1) Make sure you aren’t “white knuckling” your paddle.

Think of your hands basically as “hooks”. They are simply there as a connection point between your paddle and your body throughout your paddle stroke. Grasping your paddle too tightly puts unnecessary pressure in your forearms, and thus your wrists and elbows.

As you hold the shaft with your bottom hand, loosen your death grip by keeping your thumb and little finger relaxed. In the same regard, keep your top hand fingers loose around the top grip.

2) Rotate your torso and increase your reach.

As your paddle enters the water (the catch phase of the stroke) make sure to to eliminate “arm paddling”. Rotating your torso and stacking your shoulders as you initiate your stroke promotes the engagement of the larger, more powerful muscles of your hips and core to power through the water.

This produces a more efficient stroke by allowing your bigger muscles to do the majority of the work, instead of the smaller muscles of the arms. If you do not rotate, and/or reach too far forward when paddling, you are most likely relying solely on your arm muscles, which can fatigue you quickly and making you more susceptible to injury.

3) Equalize the push and pull of your stroke.

As your paddle enters the water, push with the top hand as hard as you are pulling with the bottom arm (technically your lats and obliques). First time paddlers tend to think they should pull the paddle towards THEM, however you should actually pull YOU to the paddle. Plant the paddle firmly in the catch phase using the rotation of your hips to power you towards the paddle. This helps to share the load of the work on each side of the body.

4) Find your flow.

There should be no beginning or end to your stroke. Find continuous fluidity as you paddle. The paddle stroke can be technical, but once mastered, finding fluid movement is key. Taking a lesson from an experienced instructor can help you nail down an efficient stroke.

5) Warm up prior to each paddle session.

As with all activity, it’s important to warm up the muscles used. You can start by lightly paddling 5-10 minutes before maximizing your effort.

Try out these tips to keep your elbows and wrists in tip top paddling shape!

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Written by: Leah Seacrest of Seacrestfitnesscompany.com