Off-season Conditioning and Shoulder Strengthening Tips? - Mountain Buzz

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Old 11-15-2014   #1
Join Date: Aug 2014
Posts: 152
Off-season Conditioning and Shoulder Strengthening Tips?

Max's thread got me thinking. Two things the last few years that I'd like to improve upon:

1) I'm not in great shape and am limited because of that.

2) My shoulders have gotten "tweaks" of pain several times in the last 3-4 seasons, after which, I typically take it really easy for a few weeks until they start feeling better. These "tweaks" are typically from reactionary improperly high braces due to self-taught poor technique (and once from a bad hands roll attempt), which I've since taken some classes from CW and have focused on improving my paddling and bracing technique last season to avoid further injuries.

My questions are:

What do you do for off-season conditioning to be in great shape for kayaking the next season? (I've never been a gym guy, but its not off the table.)

What (in addition to learning how to paddle properly) are the best ways to strengthen my shoulders in order to minimize the likelihood of ending up with a dislocation or injury and having to end up in surgery?



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Old 11-15-2014   #2
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Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
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It's not kayak specific but shoulder stabilization is usually a mix of internal and external shoulder rotations and scapular exercises. Google torn rotator cuff treatments and you will get the info.

As for general conditioning - core exercises 1st, weights 2nd, cardio 3rd (maybe swimming/running 2-3 times a week), finally agility and balance once a week - because most injuries happen on shore. If you don't want to to do the gym route a TRX and some resistance bands make for a pretty good home setup. But don't buy a real TRX ($200) - they're silly expensive for what you get, just use some cam straps and make/buy your own handles or buy a WOSS Strap trainer off amazon ($27).
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Old 11-15-2014   #3
Jackson, Wyoming
Join Date: May 2006
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+1 for rotator cuff rehab exercises. Lots of stuff that doesn't feel like you're doing much, but there are some very specific movements to really build the rotator cuff to be protective. I have a stretchy band routine I do pretty regularly. Google should provide a bunch of stuff on that. Otherwise some core work and general conditioning/cardio seems like a good idea.
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Old 11-15-2014   #4
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Gypsum, Colorado
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Bench Presses and Seated Low Row help my shoulders. I used to swim a lot but found that the reach over the head inflamed my shoulders. Hated to give up swimming.
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Old 11-15-2014   #5
basalt, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2007
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Bicep curls. Lots of them. Once that is done cut off all sleeves on t-shirts and u should b good to go. Even if your paddling sucks chicks at the takeout will b psyched about your guns. At least the chicks with low morels and the right priorities will b.

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Old 11-16-2014   #6
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Teacher, Fort Collins, Colorado
Join Date: Feb 2007
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I have a maintenance routine that my physical therapist gave me after my labrum surgery in September 2013. As a boater and professional classical musician (string bass player), this routine has become invaluable. As much as the surgery sucked, it taught me a ton about shoulder health and and importance of shoulder maintenance. I now actually teach this to my bass students at CSU (classical bass playing is very hard on the shoulders), and have taught it to some of my kayaking buddies who swear by it. Like someone else said, look on youtube for some tips, but basically you need to strengthen rotator cuff, triceps, biceps, and scapular stabilizers (lats, etc.). Sorry I don't have a video of this yet, but I'm working on a series now and will post a link when it's done.

First: I do this at home with a few dumbbells and resistance bands three times a week, but if you have access to a variable position standing weight machine (like a standing row machine for your arms--not sure what it's called) that's even better. Keep in mind these are low weight exercises. Start with very little weight/resistance and build up. Keep in mind form and positioning is crucial--keep your shoulders always back in the sockets for all exercises. I'll tell you the weights I use as maintenance for each, but start with light weight. Every exercise is 20 reps, no less.

Standing exercises with dumbbells:

Overheard reaches: take a 5 lb dumbbell in each hand (start with less weight), arms resting/dangling at your sides. Palms facing your legs (thumbs forward). Lift arms out and up till they are straight above your head (arms always straight) then back to starting position.

Overhead reaches 2: Same as above, but instead of straight up in front of you, lift at a 45 degree angle. Elbows still straight.

Inverted cuff: hold a 5 lb dumbbell in right hand, palm up and thumb pointed to the right (like you are getting ready to do a biceps curl). Lean forward and prop yourself on a table with your left forearm. be sure your shoulder is secure in the socket. extend the arm straight out to the side. Only lift high enough so your arm is parallel with the floor. After 20 reps, repeat with left side.

