Bad paddling posture can turn a great day’s kayaking into a bad day’s kayaking. The following guide to paddling posture and paddle strokes applies to the majority of paddlers.
If you are reasonably mobile then sitting in or on your kayak with your spine slightly forward of vertical is the best position. Your legs should be bent at the knee and hooked under the thigh braces or cockpit rim of your sit in kayak. For sit on top kayaks the bend in the knee is equally as important and using thigh straps (optional extra’s) makes this work much better.
Please Do This Simple Test
Sit on the floor and adopt a position leaning slightly backwards as in the image opposite. Stay in that position for a short while and feel some of your muscles start to complain.
Change position so that your spine is now slightly forward of vertical as in the image opposite. Stay in that position for a short while and you won’t feel those muscles complaining.
Apply the above to your kayaking position and you will notice a huge improvement in both your comfort and efficiency of your paddling strokes. It is important to strike the right balance in your posture however, you can lean too far forwards! This will hurt the same muscles as leaning back does so make sure you are leaning JUST forward of centre. Here are some pictures to help...
Paddling Sit On Tops
Paddling Sit Inside Cockpit Kayaks
Add a good paddling style to good posture and paddle all day. Forward paddling is what Recreational Paddlers do most of the time. When paddling properly it is a whole body activity, it is not restricted to the upper body only. Sitting leaning slightly forward is a great start. Now add some trunk rotation (no elephant jokes please) and adopt a higher paddling stroke, and before you know it your legs, trunk and upper body are all working together. Paddling is easier and more efficient. Look at the images below by way of explanation.
There is an imaginary line down the middle of your kayak or sit on top kayak. Try to get your high hand (the one furthest from the water) over this line. Do this with both hands and you will rotate your trunk and use your legs automatically.
Bad Paddle Position...
Good Paddle Position...
One Final Point
When you adopt the correct paddling style your kayak with track better. By raising your paddle the blade in the water is drawn closer to your kayak and has less of a turning effect. Low paddling styles produce more turning effect as they are closer to sweep strokes. We use sweep strokes to turn our kayaks. If your kayak keeps going off track it is probably only “doing what your paddling strokes are telling it to do”.