As more kayaks, both the recreational and the fishing varieties, become commonplace as part of one’s camping gear, the more it will help to understand and practice proper paddling posture. Even if you’re only an occasionally paddler and don’t care to hone your kayaking skills, knowing how to sit in your boat can make a difference in the amount of energy you expend to move yourself along the waterways.
A kayak moves across the water through the transfer of force from the paddle blade, up the shaft and into the paddler. Because the paddler is inside a movable, floating vehicle, that energy propels the craft – and the passenger – forward.
It follows, therefore, that the more “attachment” points within that craft, the more effective each paddle stroke will be and the less stress it will put on any one part of the paddler’s body where it comes in contact with the boat.
In other words, if you are sitting casually in your boat and the only point of contact is your butt and lower back, then those two body sections will bear the burden of transferring all that force out to the boat. That can take its toll. Couple that with improper paddling using only your arms instead of a more efficient torso twist, and a kayaker can become worn out quickly, whether from an extended casual paddle or a short, brisk sequence of power strokes.
If, however, your posture is such that you are in controlled contact with your boat through your knees against braces in your cockpit and/or via firm pedals at your feet, that force is then spread out along a broader range of transfer points easing the stress on any one part of your body.
Besides having foot and knee braces, an adjustable seat bottom and back that provide adequate support also helps ease long-term paddling fatigue.
If you’re out for just a leisurely paddle around the pond or a casual float down a gentle stream, it’s probably not that critical to assume the proper position. But if looking to gain as much power from the paddle as possible – over a longer period and with less fatigue or stress – having the right posture can go a long way to making your kayaking experience more enjoyable.
Be Safe; Have fun out there!
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