Can You Kayak With a Torn Rotator Cuff?
Can You Kayak With a Torn Rotator Cuff

Are you aware that the average newbie kayaker travels approximately 3 miles per hour and can shoot up to 1,000 strokes per mile? When you think about that point, it only makes sense that you may feel some muscle soreness at the end of the day.

Kayaking is an adequate workout for your upper back, arms, and shoulders. After you learn the right approach, you can hope to profit from every stroke of your paddle. With that in mind, you need to know that paddling a kayak does arrive with some risks. 

Shoulder pressures and sprains are some of the most typical injuries among kayakers. Learning more about why and how they occur gives you an advantage for keeping your body in top shape.

In more extreme cases, 4 to 6 months can pass until full healing. Still, here are some tips on what to do. First, keep the paddle upright and close to the side of the kayak. Secondly, long paddle strokes are useful – but don’t lean too far forward. Also, engage your torso in the paddling.

Table of Contents

The Anatomy of the Shoulders

Shoulders consist of an intricate set of muscles, bones, and ligaments that all work jointly to help you move with ease. Your upper arm bone is named the humerus. This bone suits into a round joint within the shoulder edge that is named a glenoid cavity. Surrounding this joint is a web of muscles and ligaments that is the rotator cuff.

Harms to this place tend to happen when too much strain is set upon the bone and muscle structure.

Kayakers can readily injure their shoulders by exceeding their arms to the pinpoint that the rotator cuff muscles and ligaments get pushed outside their scope of motion. This often occurs when your arm goes behind your shoulders. Or even when you untangle your arm while using too much force.

You can also damage the upper part of your shoulder around the clavicle, which is your collarbone. Luckily, collarbone ruptures are not so common. Moreover, they are likely only to occur if you collide with an object on your route like a large rock.

Detour Shoulder Pain While Kayaking

The conclusions you make before, during, and after your kayaking journey make a huge distinction in how nicely your shoulders feel afterward.

#1 Stretch Before and After Your Journeys

Stretching allows for keeping the muscles and ligaments in the upper body loose. There are 2 separate types of stretches.

Static stretches are ones that affect holding your body in one place for a distinct period of time. Holding these sweeps for 30 seconds to a few minutes is one of the best things you can do to improve your degree of motion.

Dynamic stretches affect movement. Shoulder rolls are a sample of a dynamic stretch that you can do to help ease up your joints. Plan to spend approximately 5 to 10 minutes extending your upper back, arms, and shoulders before you jump in the boat. After, perform the ritual again when you get back on land.

Tip: Is white water rafting bad for your back? Sad but true, so many back injuries can be a result of this sport.

#2 Perform Strengthening Exercises

Powerful muscles deliver strength to the shoulder joint and help to lower the exertion that you must employ to paddle your kayak. Standard pull-ups and pushups are useful for working all the muscles in the upper body.

Many kayakers also toss opposition bands in their pack for on-the-go upper body workouts that help to enhance their muscle strength. Be sure to incorporate core strengthening workouts in your plans. Planks, crunches, and peak climbers help keep your core powerful and flexible so that you can utilize them to help with paddling.

Tip: If you want to find out more about kayaking, read our guide about sitting in a white water kayak.

#3 Understand Your Limits

Many harms occur when an individual force themselves too far or winds up in unfortunate water conditions. Do your due diligence and study the course and water requirements for where you plan to kayak. If you are preparing to go sea or whitewater kayaking, check your plans for bracing.

Maintaining proper strategies for bracing fresh in your mind helps you to bypass panicking and falling out of form if you start to capsize.

Beginning your trip in more casual water can also give your shoulders time to warm up before you begin severe paddling. Even paddling in calm water can put a strain on your shoulders if you go too long. Newbies should seek to build up to longer kayaking journeys.

Can You Kayak With a Torn Rotator Cuff

#4 Use the Right Technique

Learning the correct way to sit in your kayak and keep your body while paddling makes it much easier to evade accidental injuries. Newbie kayakers are usually introduced to the paddler’s box. Remaining within the imaginary lines of the box helps to stop shoulder injuries.

The paddler’s box is made by picturing lines. They run from where your hands relax on the paddles in front of you and up to the shoulders.

An easy way to stay within the paddler’s box is to recall never to let your hands rise beyond the lines formed by your shoulders. Ultimately, you can move your arms up and down within the box. Yet, you want to sidestep going beyond the range, by all means.

If you ought to paddle behind you, move your torso so that your arm never goes after your shoulders. Shoulder hurts also manage to happen when kayakers try to stop or heal from capsizing or rolling their boat.

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#5 Loading and Unloading Your Kayak

Paddling isn’t the only way you can create shoulder issues from kayaking. Some hurts happen when kayakers attempt to raise their kayak onto or off of their vehicle.

If you haul your kayak on top of your car, then be alert lifting it onto the rack. If feasible, have someone assist you or utilize a kayak cart. Remember to raise it using your legs and not with your back. Selecting a lighter-weight kayak is likewise safer when you need to raise it alone.

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Typical Kinds of Shoulder Injuries

Notably, the rotator cuff is the part of the shoulder most prone to paddling injuries. Rotator cuff harm is set from one to three, looking at the level of damage.

A grade one rotator cuff harm entangles stretching and tiny tearing of the muscle as well as the tendon fibers. A grade three strain affects more than 90% of the fiber torn, by all means. Softer rotator cuff harms are treated with non-surgical practices such as using ice and letting the muscle rest. Periodically, steroid injections or anti-inflammatory medicines are used to reduce pain and swelling.

Extreme rotator cuff injuries occasionally need surgery to repair torn muscle fibers. Other kinds of shoulder injuries incorporate the following:

  • dislocations
  • impingement
  • tendinitis
  • bursitis

How Does the Rotator Cuff Tear?

The rotator cuff keeps the humeral head pressed into the glenoid socket when you move your shoulders. If the humeral head drops out of the glenoid socket, it will elevate and hit underneath the acromion (the acromion is the outside part of the scapula).

The result will be impingement, which can lead to bursitis (inflammation in the bursa) and tendinitis (inflammation in the tendon). This is such a painful experience.

Athletes who play sports like basketball, volleyball, or handball are at a higher risk of sustaining a rotator cuff tear. These injuries can occur from a sudden fall on the shoulder or from a collision with another player. It can also happen during repetitive movements above the head.

For example, when throwing a ball or in athletics, when throwing a discus, javelin, or shot put. Do the following test to confirm if the rotator cuff is torn:

  • Sit in a chair and relax.
  • Bend your elbow for exactly 90 degrees.
  • Tuck your elbow into your side.
  • Have someone push your hand toward your stomach as you try to push it out.

A torn rotator cuff can weaken your shoulder. Your daily activities, such as brushing your hair or getting dressed, may become difficult to perform. The pain can be strong even when you don’t move your arms.

Note: Have you ever stopped to wonder what side of the river you kayak in the UK? We have a full article about this topic that you may want to check out!

So, Can You Kayak With a Torn Rotator Cuff?

If you have a mild rotator cuff tear, it will heal within a month. In more severe cases, 4 to 6 months can pass until full recovery. But if this injury happened during your practicing kayak, here are some tips on what to do:
  • Keep the paddle vertical and close to the side of the kayak.
  • Long paddle strokes are effective – but don’t lean too far forward.
  • Keep your hands in your line of sight.
  • Engage your torso in the paddling.

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