The sport of kayak touring is an excellent form of exercise. The disciplines it develops are strength, endurance, flexibility and balance. A great cardiovascular workout, which can aid in strengthening the heart and increasing blood flow, it also can help keep the body tone and fit while enjoying nature and the great outdoors.
But, like any other sport, there are precautions. Rotator cuff damage, tendonitis and carpel tunnel syndrome are several injuries that, if not treated and re-habilitation done, can become much worse when undertaking a sport that will require repeated motion over an extended period of time.
It is also a smart idea to begin some form of strength training as a supplement to your kayaking. This will aid in several ways:
- Strength training helps to build the muscle tissues needed to give you more power in your strokes.
- It helps to build endurance for those long trips.
- Strength training also aids in developing muscle coordination, balance and "body awareness".
All of these points are needed to stay in control of your kayak while paddling in any conditions but it's the "body awareness" which is the most important.
"Body awareness" just means that you know what your body is doing at all times. Once you can "feel" which muscle groups are being used for a specific stroke, you can call those muscles into action for better coordination through out the maneuver.
If you are like me, you enjoy taking the sport to the extreme, pushing the limits of the body and mind to go places and experience conditions that most people would not dare to venture into. But, doing this also takes it's toll and there is a price to pay. That price is staying fit and strength training is at the top of my list.
After suffering a dislocated shoulder while surfing in five to seven foot breakers, I realized just how important it was for me to keep my form and strength while kayaking. In my case I was lucky. The shoulder training I had been doing that summer, prior to my injury, kept the trauma from being much worse and made for a faster recovery.
Let's keep this from happening to you! In the following months, we'll show you some simple exercises here to get you (or keep you) in top kayaking shape!
If you are interested in putting together a personal workout, we would be happy to put one together for you. Just email us with your information and training goals.
Tony Kramer is the founder of The Sea Kayaker which is a kayak-touring outfitter serving Atlanta, Georgia and Eastern Shore of the Mobile Bay area. They offer scheduled and custom, guided, sea kayak tours and instruction.
He is also known for his work with Walter Muellenhagen on their "How To" home improvement series: "Hands On" and "Remodeling and Decorating Today." Both shows air on HGTV and DIY. Tony takes this same "How To" approach to his kayak instruction and tours. As an instructor, his experience is based on over seventeen years of open ocean touring and BCU training.