While the weather is fine and the water warm, why not try going out for a paddle before the winter chill sets in? Paddling sports include, stand up paddle boarding, canoeing, kayaking, surf ski, rowing and dragon boating. Before starting a new activity it is worth considering a few key points to prevent the onset of an injury.
There are 2 main types of injuries acute and overuse. Acute injuries usually involve a high speed, load or impact which are not as common in paddling sports. Overuse injuries however, are quite common in paddling sports due to the nature of the activity, which requires the athlete to perform the same stroke or paddling motion over and over again. Over the course of a race or a training session you may be performing up to hundreds or thousands of strokes at a time. The issue with this is that if there is a minor problem at a joint including tightness, stiffness or weakness this can add up over the session and result in a bigger issue if the incorrect action or strain at a joint is repeated stroke after stroke. This may also cause compensatory movements at another joint down the kinetic chain. For example if your upper back is stiff and not allowing you to rotate sufficiently at the beginning of the stroke, the shoulder or lower back may compensate by providing the extra rotation needed. If this occurs over a couple of strokes it is unlikely to cause an issue, but over time this may turn into a minor ache or tightness which if not addressed early could turn into a more significant overuse injury resulting in more time off the water.
Please read the facts below to give you a basic idea of how to prevent an overuse injury whilst paddling, and when to come in and see your physio.
The most common injury sites that physios see with paddling sports include:
– Upper Back
– Lower Back
Risk factors for paddling injuries include:
– Incorrect technique e.g. gripping the paddle too hard, incorrect hand placement on the paddle, insufficient use of the legs and too much emphasis on the arms during the pulling phase of the stroke.
– Weak core
– Poor posture
– Asymmetry from left to right in terms of back rotation or arm/leg strength and flexibiilty
Basic tips to prevent a paddling injury:
– Use a loose, comfortable grip on the paddle
– Be sure to turn your core on to support your back when lifting the craft in/out of the water. If there is someone else with you get them to give you a hand
– Book in with a paddling instructor for a technique lesson before starting especially if you are a beginner
– Ensure you have a good stretching routine especially for the back and legs as these areas can get very tight with paddling
– Ensure you are doing a variety of forms of exercise as too much of any one activity may result in an overuse injury
Book in to see a physio if your ache/tightness is not getting better after a couple of days, before it turns into a bigger problem.
Your physio will:
– Assess the site of injury
– Assess the available movement and strength at the affected areas
– Have a look at your technique and give you pointers on how to correct any errors
– Manual therapy to relax overactive muscles
– Set you up a strength/stretching program where appropriate
– Teach you a Core strength program to improve your overall posture and stability
With 8 years of rowing experience (still water and surf boat) I can tell you there is no better way to wake up then being on the water as the sun rises. Paddling sports provide a great all body work out without the impact loading and jarring that you get with running and most land based sports. If you have any questions regarding paddling or a paddling injury please book in to see Sophie.