New paddles and back pain

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Beady
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New paddles and back pain

Post by Beady »

Just wondered if the combined wisdom could throw any thoughts to me on this.
Used to paddling a Werner Shuna (at both long and short lengths) and had no problems at all, whatever style/angle I use. Recently acquired some slightly lower-angle style (i.e. longer and thinner) blades, about the same or just slightly bigger surface area as the Shunas. Set at the same feather (give or take, experimenting still), adjustable length but find myself wanting to run at overall length 5cm over the shorter Shunas (so far...). The new paddles' weight is more than the Shunas - supposedly not by much, but to me it feels a lot!), and they definitely feel more 'torquey' - and they can certainly generate a bit more power/speed in the same boat.
BUT - I've noticed that each time I use them I'm getting quite a painful/achy lower back on one side (not spinal, just above pelvis area). No other problems (which is surpising as I have a neck and shoudlers prone to strain if anything's going to casue iritation). It can come on fairly quickly, even on gentle paddling, and despite trying different set-ups and paddling angles I can't for sure work out why it's happening as I'm using the same technique, same seat, same everything. Have swapped the 2 pairs around mid lake and it definitley happens only with the new set and gets better with the Shunas.
Is it simply the effect of just pulling a tad more weight, maybe a bit more torque, a bit more water? Do I need a different posture (maybe leaning forward more?) - I have a back band seat not a full supportive backed jobbie. Do I need to change angle/length? Will my muscles adapt? Or are these just not the paddles for me?
Have asked a few people to observe me, no-one can see anything terribly amis with my technique (for a non-expert!) or different between the 2 sets of paddles.
Thanks for any thoughts.
Chris Bolton
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Re: New paddles and back pain

Post by Chris Bolton »

some slightly lower-angle style (i.e. longer and thinner) blades
I've thought of lower angle as being more to do with blade shape (asymmetry) than aspect ratio. But maybe you're right. Are you paddling with a lower angle?
overall length 5cm over the shorter Shunas
That's reasonable; it's length between blade centres that matters, not tip to tip.
painful/achy lower back on one side
Which side? Feather control hand or the other?
I have a back band seat
My back issues have reduced since I did away with back support altogether; it might be worth a try?
no-one can see anything terribly amis with my technique
Where do you feel you're rotating from - hips or shoulders? What are you doing with your legs?
DirkZ
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Re: New paddles and back pain

Post by DirkZ »

Hi, after the joy of buying a new paddle for me come at least 4 months ( and I paddle 2 or 3 times a week summer and winter) before I get used to a new paddle.

Own a Camano which I bought as an upgrade after the Werner Tybee. Felt like I was struggling with the catch initially. Just didn't feel right. Now I love my Camano.
More recently I bought a Werner Cyprus to get back to high angle paddling for shorter up tempo outings. Again i struggled with the catch initially
I was so focused on getting it right that I ignored all of the other technique ( upright position, rotation, stroke lenghth). That led in my case to shoulder and back pain.
Now I love my Cyprus.

I do some long track speed ice skating and inline skating. The thermoplastic shoes I use are moulded to my feet. They last for about ten years and then I need new ones that are again moulded to my feet. I hate that. Apart from being expensive, it takes months untill I have the same connection with the ice again. They just feel slightly different.

My advice: give it a bit more time and do not switch back and forth to your Shuna for a while.
But do check whether the loom is stiffer and/or the blade is less dehydredal.
Beady
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Re: New paddles and back pain

Post by Beady »

Hi Chris and Dirk. Thanks. (And I get the ice boots: don't get me started on ski boots!)

I may have described the blade shape wrongly: I'm not an expert!

