Elbow Pain and Cobra Locks - Some observations - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 10-28-2015   #1
 
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Elbow Pain and Cobra Locks - Some observations

So, for most of the summer, my left elbow would start hurting midway through a day of pushing on the oars. What I found was that if I started consciously rolling my wrist forward near the end of the stroke it wouldn't hurt. I've always been a huge proponent of "feathering" oars, specifically working to keep the blade perpendicular to motion during a stroke, but have found that my last two years running cobra locks outside of my sawyer outfitter diameter shafts have diminished the amount I work the oar. This is highlighted by my elbow observation above. The cobra/large D sawyer combo is really sticky and yes, they are properly tuned.

So the other day I took my dad on a duck hunt, 17 miles of upriver wind and halfway through the float my elbow had had enough. I stopped an replaced my left cobra with my spare (old superstron I think) and holy shit, what a difference. within an hour my elbow pain was but a slight twinge and I was back to a much more dynamic stroke on my left oar. If only I had two spare locks with me I would have switched both. It was strange rowing with one lock that gripped the oar and one that let it slide but completely enlightening to me.

So my conclusions are that for now, I'm going back to "normal" locks and in the near future I'm going to try out some pro-loks. I talked to the owner and he said he'd make me a pair oversized to fit my large diameter shafts. Lastly, I can't imagine how screwed up my elbow would be if I rowed with oar rights or some other blade fixing system.

So, anyone want some Cobra's? - Just two years old...

I just thought I'd pass on my observations, might help folks trying to decide, might give ideas to folks with elbow and/or wrist pain: i.e. if your running fixed blades, try free and vice-versa.

Flame - away!

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Old 10-28-2015   #2
 
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Inefficient Cobras

I had a similar experience with my Cobras. I rowed for days on Cat. It was low water ,100 degrees, and windy kinda like camping in a hair dryer on high. My elbows , wrists, back and shoulders hurt. Around mile 70 I switched the Cobras out for single Mercury 3.5 and boy what difference.
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Old 10-28-2015   #3
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I doubt it is the Cobras. Most of the time it is due to using a high back seat that doesn't allow your body to move properly. You shouldn't be pushing a boat with your elbows. The rest of the time it is poor geometry in the rowers compartment especially on adjustable frames,bad technique or oar rights. People get to tinkering and don't realize all the aspects they are throwing off or have never spent a full 14 hour day rowing a boat setup correctly so have no reference to the correct geometry. Another biggie is people are setting their towers too far forward, another elbow killer, the oars shouldn't be flailing in front of you.
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Old 10-28-2015   #4
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GreenWall View Post
I doubt it is the Cobras. Most of the time it is due to using a high back seat that doesn't allow your body to move properly. You shouldn't be pushing a boat with your elbows. The rest of the time it is poor geometry in the rowers compartment especially on adjustable frames,bad technique or oar rights. People get to tinkering and don't realize all the aspects they are throwing off or have never spent a full 14 hour day rowing a boat setup correctly so have no reference to the correct geometry. Another biggie is people are setting their towers too far forward, another elbow killer, the oars shouldn't be flailing in front of you.
All valid points on boat set up, but in this case I know it was the combination of the cobras and the oars resulting in a sticky, hard to spin set up. I'm not new to this game and have been tweaking my setup for years. I've rowed hundreds of rigs and this boat is set up correctly for me. It probably wouldn't be for you. Some of the elbow problem does come from bad posture and lazy rowing - which was promoted by the stiff set up - Just hunker in and deal with it mentality. What I noticed (and stated above) was that when I left the cobra's and went to a more traditional lock if found my whole oar-stroke more dynamic, what I didn't get into was that I also noticed that I was moving my body more and using longer strokes - which I view as being related to the act of feathering and feeling the water. I got back to my roots in other words - just by changing an oar lock.

If it were geometry related, changing the locks wouldn't have fixed it. If it were due to seat back height - no change... the only changes was locks and there was a profound difference. It doesn't matter if my frame was a custom welded work of art or 2x4's bolted together; in this case the oar locks made a huge difference in how I rowed, which changed my rowing style, felt geometry, posture and feel of the water. All this with no change in frame geometry.

I agree that geometry, seatbacks, foot bars, oar length, handle placement, tower placement and a myriad of other things all effect efficiency and comfort, but my comments relate just to an observation between two types of oar locks. Lets not change it into a battle of the frames.
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Old 10-28-2015   #5
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So what you said in there was the point, using your body down into the hip muscles. Almost always a high back seat prevents that correct motion. The frame doesn't matter if it's made from fir branches lashed together as long as they are all lashed in the correct geometry. The cobra oarlock was designed for an extended range of motion and feathering the oars and in my opinion is far superior to any other open oarlock for adaptability to any river condition from fishing to huge water so it doesn't equate that you got a better range of motion out of a different oar lock. If you have it fixed then excellent run what works for you.
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Old 10-28-2015   #6
 
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Exactly - I'm happy with my fix for now. I was just trying to pass on my observations as I was shocked how much of a difference the change made. So much so that I thought others might appreciate the idea. I'm not bashing Cobra's, I just discovered they're not for me and I've chatted with quite a few folks in the past year that left them for essentially the same reason.

Long story short, I just wanted to illustrate that sometimes small changes can make huge differences. don't hesitate to try...I sure wish I had months ago.
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Old 10-28-2015   #7
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GreenWall View Post
...The cobra oarlock was designed for an extended range of motion and feathering the oars and in my opinion is far superior to any other open oarlock for adaptability to any river condition from fishing to huge water so it doesn't equate that you got a better range of motion out of a different oar lock....
I wanted to address this separately...

I've thought about this and it wasn't physically limiting my range of motion, the problem was that it was harder to roll the oar (feather) due toa combination of the rope wrap, rib on the bottom of the cobra and large diameter oars. So in order to feather the oar at the beginning and end of the stroke you had to strongly roll your wrist - it took fairly serious effort. So much so that over time I started rolling less and less. That over time put stress on my elbow (a specific tendon, that I have no idea the name of). To lessen this stress, my stroke got shorter, as this got worse, I just started sitting there pushing from the my chest - exacerbating the elbow problem.... Yada yada yada, the sticky oar locks totally screwed up my rowing geometry.... Yes I could have fixed other aspects (smaller rope wrap, smaller oars, opening the locks more, mentally maintain posture and feathering) but for various reasons the change away from the cobra was the simplest.
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Old 10-28-2015   #8
 
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Can't you spread the horns a little to give the oars some room? My cobra's are not tight on my oars, but I have plastic collars not rope wrap.
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Old 10-28-2015   #9
 
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You can also apply parafin wax to the rope wraps to decrease the friction. You can get a lifetime supply anywhere they have canning supplies.
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Old 10-28-2015   #10
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by caverdan View Post
Can't you spread the horns a little to give the oars some room? My cobra's are not tight on my oars, but I have plastic collars not rope wrap.
I have, they are better when they are open like that, but not great and I still like the lock to hold the oar a bit below the wrap. So even when they're really too open they still bite. I have another set of oars, same diameter but older much more worn and they cobra's work fine with them, but they're 9' and I like my newer 10'. My guess is the main problem is the rope wrap is slightly over sized... maybe sawyer got a deal on some slightly oversized rope...(I got the oars at one of their sales). In the end there is just too much volume inside the cobra's.
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