Thursday, August 09, 2007

 

Kayakers need to operate upper body and lower body independently

Important technique for intermediate-level kayak paddling in whitewater rivers



Beginning kayakers


Beginning kayakers are typically focused on using their arms, shoulders and torso to power their paddles. Many people kayak on class II whitewater rivers using just their upper body muscle strength to power their paddles. Some kayakers even advance to class III whitewater rivers using this strong arm style of paddling. Even the strongest person will eventually find their kayaking performance limited by this style of paddling. Paddling with brute force also makes our bodies locked up stiff with muscle tension and may result in tipping over frequently when the whitewater starts to bounce us around.



Intermediate kayakers


Kayakers make a leap in performance when they realize the power of steering their boats with their knees and hips. Using these lower body muscles to control the left-to-right rotation of the kayak makes the boat into a giant rudder helping to steer in the desired direction. This frees the paddle and the upper body muscles to focus more on providing propulsion. Kayakers who can simultaneously control the paddle with their upper bodies and control the boat with their lower bodies get a big performance advantage. This requires that we unlock our midsections to allow upper body and lower body muscles to work separately, independently and simultaneously.



More about: Whitewater Kayaking Techniques.

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