Things to know about kayaking and canoeing

What is canoeing anyways?

A canoe is slightly different from a kayak. A canoe is an open boat in which a canoeist has to kneel in the boat and make use of a paddle that has only one-blade. The situation is a bit different in kayaking, as there, the kayakers usually sit on the kayak and use a double-bladed paddle. Kayaking is more popular among the two paddle sports. (read more Canoes and kayaks: what are the differences?

What do experts have to say about both the sports?

Let us hear from the five time world cup medallist, Campbell Walsh, who was also the part of the famous canoe team ‘GB Canoe Slalom’. He has also won a silver medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics.

Attain a grip: He strongly believes that it is vital to hold the paddle in the right position in order to get a smooth stroke. A Canoeist should raise the paddle above his/her head and ensure that the midpoint of the paddle comes on top of his/her head. He also said that the position of the hands should be in such a way that it forms a right angle at each elbow. This is going to give the right placement to the canoeist. Moreover, the shaft needs to be gripped firmly with the right hand, keeping the hand fixed during the entire venture. He/she should allow the shaft twist in his/her other hand to get into right position in order to have a left stroke.

Paddle Up: A canoeist must paddle up while putting the blade in the water. By doing this, he/she will come in a position for a long stroke. Moreover, it is important to immerse the entire blade in the water before pulling it. The body should also remain stable in an upright position when doing this. The movement of the boat should also be controlled.

Sit right: The way a canoeist sits has a lot to do with the position of the boat. The body of the canoeist should be straight and he/she should lean forward. Putting all the weight on the back could affect the smoothness of the boat as well, so try to sit in a straight position with both shoulders relaxed. It will take some time, so a canoeist must have strong core muscles to sit in this posture while pulling on the blade.

Enhance your core muscles: The strength of the canoeist’s body is important, but it is not the only important thing. Canoeists who train for canoeing are often told to work on their abdominal and back muscles as upper body muscles. The combined power of all the muscles help push the paddle. If any of these muscles is weak, then the canoeist is going to lose a significant amount of power that he/she is trying to transmit.

Push from the feet: It is the feet of the kayakers that initiates a good kayak stroke. The power from the feet will be transferred into the kayak thus letting it move in the forward direction. The movement of the same foot on the side you want to move forward in.

Stay balanced: The key to remain balance is hidden in the boat. For that, a kayaker need to try to paddle for short distances, keeping his/her eyes closed. The power delivered to both, left and right stroke should be the same. If the kayaker manages to stay balanced while doing so, then everything is well and good.

Let’s get started with the canoeing/kayaking:

With a number of ways to try these paddle sports such as, touring, marathons, slalom, recreational, paddling, sea kayaking, sprint racing and white water thrills. It is important for canoeists/kayakers to first consult the respective governing body for the sport in their respective countries. There are many regional clubs and approved centres that offer sessions for beginners. It is not necessary for a canoeist/kayaker to be a great swimmer, but they just need to be able to swim in 50 metres of water without panicking.

The gear required for the sport

In order to get started with the sport, a canoeist/kayaker doesn’t need any specialist gear. They will be provided with three things to get started such as; a boat, a paddle and a buoyancy aid. Some will provide a helmet and a spray deck as well. When it comes to safety, the importance of a buoyancy aid becomes very high, but the individual has to make sure that it doesn’t becomes uncomfortable for him/her or doesn’t limit his/her movements.
A lot is dependent on the water conditions and weather. Wearing right clothes is also quite important because the weather is going to be hot and humid, plus if the canoeing/kayaking is done in the sea, then the saline water will put all sorts of rashes on the skin.
Moreover, wearing a footwear always helps because nothing can be taken for granted in the water. Having the right type of footwear is extremely important.

The negatives

Getting injured is a common thing: Injuries in kayaking is pretty common; if the stats of University of Nevada School of Medicine are checked, then it is clearly mentioned that out of all the injuries, overuse injuries take the maximum chunk at around 25%-40%, most of which occurs on the wrist and shoulders of the kayakers.

Unpredictable environment: There is always some risk involved related to the unpredictable environment, as canoeing and kayaking are also water sports.

No exercise for lower part of the body: Where upper part of the body goes through a rigorous session of exercise and workout, the lower part hardly moves.

Tough time for your hands: The hands of canoeists and kayakers will suffer from calluses and blisters.

The positives

Enhances heart’s health: Canoeists who regularly do canoeing have 50% greater left ventricle than the normal people, which means, more blood circulation in the heart.

Boosts upper body strength: As the role of shoulders and arms are more than any other part of the body, so they are going to get stronger.

Increases mental health: Those who kayak for 3 months regularly remain more confident and can express their feelings in a better way according to a research by Leisurability Journal.

Trims body fat: Many researches show that by regular canoeing and kayaking, the body fat can be significantly reduced.
Enhances core muscle strength: For great torso swift in these sports, a person needs to have excellent core strength, which these sports provide them.