Dodgy elbow, paddling technique & shafts

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steve t
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Dodgy elbow, paddling technique & shafts

Post by steve t »

Having suffered from what I understood to be “a sore elbow” for two/three months I have finally seen a doctor who tells me I actually have lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow) – ie inflammation of the tendon/bone interface on the outside of the elbow.

I don’t paddle at a high level (grade 3, occasionally 4) but paddle often enough for it to get on my nerves.

I’ve been prescribed anti-inflammatories, and I’ll lay off the harder/longer paddles for a few weeks, but I wonder if anyone out there has any more advice.

In particular, is there anything in my paddling technique I could look at changing, or would a larger/smaller diameter paddle shaft help?

Cranked shafts look promising, but I currently use a ~£85 Lendal Mania and wasn’t planning to spend £200+ on a paddle any time soon (or at all). I would if I had to, but are there any cheaper cranked paddles for non-gnarly paddlers? Would they help this problem anyway?

Advice from anyone with any experience would be greatly appreciated.



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Dave T
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Re: Dodgy elbow, paddling technique & shafts

Post by Dave T »

steve t wrote: Cranked shafts look promising, but I currently use a ~£85 Lendal Mania and wasn’t planning to spend £200+ on a paddle any time soon (or at all). I would if I had to, but are there any cheaper cranked paddles for non-gnarly paddlers? Would they help this problem anyway?
Cranks are designed to decrease strain on your wrists, not sure if they would help your elbow.

There is an paragraph on cranks here.

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Post by GaryM »

A few years ago I had a similar problem, and by chance, there was an advertisment in Canoe Focus for this elbow support. As I had tried everything else I shelled out and got one, and to my relief it really worked, and I was able to get out paddling again, I even managed to do 5 days at Plas y Brenin while using it, without it being troublesome.
I would highly recommend you try this, especially as it was developed by a paddler for paddlers.

Gary Mascall

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Chris C
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Post by Chris C »

Robson cranks are cheaper around £170
[/url] ... _ID=62[url]

or tywarps are a £10 cheaper, If you are having joint trouble it may be worth trying a smaller blade aswell, as they put less stress on your body.[/url]

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Post by buck197 »

I have had a similar problem and I have successfully used the supports at the link. They have been brilliant and the condition has almost gone away as I only get slight twinges. If doing a longer paddle then I will wear them as a precaution.

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Post by me? »

If you really want a set of cranks cheap:

you can buy the shaft for aropund £50 from peak uk (lendal may be cheaper).

Use a heat gun to melt the glue holding your maina blades to the shaft.

Give everything a rub with some sand paper, and glue your current blades on to the cranked shaft using araldyte.

then you get cranks for ~£50, but you lose your current paddles...


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Post by mharrall »

Are you using a full carbon shaft? I had a slightly dodgy elbow a few years back and switched to a paddle with a fiberglass shaft for a while and the problem went away.


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Post by Westy »

Steve, I suffered the same thing last year just before I went to the French Alps. It seemed ok when I paddled, but was very sore afterwards. I tried a combination of things, so not sure which thing or things actually made a difference, but here goes:

1/ Used a support like the one Gary suggests. A friend who is a physio suggested it. To paraphrase, tennis elbow is inflammation of where the tendons all meet on the side of the elbow. These supports serve to bring everything together slightly lower down, so moving the pressure point. Not very well explained, but I'm not a physio! The supports seem good anyway!
2/ Adopted a stretch suggested by someone on this forum (try a search, might even have been my thread!). Hold your arm horizontally in front of you, arm bent inwards, hand then bent in towards you with fingers vertical. Extend the arm so that it is straight with hand still at 90 degrees. With arm straight pull hand in towards you. You should feel it pull around the elbow.
3/ Also wore a standard neoprene elbow support whilst paddling.
4/ Bought a magnetic wrist band.

