Can I paddle with knee injuries?

  • If you have a history of knee injuries, we would suggest that you seek doctor’s approval before engaging in the paddle boarding.

Paddle boarding is a captivating sport. It attracts a lot of people to go out on the water. One of the reasons why the sport is enticing so many people to try it is that it looks easy but fun. 

And the fact is it’s basically as easy as it looks. Everyone can ride the board smoothly with a little instruction and guidance on the water. one of the concerns that stopped people from getting out on the water is their past injuries. Some might also worried they are not physically fit for paddle boarding. The most common health related concern is knee injuries.

Is paddle boarding bad for your knees?

If you have weak, stiff, or sore knees, paddle boarding on flat water is a great way to gain and maintain knee strength. Even those with ongoing knee injuries or those recovering from surgery can benefit from paddleboarding.

This is because paddle boarding is a relatively low impact sport compared with sports like running or even swimming. And you can do it in a lot of different conditions like flat water, whitewater, waves or long-distance.

If you have some minor knee injuries or conditions, you can really benefit from a low-impact paddling session on calm water. Paddleboarding is a great way to strengthen the muscles that surround the knees and can sometimes help rehabilitate problematic knees.

People with physical limitations from injuries should seek doctor’s approval before actually going out. Paddle boarding is a leisurely, low-impact, physical training that engages all muscles in the body. Most paddlers start with kneeling when they start to learn how to paddle board.

If you are worried about aggravating your old knee injuries, try sitting on the board instead of kneeling in the beginning. If needed, you can even consider getting a kayak seat, provided that your board has the D-rings that are required for the installation of the seat. By sitting on the board, you can take the pressure off your knees and have a smoother transition to standing on the board.

Is paddle boarding suitable for all ages?

Some people might be concerned if their age is going to be a problem for SUPing.

Age is not a limitation for paddle boarding. But there are some basic considerations for safety on the water one should keep in mind. But as long as you can swim and feel comfortable in the water, you should definitely give this wonderful sport a try.

Generally paddle boarding is a low-intensity sport, as long as you keep a rather slow pace on the water, it won’t put much pressure on your body.

Is kneeling on a paddle board a good exercise?

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A lot of people don’t think of paddle boarding as a way to exercise because it doesn’t really look that challenging at first glance. In actuality, it’s a very effective full-body workout. 

Even when paddling in a kneeling position, balance, strength and endurance are all exercised equally. A lot of professional athletes believe stand up paddle boarding can work the entire core as well as the arm and leg muscles throughout the entire paddling motion.

The main muscle groups activated while paddle boarding are the latissimus dorsi, or mid back, the deltoids, or shoulders, the flexor and pronators, triceps and biceps in the arms. And the area that paddle boarding works most is the core.

The major core muscles include transversus abdominis, the pelvic, internal and external obliques, rectus abdominis, longissimus thoracis and the diaphragm. These core muscles are engaged in basically every movement you make and are the muscles most professional athletes and trainers believe are the most important for overall fitness.

How to prevent injury when paddle boarding?

Paddle boarding is a fairly low-impact sport, but you can turn it into an intense activity. There are people who participate in SUP races, whitewater paddling or long-distance touring, which are all very intense compared to paddling casually on flat water.

If you paddle mostly on flat water at a relatively slow pace, then it’s very unlikely you will get injured. But when doing high-intensity paddling, it’s possible to get injured if done wrong. There have been some known complaints and injuries caused by paddle boarding and specific strategies to help prevent them.

Warm Up

Just like with any sport, it’s always a good idea to warm up before you start to paddle. It will help make sure you have adequate blood flow to all your major muscle groups.

Shoulders

A lot of overuse injuries occur in the shoulders. One way to low the risk of shoulder injury is to keep your elbow below shoulder height on the arm that is gripping the top of the paddle and keep your top hand below eye height.

When taking a stroke, focus on leaning forward and using your body weight to help you push the paddle through the water. Make sure your paddle is at the right length and not too long for you.

If you are suffering from shoulder impingement, try using a paddle that’s 1-2 inches shorter than the one you are currently using. Using a board with better glide performance and a paddle with a smaller blade will also help make things better.

Lower Back

Back issues are also common among paddlers. 

Again, make sure your paddle is at a suitable length. Adjusting the paddle to be shorter can help protect your shoulders but might lead to lower back pain.

The best way to find the right paddle height is to stand up straight and reach up with one arm. Don’t stretch the arm, just reach up comfortably and let the handle nestle in your palm. During paddling, be sure to hinge from the hips by pushing your glutes back while rotating your torso and keep your spine straight the whole time.

Elbows

To prevent elbow injuries, first make sure not to hold the paddle too tight as it would fatigue your forearm muscles quickly. Use the hip hinge mentioned above to extend your paddle stretch instead of overextending your elbow and overstretching your arms.

If you do suffer from elbow pain, you might want to consider taking some time off from paddleboarding and try using a foam roller on your forearms as well as your biceps.

There are two trigger points on each side of your upper back about 3-4 inches below your trapezius muscles that can also affect your elbows.  Try lying on a lacrosse ball and find those points and grind the ball into them.

Conclusion

Knowing what to do and what not to do will effectively keep you away from injuries. If you do start to feel pain, take a break from the sport, consult your doctor and get medical approval before starting again.

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