Core training for Paddlers

Nov 8, 2013

Photo courtesy of Eric Naslund. Photo courtesy of Eric Naslund.

First of all, what is the ‘core’? Your core is everything from your neck to your hip flexors minus your appendages ~ your arms and legs. With that being said, core training is training everything that connects your arms, legs, neck, and head. Power is generated from the core and distributed through the body to perform the movements we need.  Some perfect examples of core power can be found in baseball players up to bat, boxers, golfers, etc.  These athletes rely on their core to deliver powerful movements. Kayaking is another sport relying on taking power from the core to deliver effective strokes and techniques. Here are some on-river training tips for using the core (torso rotation), which I like to introduce to my students:

  • “Frankenstein” (‘cuz this is what Frankenstein would look like if he paddled) – Paddling without bending the elbow.  Once in awhile, look down at your PFD to see if it’s moving . . . it should be!  Here is how Anna Levesque explains it:
“Start by holding your paddle out in front of you, straighten your arms and lock your elbows. From here take short strokes while keeping your arms totally straight. If you keep your arms straight you’ll notice that you have to rotate your torso in order to take a stroke. If you don’t feel it in your torso pay attention to your arms. You’re probably bending them and pulling instead of keeping them straight and rotating. Once you get the hang of paddling with straight arms using your torso you can simply relax your arms, keep the same movement through the upper body and you’ll have a great forward stroke!” ~ Anna Levesque
  • “Paddle Splash” – Twist your torso and set your paddle up as if you were setting up for an on or off-side roll (but don’t lean forward).  Then scoop some water up with the front blade and follow through with the back blade to ‘splash’ (smack) the water.  You should concentrate on powerful torso rotation during your set-up, but especially through your ‘follow through movement’.  Push your feet into your bulkhead to assist in a powerful ‘follow through’.  Repeat 10 times on each side before you start paddling downriver.  This is also a really fun way to splash your friends.
Here are some off-water core training tips and exercises:
  • roman chairKnee lifts using the Roman Chair – This exercises is perfect for training your core for powerful ‘boofing’.
  • Exercise ball oblique crunches – This exercise strengthens the obliques to help with the roll, as it strengthens the muscles important for a powerful hip snap.
  • side
    • Back extensions – “core work” isn’t just your abdominals.  Make sure you balance your core training and you will be even more powerful and decrease your risk of injury from muscle imbalances.
    • Side stretch – make sure you work on your flexibility through the obliques.  The more flexible you are in the abdominal area and back, the more torso rotation you will have.  The more torso rotation you have, the more power you will have in each stroke AND the better your roll will be.
    • sidestretch
    • Remember:  You will NEVER be as strong as you COULD be without proper strengthening of your core.  In every activity we do in life, it starts at the CORE.  There are many exercises you can do.  These are just a few.  Visit my Facebook Page ~ Fitness and Sport Evolution if you'd like to connect about some specific training exercises for YOU.

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