Kayaking Fun and Fitness
- Written by Paula Hoffmann, PT, MPT, MS Paula Hoffmann, PT, MPT, MS
- Published: 11 August 2017 11 August 2017
Recreational kayaking is an enjoyable activity here in central Pennsylvania due to many easily accessible waterways located close by. It is a way to get away from the general population and experience wildlife, flora and fauna that an individual walking or biking may not be able to access.
It is important for a beginner kayaker to have a proper fitting boat and paddle to make the activity more enjoyable and decrease risk of injury. It is also very important to be educated in basic paddling skills as well as safety measures to take as both moving water and lakes and ponds can be hazardous.
It is advantageous for both beginner and experienced paddlers to begin a conditioning program for the upper body prior to paddling season to maximize enjoyment and prevent injuries. Kayaking is mainly an upper body activity which requires that the shoulder musculature be in good condition as well as shoulder position be optimal to prevent impingement injuries. Forward positioned shoulders are at risk for injuries involving the rotator cuff tendons and at times the long head of the biceps tendon. Ensuring that the shoulders are positioned back and down, and the joint has good mobility will decrease the risk of overuse injuries. It is best not to ignore pain in and around the shoulder and think that you can just work through it. No pain, no gain is not the appropriate approach when dealing with overuse injuries. Shoulder stretches include a doorway stretch which improves flexibility of the pectoralis major which is a large contributor to the forward position of your upper arm. Also, a sleeper stretch to improve the mobility in the posterior capsule of the shoulder will improve shoulder position. I recommend holding stretches for up to 30 seconds and completing 3 times when your body tissues are warm.
Important strengthening exercises for the shoulders include the internal and external rotators of the shoulder joint, the middle trapezius, posterior deltoid and rhomboids in the back to help maintain good posture There are many other exercises to help improve shoulder function and prevent injury. We recommend seeking advice and/or treatment from the movement experts, the physical therapists of Advanced Physical Therapy and Fitness. As always, stay active and have fun!