not a torn rotator cuff or anything that requires surgical correction.

You could say I am an aggressive novice paddler. I just took a paddling class with a certified instructor, worth every buck.

I have a 210 cm paddle, fledged right. I wear gloves. Kayak: 23.5" beam, 13.5 ft long, no rudder. She has a low deck and sits low on the water. He told me to go as fast as I could but maintaining form. I’m sure my form was lacking but my speed was credible. He immediately yelled at me that I had too much tophand and to lower my hands.

He was of course completely right.

Under his tutelage over the next four hours I converted to about 8-9 inches over the deck and concentrated on his mantra: reaching for the feet when extending the paddle, pushing with the hand on the opposite side, and making sure my arm fully extended (e.g no bent elbow) and keeping it all LOW. Also remembering to open the hand as I changed sides and gave the ferrule a slight twist. He said to maintain posture and lean slightly forward. Leaning back and paddling is the worst thing you can do, he said, for your back and shoulders.

I have about 13 hours in the water since that lesson and my paddling feels better with longer times of actual paddling and much more efficiency. Have much to learn, but I’m lovin’ it. Most importantly, I have no shoulder, arm or wrist pain. Not even a pain in the butt.

I wish you a painfree future, coming soon.

Forward Stroke
Hi friendlyfire, thanks for the tips. It sounds like you are on your way! Did you have one-on-one instruction?

I hope this won’t require surgery; already today it feels better than yesterday. Hopefully a lot of rest and a corrected technique will do the trick.