The problem's on my (very dominant) fixed/grip side.
I often don't use seat back contact at all; does feel like I need a bit more support at times, though, another thing which I've only noticed with the new paddles.
I hope that I'm using my feet/legs to push and rotate around the pelvic area on all strokes - certainly trying to and, as said, I'm not getting any arm, shoulder or neck problems with either set of paddles. Doubtless still things to finesse there though; being quite a supple person, I can do a lot of different version of rotating!
I think, maybe, there's more of an issue if I use the new ones in a lower angle style or further out from the boat's side: I can use the Werner's anywhere though, although I often prefer running them along pretty close to the sides rather than further out. I also naturally (perhaps badly?) dip the Werner blades very deep into the water (even on a 105): not sure what I do with the newer ones.
My paddling partner has just said that he thinks I actually rotate more with the new paddles, and that I take them out of the water further back. Maybe that's it: but then, why am I doing that??? Will have to go out and get myself closely observed again: I can't obviously feel any difference in what I'm doing, but there will be something.
I agree, it's probably best to stick to one set (new ones) and concentrate on technique: trouble is, at the moment it's often too painful to avoid swapping back.
Beady
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Re: New paddles and back pain

Post by Beady »

Addendum - just done a 'back of the envelope' trial paddle on a stool in the lounge (yeah, OK...) and even set at identical total lengths, the new, heavier ones (not surprisingly) have a hugely-increased swing weight, carry-through, or whatever engineering and physics types will call it. In turn, the natural circular sweep of the stroke goes a lot further back past my body, which is perhaps being rotated further round by it too.
Hmmmm.... Need to get back in boat and think about that.
Mac50L
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Re: New paddles and back pain

Post by Mac50L »

Possibly, as you mention, swing weight. Just what are the weights of your paddles. Mine are between 700 and 800 gram.
Chris Bolton
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Re: New paddles and back pain

Post by Chris Bolton »

If you're carrying the stroke further back, it's possible that you are doing so more on your dominant control side. It's a long time since I used feathered blades, but things always seemed harder on the other side. So that could be the asymmetry. Maybe the extra rotation on the dominant side, or possibly the extra stretch on the dominant arm to maintain the shaft rotation while carrying it further back?
jamesl2play
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Re: New paddles and back pain

Post by jamesl2play »

So what is wrong with sitting on a stool in the lounge ?
One of the best ways to analyse your stroke is to sit in front of a mirror.
What you think you do is very often different to what you are actually doing.
I never understand why sea kayakers do not spend more time on perfecting their forward stroke.
The Inuit did not start off in a boat.
Beady
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Re: New paddles and back pain

Post by Beady »

jamesl2play wrote:
Sat Jan 22, 2022 12:05 pm
So what is wrong with sitting on a stool in the lounge?
Only the fact that my lounge isn't very big and I have (oops, crash, had) a lot of valuable ornaments and clutter ;-)

As to weight, Werners are 850g, new ones 1250g - as per kitchen scales - which is actually a fair bit more than I was sold them to be (though with pandemic shortages, just getting some was a minor miracle!). Being length adjustable seemed a good idea at the time... But they're otherwise a lovely paddle, and definitely propel the boat faster, so I hope that I can learn to love them in due course; and if not, I know that I stick with much lighter ones.

I suspect that Chris is right, I might well carry that stroke further back. I do tend to favour my dominant side, it's probably more flexible: I struggle a lot more with paddle placement on the left (non dominant) and general rotation to that side.

More to work on next time that I'm out :-)
Chris Bolton
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Re: New paddles and back pain

Post by Chris Bolton »

I struggle a lot more with paddle placement on the left (non dominant) and general rotation to that side
There's actually a logic to controlling feather with your left hand, in that case, to make left side placement easier. Or scrapping feather altogether, which I did over 25 years ago and haven't regretted.
Beady
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Re: New paddles and back pain

Post by Beady »

I'm (only?) on 30 degree feather. I find it very natural on both the Shunas and new ones - zero feather feels wrong. I set it both by paddling along and also leaving the feather/blades 'unlocked' and seeing where my rotation naturally wanted the non-dominant blade to enter the water. (Read somewhere that it was a way to test it - probably not explaining it well.)
But I suppose I could experiment there too, doubtless us something to be improved or learnt. :-)
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