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.