I reckon that the support suggested by Gary did most early on the relieve the pressure point and so give that area time to heal. I stopped wearing it after a couple of weeks. I continued the stretches, and still do them now if it feels a bit tight (although my children take the mickey, as I apparently look like an opera singer). Standard elbow support was helpful early on whilst paddling. Not sure about the magnetic bracelet, but I was desperate at the time, and leave it in my van for homeward journies where my elbow hurts a bit!

Cranked shafts? I had started using them before my elbow played up, but they certainly feel kinder to my arms in general, especially my wrists. I use Werner Sidekicks. I've been really impressed with them, and I think my glass ones were less than £200. I don't think the cranks will alleviate your tennis elbow, but well worth looking into. Blade size may be an issue.

Hope this helps.


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steve t
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Post by steve t »

Thanks for all the advice

I'll look at getting a shaft and building a paddle as a low cost alternative (I don't really want to spend the dosh if I don't know it will work)

A brace seems like a good idea, though the GP didn't know much about it. Anybody tried one of these: ... itis-clasp

which seem to be designed for this problem? There doesn't seem to be much to it, and the JacStrap seems to be like this but with more support above the elbow also. I've tried tubigrip with no obvious improvement.



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Post by ChrisBainbridge »

Hi, tennis elbow is a real pain in the arm! The brace is a very good idea. You need to take some time to work out how to fit it and where to fit it. The bit on the forearm just below the painful area is the important part. Moving this by 1/2cm will make all the difference between worthwhile and waste of money.

tennis elbow is a self limiting conditon. By that I mean it will get better on its own. Recent work confirms the view that steroid injections are very effective in the short term but at a year you will be worse off than the person who did not have the steroid. (I can send you the article if you want!) Short term gain - long term pain.
Physiotherapy to show you stretching exercises can be very helpful as most of the pain sems to come from spasm in the muscle.

Average duration of pain is 1 year. Do wear the splint whilst paddling


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Post by Old Coach »

Been thinking about this since I read your post last night.

I had tennis elbow a number of years ago and pooled wisdom seemed to be that it was caused by the action of straightening the arm with too much of a snap. It may be that although paddling irritates the condition it may not be causing it. In my case I found eventually that the cause was the way I was throwing the ball when playing Polo, which was a regular activity at the time. Once I modified my throwing technique things started to improve. Maybe your paddling action is to straighten your arm too much and improved trunk rotation would help reduce this. Get someone to watch you carefully or better still use a video camera. Maybe it's something other activity that is the cause.

I used an elbow support and although it didn't seem to make much difference it did remind me of the injury. That may sound daft but the pain will ease to the point that you forget about it way before it is fully healed and as a consequence you then set it off again in a viscious circle.

Re cortisone - tried that - never again, it was agony having it done and for a good 12 hours afterwards.

Good luck


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steve t
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Post by steve t »

Thanks all for the advice. I'll be trying a strap after a few weeks rest & hope all goes well



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Post by johnwoods »

Hi Steve,

I've had the problem on and off for years, though never very badly and haven't suffered yet in the short period since I returned to kayaking. I have one of the supports you asked about - www and I reckon it's really good. Being solid it's a bit bulky though. Last year I bought one similar to the LP Tennis Elbow Brace-701 featured on the same page. I got this from a high street sports shop for about £5 and used it for fly fishing and playing cricket and it did the trick. Try and get one of those locally it will probably do the job, if not spend the money on the expensive contoured clasp.


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Post by glupton »

My Physio wife suggests trying the elbow clasp as a few people have already mentioned. She also says that you could try changing your paddling style to remove the cause of the problem - as tennis elbow is just a repetitive strain injury.

David McCraw

Post by David McCraw »

I was getting a fair bit of pain below my elbows (top of my forearm muscles) which is what prompted me to buy cranks. They really seemed to help, although a brace would be the cheaper option it might just postpone recurrence?

For me it was more to do with gripping less hard, I think - so perhaps try some wax or something if this could be your problem too?

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