While we prepare for kayaking with all sorts of bright and colorful gear, we should never forget to prepare our bodies!
Our muscles and tendons may be tight from being cooped up behind a desk all day, or are perhaps stiff and tired from yesterday’s paddle. Stretching these muscles will not only help prevent injury, but will also improve your paddling. A little bit of stretching goes a long way:
Reduces muscle tension
Increases blood circulation
Enhances muscle coordination.
1. Warm Up: Jog in place for 30 seconds, Jumping Jacks for 30 seconds: Just to get the blood flowing, and bodies moving.
2. Side-to-side head rolls: Seated or standing with arms at your sides, roll your head from one shoulder to the other.
3. Shoulder Stretch: In a wide stance, start by extending right arm out front your body. Grab the upper right arm with the left hand. and bring it across the front of your body until you feel a stretch. Hold for 30 seconds, and repeat with the left arm.
4. Tricep Stretch: Â Extend your right arm straight up above your head. Bend the arm at the elbow and “pat yourself on the back.” Take your left hand and grab your right elbow, pulling it toward your head until you feel a stretch. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat with the left arm.
Â 6. Low back and Hamstrings: Start in a wide stance. Inhale, and lift your arms toward the ceiling. Exhale, fold forward at the waist, and lower your arms toward the ground. They may be placed in line with your shoulders, or may grasp the big toes. Inhale, look up, and press your abdomen toward the floor, flattening your back, and deepening the stretch. Exhale, maintain your flat back and lower your torso back down toward the ground. Hold for 5 breaths- inhale and exhale. On the last exhale, bring your hands to your hips, and inhale to come back to standing (this breathe work helps prevent back injury and maintain focus on your stretching).
7. Hips/Bottom: Seated Piriformis Stretch: This one can easily be done seated on the tailgate of your truck, or on a nearby log. Cross your left ankle over your right knee. Keeping a flat back, slowly press your left knee toward the floor, and lean your body forward toward your knee. Hold for 30 seconds and switch legs.
This short but sweet routine is easy to do at the put-in, and stretches the whole body. Give it a try before your next paddle and FEEL the difference!