Paddling fitness is very important - it helps prepare your body for what you intend to do with it! You may be ready to hop in that kayak - but before paddling - whether it's for an hour or a weekend - get a Smart Start.Condition Your Body . . .
Conditioning your body not only improves your endurance - it helps prevent injuries, sore muscles and strains. I have found that if I push myself into these routine paddling exercises consistently, I feel less fatigued while kayaking.
If you're like me, you hibernate in the winter. Around the end of January guilt sets in. I start thinking about getting the kayak out in spring. So I begin to exercise and stretch to
condition myself while I wait for the remainder of winter to pass. By Spring - I feel more fit and energetic - strong and ready.
During paddling season -
try warming up with these paddling exercises before setting out.
Now everyone has their own fitness routine. Some workout regularly at a gym, some workout at home and others are involved in various sports that keep you active. Here are the areas I focus on to prepare for a season of paddling ... these can easily be added or worked into a current routine. They don't take long but they do strengthen the areas that do the work of paddling. These exercises benefit both men and women. Please - go at your own pace.
Back Strengthening -
- Stretch right arm up while bending low at the waist
- stretch it out to the left side in front of you / you should feel the pull on that side of your lower back
- alternate with the left arm up - bend low at the waist stretching it out to the right side
- begin this with 10 repeats daily for a few weeks -
- work up to at least 30 sets gradually or increase at your own pace.
- You'll begin to feel the tone in your lower back - try these daily.
Side Curls -
Torso Twisting -
This stretches the torso - it can be done almost anywhere - standing or in a chair (at work even). Stretching your torso adds flexibility and strengthens your paddling.
- Start by bending your elbows and tuck your arms comfortably near your waist.
- simply twist your torso keeping your chest and shoulders in a line
- you'll feel it on each side of your lower back muscles and your lower shoulder blades
- alternate from side to side and do at least 20 of these a few times a day.
Shoulder Strengthening -
Arm bicycle - Just like it says - with your arms in front of you - create a bicycle pattern. This loosens the shoulders and strengthens the areas that will be worked when paddling.
- Extend your fists as far as they'll go and circling back close to your body.
- Try about six sets of 10 revolutions per set - build at your own pace.
Arm Circles -
With arms outstretched at shoulders -
- With open hands, make circles (about 12" diameter) in a forward direction
- then reverse the direction.
- Begin with sets of 10 revolutions - gradually work up to at least 2 sets of 30 revolutions forward and back.
This works the shoulder muscles and helps support the disc area of the neck and upper spine. Try these daily.
Wall Push Ups -
Stand facing an unobstructed wall -
- place your palms on the wall in front of you at shoulder height
- line up your feet about 18" - 24" back from the wall -
- adjust your palms to about 2' apart -
- then lean your face toward the wall till you nearly touch it, like a push-up.
- These are great for the shoulder/neck area also - try about 20 of these and increase at your own pace.
Shoulder Drop -
From a standing position -
- feet slightly apart -
- arms at their natural position by your sides -
- drop one shoulder to its side - extending from the waist -
- let that arm and your head flow straight down as far as they will comfortably go -
- hold for 5 seconds or so and then do the other side -
- start with no more than 5 on each side and increase at your own pace.
Forearm and Wrist Strengthening - try using 5 lb weights for these.
- With arms straight out in front of you - palms up -
- grasp a 5 lb weight in each hand -
- bend your elbows in toward your body and curl your wrists as tight as they will comfortably go -
- return your arms to a straight position and hold -
- flip the weights to the opposite side to twist and strengthen your wrists -
- aim for about 6 in a set and increase at your own pace.
Final fitness words of encouragement . . .
Going at your own pace is extremely important - only you know your limits.
As with any training - consistency is the key. You may have to fight with yourself for a few weeks until your internal manager takes over.
Find a consistent time each day or evening when you can work on these uninterrupted.
Now that's a Smart Start to paddling fitness!
Work these paddling exercises into your daily routine, use them to warm up before and you'll be fit to paddle.