Time to Make a Splash (But Not Too Big)

Well fellow paddlers its time to get the boats down and get on the water. Some have braved the cold temps and been on the water already, but for the most part, a lot of us will be getting on the water for the first time in several months. Hopefully if you’ve been working out and doing some paddling specific workouts, this transition shouldn’t be too difficult, but either way, you want to make sure that what you do these first few times on the water isn’t too much above what you can handle. You may think you can handle those 10 miles on the river, but let’s use running as an analogy. You wouldn’t run 10 miles on your first time after not having run in several months, would you? No, you’d start at maybe a few blocks then add a little each time you run until you're up to your desired goal. That’s the smart way to do it, but all too often people just jump right into something. Now sure, you may say that an easy 10 miles on the river is not as taxing as running 10 miles. Sure, I’d agree there, but the idea is that you want to ease yourself into it. It doesn’t necessarily have to be perfect workouts that progressively build to your desired time or intensity on the river, but just make sure you take the time to build up slowly.

Many of you will be going on “spring openers.” Several days of paddling coupled with going too hard in a big group and for many it’s the first time on the water in a long time - perfect time to get hurt. Now I’m not knocking the concept of the spring opener, but because of the whole group dynamic thing and the fact that we’re excited, we often end up doing too much, too soon. There you are playing on that perfect surf wave, trying new moves that you saw on the latest video over the winter and before you know it, your shot….and you still have several miles and several play spots to go and you have tomorrow to paddle. Just some things to think about. Know when to say when and ease yourself into it.

Paddling Fitness at Canoecopia 2010

Thanks to all those who attended my presentation at Canoecopia. Hopefully it spurred some thought on being in shape for paddling and what that really means. There are many aspects that determine whether one is “fit” for what they do. It’s not just about that activity specifically. You may make a good effort to get out on the water several times a week, but what if you have a flexibility issue? What if you have poor posture that crept in over the years? Do you have adequate strength to allow for proper mechanics and functioning of the shoulder? It really is every aspect that you have to think about.

That’s why I encourage everyone to learn as much as possible about the demands of the activity they want to engage in and ask that fundamental question about whether they can handle it safely and enjoyably. Like I mentioned in the presentation, the big disconnect that I see as a health care professional is that people take their bodies for granted and end up doing things above and beyond what they are capable of doing and injuries occur. Understand the demands, assess your own fitness, and from there formulate a plan to get where you need to be. It’s that simple. Then hopefully that transition to the water this spring will be easy.

A Fitness Self-Assessment: Taking Ownership in Your Body and Its Abilities.

Many of us up in the colder climes are thinking of the coming warm months (heck this winter has been bad all over the U.S.) when it'll be time to crawl out of the cave, shake the winter off and get active again. We start planning our trips and we get the equipment ready. But often the most important equipment, our bodies, is overlooked. How many of you actually think about the shape you're in? Have you thought about your body's ability to do what you ask of it? So often I see the answer to this with the injuries that I treat. We take our bodies for granted and go about what we've normally done in the past. Taking a moment though and thinking about your abilities is an important part in staying injury free and enjoying what you do. So as you approach your upcoming endeavors, put as much time (preferably more) into your bodies as you do in planning and in maintaining your gear. We are, our bodies are, snapshots of what we've been doing. The shape we all are in at this very moment, whenever you may be reading this, is an exact reflection of what we've been doing. Think about what you've been doing lately - in the last few days, the last few weeks, the last few months. Now think about what you want to be doing. Hopefully the the past few months are a reflection of what you want to be doing.

Like cars, our bodies require regular maintenance to work right. As car owners, we want to make sure they run well, and last a long time. With cars being the complex machines they are, most of us just take em into the shop and let the mechanic do the work. With our bodies though, we have to be our own mechanics. How many know how to do this maintenance though? Does it take advanced training or a degree in exercise physiology? No, but what it does take is a willingness to take ownership of our bodies and realize that we have full control of the shape we're in. With that ownership in mind though, we do need to learn as much as we can. We need to look at the activities we do and have an understanding of the physical demands those activities impose. Understanding the demands helps shape what we need to do to get ready for it. This site hopefully will serve to spark some thought regarding fitness for not only paddling, but for all your outdoor pursuits.

Paddling Fitness and the Active Lifestyle

Welcome to Paddling Fitness. This will be a site dedicated to discussions on getting in shape for canoeing and kayaking and all things related to fitness for outdoor activities. A little about myself: I am a Physical Therapist and a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the National Strength and Conditioning Association, so I bring an educated view to this topic. But its more than the education I bring to this topic, for paddling is one of my many passions and central to these passions is the need to stay in shape. I live for the outdoors and I never want to find myself in a position where I can't do what I love. Of course there will come a day when I hang up the paddle for the final time, no longer fill the bike tires, and run my last race, but I want to make sure I can do what I love for as long as I can. I treat injuries for a living and see what happens when people do things they just can't handle. I see the pain and frustration. Whats amazing though, is how little people think about fitness. We take our bodies for granted and rarely stop to ask the most fundamental question: can I physically handle what I'm about to do? Am I fit to do this activity?

I have to admit I'm not a fitness junky. I don't workout for workout's sake. I don't worry about how much I'm bench pressing (you shouldn't be doing that exercise anyway, but that's for a later post.), what my body fat percentage is or how defined my triceps are. It's not about numbers, but about ability -ability to do the things I want to do for as long as I can. Its as simple as this.

So bookmark this site and check in every now and then. Hopefully, you'll learn a thing or two about getting in shape for paddling and about fitness in general.