Last year, my wife and I kayaked to the tip of Point Reyes, a peninsula just north of San Francisco, formed by the San Andreas Fault, which pushed parts of California into the ocean.
Thirty minutes after we left, just beside my bow, water exploded and what looked like a gray school bus passed under us. Gray whale mothers and calves took a rare break from their trip to the north and ate snacks.
They wandered, turned to our boats and even blew on us (the whale’s breath is uncomfortable). Motorcraft often scares animals, but our two little boats seemed to blend in with the surroundings.
It was just one of the 100 transcendental nature experiences I had in kayaking, all just a few miles away from the dock. And while I was tired by the end of the three-mile journey, I didn’t have to worry about tiredness or injury. Not because I was in good shape, but because I knew that my paddling technique was correct and that it was kind to my muscles and joints.
Kayak sales exploded Thanks to the pandemic for the past few years. Many of these boats can now be stolen on Craigslist and other sites. Users find kayaking more difficult or harder than expected.
But it doesn’t have to be. By changing just a few elements of your stroke, you can paddle more, avoid injuries and turn your day on the water into a life-changing adventure.
Besides whale watching, there are several reasons to try kayaking. For one thing, it’s a good low-impact aerobic exercise for the elderly and those who want to ease their fitness.
François Billow, a professor of exercise physiology at Laval University in Quebec and a former chief physiologist for the Canadian National Kayak Team, said it was because it was not involved in the larger muscles of the body, such as the thighs and buttocks. The larger the muscle, the more oxygen it needs. So, for example, if you run hard, you will be out of breath.
Second, he said it was one of the few outdoor exercises that made it work on the upper body, especially the chest, back and core, with the abdominal muscles. Other deeper muscles Around the central part where it is difficult to train outside the gym. Dr. Billow said he considers paddling to be a cycling and running companion.
“For those who just run and cycle, they tend to lack a lot of muscle mass in their upper body,” said Dr. Billow. “Kayaking provides balance.”
But that doesn’t mean you need to have big arm and back muscles to get started.
“I think most people have to jump into a kayak and use their arms right away. They have to be super strong and aggressively grab water,” paddling for five years. Alicia Jones, an artist and graphic designer in New York who started, said. Even though she had a shoulder injury before. However, she said, “After learning the technique, it became a full-body training... “
Embrace the pizza box.
The first thing to understand about proper kayaking techniques is that the movement is not a pull, but a twist.
“Your arms aren’t as strong as many other muscles in your body,” said Greg Burton, an Olympic kayak gold medalist and founder of Epic kayaks. “The more you can bring your whole body into a stroke, the faster you go.”
Before boarding the boat, stand up and push the paddle forward with both hands, slightly wider than your shoulders and straighten your elbows like a mummy or zombie. Imagine a square space between your arms, chest and paddles as a pizza box. Pretend to be a paddle, but don’t break the pizza box.
The important thing is to keep your elbows relatively straight and rotate them from your torso. When the elbow bends, the arm takes over, causing fatigue and shoulder pain. Simply stand next to the boat and rotate your hips left and right to rock the life jacket zipper back and forth. This is the move you want.
Let’s get on the boat and hit the water. As a veteran instructor at the Wilderness School NOLS, it is important for the boat to be in good shape.
If you’re worried about falling, spend your time comfortably in the shallows (or pool) to see how much you can twist and wiggle in the boat. The fear of flipping cripples your paddling technique. If you have a flat-bottomed sit-on-top or recreational kayak with a wide cockpit that allows you to stick out your knees, you’ll be amazed at how difficult it is to turn it over.
If you’re still worried about tips, sign up for an introductory kayak course and learn self-rescue.
A twist is everything.
Time to paddle. Set up in the same pizza box position, place the paddle in front of you, and make your chest height and hands slightly wider than your shoulders. Next to the hull of the boat, start by slicing the paddle into water with your feet. Do not pull towards yourself, keep your elbows straight, twist your torso so that the paddle slides along the boat until it is about the same as your butt, then remove it.
“One of the first things I learned was torso rotation. That phrase remains in my brain forever,” said Jones, who is currently teaching at the Brooklyn Bridge Park Paddling Club. .. “If you forget something else in your life, you will never forget the rotation of your torso.”
This is the secret, the difference between frustrated fatigue and a comfortable paddle. Hold the paddle in your arm and use the core to move it. If you keep your elbows relatively straight, you should feel your stomach pulled on both sides as you twist.
It is helpful to engage your feet. According to Burton, if you’re rowing on the right side, press the pegs or footrests with your right foot to secure the core and maintain your posture.
“I want to push the same side as I’m paddling,” he added. “It’s actually spinning from the waist, not from the waist up... “
Don’t overgrip the paddle, Petzold said. This is about position, not force. In fact, she doesn’t hold it at all, but like a lobster’s nail, she draws a circle with her thumb and index finger.
“There’s a paddle there, and when I cross, I keep my other fingers loose with the paddle,” she said, with the right technique for beginners to paddle 45 miles a day. He added that he saw.
It’s a strange sensation, twisting the torso while looking straight ahead. Don’t expect to get it completely from the beginning. Try to find the rhythm. Once you get the hang of it, one stroke will flow into the next. As you master your strokes, you’ll find that your arms don’t get tired quickly. You will also feel burns on the core.
Time to turn the table.
Turning the kayak requires not only rowing on one side repeatedly, but another movement to sweep from the front to the back of the boat. I feel my body twisted and I push it with my feet to engage the core, so I try a rotary stroke, usually called a sweep stroke, to actually fix the torso.
Start again from the right side. Twist your torso to the left and stretch your legs back to the right paddle blade. Next, sweep the paddle a lot. This time, we will sweep to the back of the boat. Hold the pizza box in place and feel the twist in your stomach.
Look at the right paddle blade like a hawk from the beginning to the end of the stroke.To do this, you need to do the following: Twist the whole body.. Use this stroke to steer during forward strokes, and sometimes during forward strokes, to maintain course.
Lowering these strokes and pulling in the core, Dr. Billow recommended some simple intervals to be stronger. After warming up, paddle violently for 5 minutes and rest at a slow pace for 3 minutes. Repeat this 3-4 times.
If you get tired, expect your technique to flag and fall back to pulling your arms and shoulders. Dr. Billow said that good techniques can protect you from joint injuries, so think realistically about how far you want to go.
If done correctly, kayaking can take you farther than you can imagine. It will take you to the rock garden through a sea cave and a playful gray whale calf. Surf the swelling waves of Alaska’s coves or gently break the perfect Baja morning glass surface. Or you can paddle in the middle of the city.
“Have you ever thought about the fact that you can kayak on the East River or the Hudson River?” Jones said. “When people hear about it, they want to see it, they want to experience it.”