What Muscles Do You Use Kayaking?

-- Last Updated: Feb-29-08 3:18 PM EST --

When I first acquired my kayak and went on my first trip, about 4+ miles, I felt no muscle soreness afterwards. Last weekend, I paddled against strong wind and currents and also afterwards felt no muscle soreness.

I am wondering what muscles, muscle group or part of your body is mostly used when kayaking?


You must be doing something right - spreading the stress over an even area.

I’m usually like you after a paddle but on long days I can feel sore from my calves, to my rear, to my lats. Sometimes my shoulders but only if I’ve had to work real hard.

I must be doing something right too…
Rarely do I have any muscle soreness from paddling. My seat in my CLC bothers me after being in it for awhile. The Artisan has a very comfortable seat and have never had an issue with it.


Sane here
After a hard paddle, my legs, butt, and lats are the muscles that’ll let me know it. Sometimes my abs, too, as I use a Greenland technique where you add a stomach crunch to your forward stroke when paddling head-on into a high wind. But normally, I have no pain or localized fatigue with normal paddling of 30 miles or less.

Oops, meant “same” here. Spell check!

My Husband Would Kill Me
for saying this, BUT, his BUTT used to hurt using the seat that came w/his Big Game Prowler 13. He bought a Surf To Summit seat and said it felt better, although I had my doubts. The seat design has what I’d called padded panels. It doesn’t look that comfortable. I sat in it…it doesn’t feel that great. I have my original seat which I find quite comfortable in my Heritage Redfish 14.

The comfort of the bottom of a seat is one thing, but it’s another if there are back problems. I think seats can be like backpacks when hiking. They need to be in just the right position to feel good and function well. Not cinching a backpack properly can make for an uncomfortble hike. I see a lot of kids wearing their book bags w/them hanging way down off their back, not good!


Well Wayne, it’s good you are also sane or what you say would not count as much, LMAO!!!


Good correction Wayne
What a drag if people on this board were sane!

By the way - we have the cabin in Friendship for the month of July. Are you guys going to be that way then?

Most of us on this forum use our lip muscles more than any other. VF

Yer kin’ type wit yer lips?
Wow! Tried it wit me big toe once - de foot powder clogged up me keyboard.

Fat Elmo

in surf?
mostly the cremaster.

my first day out
if I haven’t been out for a long time, my butt hurts. The sciatica thing. If it’s rough out, sometimes I’ll get what must be carpal tunnel. 'Nuf said. Any other time nothing hurts. Somewhere down there under all that fat I must have a mean six pack.

I hear ya. You got stinkin feet? You gotta wash out da footwear after each kayak trip ‘n follow up w/a machine washin’.

Of course my feet smell like roses:)


latissimus dorsi, serratus anterior
and to lesser extent, deltoid, rhomboid and levator scapulae.

Hope that helps your paddling, Capri.

From a lot of posts, it seems that
the muscle in the crotch is the one most used in kayaking. Hee, hee, just joking of course.

probably not Carpal Tunnel
Hey Bohemia,

What you think might be carpal tunnel might actually be your shoulders. Check it out, to see if you have knots in your shoulders. These little knots in your muscles cause pressure on the nerves which cause the hand numbness. Very easy to misdiagnose as carpal tunnel when in fact it might be the shoulders.

not uncommon to tense the shoulders when paddling hard and causing the little knots.


What Muscles Do You Use Kayaking?
Answer: Beer muscles. And beer goggles, too.

carpal tunnel
bohemia, I’ve just had sugery on my left hand for CTS. I will get my right hand done next. Ordinary paddling didn’t bother me at all, but when I had to really put the pressure on to paddle against current and wind, my hands would go to sleep. They would hurt a little before that, but not long before the numbness would occur.

We may be passing through at the very least during July. We were thinking about getting a campsite at Hermit Island for a week (If that’s possible – they’re usually booked solid by mid-feb for the season), and maybe going to the Magdalene Islands or Gaspe Peninsula another week. Either way, we’ll likely be in the vicinity sometime in July.

All depends on what happens where I work — more layoffs and possible office closings on tap. Nobody’s safe this time, because even producers took a pay cut as of today. So, vacation plans will be dependent on the employment situation. Hopefully, I find a new job before either the ax falls, or summer comes.

If you aren’t hurting
you just aren’t trying hard enough.

Try a wider boat – search for “barge” references here on the forum. Maybe look for something that is 30 inches wide or more.

You can also get a heavier paddle. Think aluminum and plastic – make sure it’s long with wide blades.

You may also want to adjust your technique. Try more awkward strikes, use a high angle, and maybe even turn your paddle around backwards to decrease efficiency.

Make sure and keep your torso very still and paddle with your arms – that helps a lot for tuning those arm muscles.

Hope this helps…

Remember, no pain, no gain!


P.S. I’m being a wise ass (this is standard practice on the forums in case you are new here)