Dan: dealing with paddling pain and injury

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The Yukon River Quest is going to be longest I’ve ever paddled. Our training paddles are to get us ready and to learn what we need to do. An injured arm from our biggest paddle was feedback that I’m not getting it right. I’ve been working on finding how to get better so I can do the race.

I’ve been having a few weeks off paddling – giving my arm time to recover. A physio probed and ultra-sounded and luckily couldn’t find any lasting damage. They did see a whole bucket of postural fails that likely cause the paddling pain and the arm injury. I’ve got plenty of exercises to help me grow strength and awareness – stop using the arms and the shoulder and use my core.

We also worked to build me a footrest that will fit in the boat. One that we can rebuild in the boat we will do the race in.

For those not in the know, if you want to paddle far or fast you need to be using not just your core muscles in your tummy and your back, you also need to find ways to use your whole body, getting your legs and bum also doing the work. For that to happen I need something for my feet to push against.

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Our first opportunity was at the start of training paddle on the Wye. Sarah had got some closed cell foam and I found some cardboard tubing and brought some some tools. The foam is what I’ll push against with my feel; the cardboard will support and keep the foam in place.

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Building went quite easily. The foam was cut with a bread knife, the cardboard with my folding wood saw. Building a joint was an experiment that seemed to work well.

Of course the cardboard tube isn’t ideal – its a prototype at best – but it seems to keep on working, until it rains anyway. Next step will be to replace it with PVC drain pipe and see If that is a more waterproof solution – I’ll have to make sure the Pipe edges don’t cut through the foam, or the boat though!

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It worked really well in our last 2 paddles, power transfer is super. I need to learn another paddling technique and to get my posture right when driving from my feet, but its been great.

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