Biceps curl: use a 10 lb dumbell. Palm up, thumb to the right, elbow touching your side. be sure should is secure in the socket. curl away! 20 reps. Keep in mind function is #1 priority here, not "getting ripped." less weight with excellent form is what will strengthen the shoulder, bulking up isn't the point with any of this. Do on both sides.

Resistance band exercises:

I use moderate to heavy resistance for all these, but use as much resistance as you can handle for 20 reps while maintaining perfect form. Less is better to start.

Straight rows: Hook the band up to a door in front of you, level with your shoulders. Lift up and extend arms directly in front of you, level with shoulders. Row back into your chest in a straight line. 20 reps.

Tree hugs: turn around and face the opposite way of the straight rows. Start with your hands at your chest, and the bands just barely taught. reach around and forward, like you are hugging a tree. Go slow and steady as the bands increase in tension. 20 reps.

Overhead rows: Attach the resistance bands at the top of the door. These are just like the straight rows, but at an angle from a little bit above you (however tall your door is, but 45 degrees is great if you have a door tall enough). 20 reps.

Dips: leave the band attached at the top of the door. Face away from the door. start the dip with both hands touching your sides about 5 inches below your chest level--the resistance bands need to be tight at this point. press straight down the sides and extend fully. This one is tricky to explain, but it's sort of like the opposite motion of if you were going to pick up two suitcases at once (pushing down instead of pulling up). Keep your back straight.

Triceps curl: The resistance band should still be attached at the top of the door, and face away from the door. Holding the resistance band in both hands, start at the opposite position of the biceps curl, so the curling arm hand needs to be up, elbow at side, palm facing down. Keep that elbow glued to your side, and do 20 reps.

Dumbbell exercises on the floor:

External rotations: 5 lb dumbbell. Lie on your left side. hold dumbbell in right hand, elbow touching side. Place a small rolled up towel between your elbow and body for better positioning. Start with hand/dumbbell touching stomach, and lift (externally rotate) up as high as your range of motion allows. Very important to keep shoulder "tucked in" to the socket. Repeat on other side.

Reverse pendulums: 10 lb dumbbell. Lie on your back. Holding the dumbbell, reach directly toward the ceiling, elbow and arm straight. You are going to move the weight around, covering maybe 6-10 inches of total space (pretty confined range). Do 20 reps of each of the following motions: side to side, forward/back, clockwise circles, and counterclockwise circles. Repeat on other side.

That's it! takes about 20 or so minutes 3 time a week, and trust me, you'll wonder how you ever lived without it. Ask any questions to clarify, and hopefully in the next month or so I'll have the video done.
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Old 11-16-2014   #7
pnw, Colorado
Join Date: Oct 2003
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Originally Posted by David Miller View Post
Bench Presses and Seated Low Row help my shoulders. I used to swim a lot but found that the reach over the head inflamed my shoulders. Hated to give up swimming.
See a good swim coach. That shoulder problem is probably a lack of rotation. At least it was for me.

Bench Presses kill my shoulder and cause impingement issues. Lat pulldowns help my shoulders. Experiment yourself and see what helps and what causes pain. If it hurts dont do it.
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Old 11-16-2014   #8
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Salida, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1996
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 384
I have recently started Kettle Bells with a trainer twice a week. The basic concepts target proper body movement and positioning and so as such it is great for core strength and shoulder mobility. Basically, everything my trainer has me do I feel has an uncanny connection to kayaking.

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Old 11-16-2014   #9
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Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2003
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 2,113
Shoulder stuff:

Conditioning - seems like you answered your own question. If you're not in great shape then anything you can do to remedy that will help. Find something you're excited about doing so you'll stick with it. Do it fast before they kick you out of Boulder..

Kayaking specific stuff: do pool sesssions. If you can find a kayak polo group, even better (guess not if you're in Boulder). I like this old Jeff West thing for flatwater training: 40 Minute, 20 Drill, Flatwater Workout for Whitewater Kayaking - Jackson Kayak Jackson Kayak though I admit I never do it.

Swimming is decent cross training.
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Old 11-17-2014   #10
Join Date: Aug 2014
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Thanks everyone! I'll get going this week based on some of your suggestions. Looking forward to getting in better shape, with stronger more secure shoulders as well.
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