Just One More Confirmation – The Big Orange Man Knows his Stuff

I firmly believe that one of the key aspects of SURFSKI paddling that makes it so appealing is the low risk of injury.   There are only a select few lucky  athletes who can make it into their middle ages without some form of nagging injuries developing.  I am convinced that SURFSKI paddling done right,  has to be one of the safest sports there is and can be a great alternative for those with nagging lower body injuries.

Of course there are many out there who have very innocently developed paddling technique that can lead to injury or at least be painful if you have pre-existing injuries and ailments in your shoulders.   The great news is that with enough dedicated mental focus and investment in instruction, you can change your technique and there is a way to paddle pain free,  even if you have historically struggled with shoulder injuries.

The style of paddling taught by Oscar Chalupsky will ensure that you protect your shoulders.  I am absolutely convinced of this and have adjusted my technique accordingly and follow Oscar’s lead in everything I write and teach as well.  For those of you who need a reminder, the key points are:

  1. Keep your elbows down and in
  2. Exit earlier than you think, and do so by lifting your hand, while keeping your elbow down
  3. Hand above elbow / Elbow below shoulder
  4. Pull with a straight arm and hip rotation driven by the legs
  5. Top hand should stay relatively passive

I was elated and it truly made my day, when I recently received the e-mail below from a paddler in Chicago who has been reading my blogs.  I can go on and on,  but I think the e-mail quoted below really says it all:

“Just wanted to share some thoughts on my paddling experience this afternoon. Unfortunately, last week I dislocated my shoulder while doing some Russian Twists with a medicine ball while seated on a Swiss stability ball – very painful.  I thought my spring paddling and maybe the immersion clinic may be in jeopardy. Much discomfort just lifting my hand over my head.  But today was just too beautiful not to paddle and thought I would just take it easy and see what happens.  Had to get the wife to help me lift the ski on top of my truck.  A lot of front shoulder discomfort starting out but I focused on lower rib rotation, leg drive, pulling with a straight arm, and keeping my elbows lower (as you describe on your blog).  I had gone to a Brent Reitz clinic about 10 years ago and have his forward stroke video – he talks about “pushing with a bent elbow” and the “chicken wing thing” – and that’s how I typically paddle. But I found out today that by focusing on the catch, planting, and pulling the blade and having my top hand just passively moving forward – that there was NO pressure on my front shoulder muscles!  No discomfort at all!  I was able to focus on planting, leg drive, pulling, and lower rib rotation much better – because if I didn’t – and started pushing with top hand elevated – my shoulder would start talking! Anyway – maybe there is a silver lining to my injury – better technique.  Still had to get my wife to help me unload though .   Thanks again,
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