Paddling Basics: Stay Dry and Injury-Free on the Water

Tuesday, Jun. 19, 2018

Canada is home to some of the most stunningly beautiful interconnected waterways the world has to offer. Canoeing, kayaking, and the increasingly popular stand up paddleboarding (SUP) are some of best the ways to get outside and explore these rivers, lakes, and oceans.

These paddling sports are low-impact activities that can improve your overall strength and fitness. They can be done as a hobby, a competitive sport, or a fun activity while on holiday. Paddling can be peaceful or exhilarating, depending on where and how you do it.

Regardless of your preferred method, location, or duration of paddling, these seven tips can help you stay safe and injury-free.

Get a lesson

Paddling isn’t rocket science, but you’ll waste a lot less time and learn how to recover from a capsize. Check your local area for paddling lessons, they’re usually offered at a reasonable rate.

Dress for the water, not the weather

If you fall in the water (which isn’t unlikely) you’ll be glad you prepared for the cold water temperatures, especially in our Canadian climate, no matter the season!

Choose the right boat

Kayaks, canoes, and stand up paddleboards come in a variety of shapes and sizes. The right one for you depends on your skill level, the body of water you plan to paddle, and the nature of use (leisure vs competition). Choose wisely.

Always wear a buoyancy aide

There are many light-weight personal floatation devices available that will not restrict movement. No matter how strong of a swimmer you may be, always be prepared.

Sit/Stand properly on your kayak/canoe/SUP

Proper weight distribution will reduce the risk of a capsize and allow for easier paddling, saving you from injury.

Hold the paddle the correct way

  • Canoe: Hold the paddle with your hands shoulder-width apart and stroke as close to the center line of the canoe as possible to ensure you travel in a straight line.
  • Kayak: Hold the paddle with your hands just wider than your shoulders. The concave part of each blade should be facing you.
  • SUP: Hold so the blade slopes away from you. If standing with your arm stretched overhead, a SUP paddle should be long enough to reach the paddler’s fingertips when resting on the ground.

Use safe lifting/carrying practices when transporting your boat

Minimize injury by parking as close to the water as possible to limit carrying distance, and lift with your legs! Don’t be afraid to ask someone to help if needed.

Following these tips will help you make the most of your time on the water and avoid injury. Look back fondly on your aquatic adventures without worrying about your sore muscles! However, if you still managed to hurt yourself, make sure to head to your local Lifemark clinic for some physiotherapy or massage.