Whether racing, fishing or just kayaking for leisure, the paddling technique that you use can either cut short or extend your water adventure. This is because using the wrong technique may result to you being easily tired as paddling would become a strenuous task. Using the right technique though will result to more effective paddling and a more comfortable kayaking experience.
Regardless of the type of kayak you have – sit-in, sit-on-top or– using the right technique will make a difference in your performance.
So what is the right kayak paddling technique?
How you hold your paddle is very important. This has a big impact on how you will perform. Grasping it too tight will cause fatigue. To avoid this you need to have a comfortable and relaxed grip on your paddle. You can do this by slightly opening your fingers. When holding your paddle, your hands should be making an ‘O’ shape and knuckles should be pointing up.
The spacing of your hands will also make a difference. Having your hands too far from each other, while giving you more power, will tire you out easily. Having them too close on the other hand will result to weak strokes. Make sure your hands are spaced at shoulder length or a little bit more than this.
Don’t lean on the backrest and slouch forward or backward as this may limit your upper body movement. Good posture is essential so you can efficiently use your body to achieve optimum performance, so it’s important to sit up straight and relax your shoulders. For easy breathing it would also be good to open up your chest.
When it comes to the lower body, your legs should be together and your knees slightly and comfortably bent. This will allow you to have better torso rotation and efficient paddling. Bending your knees will also avoid strain on your lower back. To get extra balance, you can spread your knees and press them against the kayak.
The Push and Pull
Novice kayakers may think that the right way to paddle is like scooping up a wad of water to move forward or pulling a paddle through the water. While this works, it actually increases arm and shoulder fatigue and is not a very efficient way to paddle. The right way to do it is to think of paddling as putting your blade in the water and moving past it. While having this as your mindset, you should place the paddle near your toes, pull the paddle back to your hip, and then lift it to do another stroke on the other side.
There is also both a push and a pull motion happening when you paddle. You should push with your upper arm (in the air) and pull with your lower arm (in the water). Do this while rotating your torso, keeping the lower arm straight and slightly bending the upper arm. If you wish to increase your speed, minimise the lag between your strokes and make your strokes a continuous fluid motion. This technique is more effective than paddling faster. It will increase your speed while minimising exhaustion.
Kayaking doesn’t need to be an extremely tiring activity if you only know the proper technique in holding a paddle and in doing a paddling stroke. With the tips detailed above you’ll be on your way to a safe and enjoyable kayaking adventure with friends and family.
If you need kayak equipment and accessories, we can help you at Waves Overseas. We have single and tandem, as well as kayak paddles, seats and covers available. Aside from these we also have a range of great for any water activity. Call us now and our friendly staff will help you with your kayak needs.