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Discussion Starter #1
Hey all!

I’ve created a survey to analyze shoulder injury rates amongst paddlers using bent shaft vs straight shaft paddles. I hope you would consider spend 1-2 minutes to answer it (mainly checkboxes). It’d also be great to spread it around to get a variety of experience levels & opinions!

So far I have about 1,000 responses which is awesome, and figure more is better. The purpose of this isn't to say that paddle choice is the main thing in shoulder injuries, but more to see if there is any type of trend at work.

Here's the survey: Shoulder Injuries: Bent Shaft vs. Straight Shaft Paddles

Thanks!
John
 

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I've never had a shoulder injury, but bad shoulders run in my family so I do tend to take that into consideration when I'm paddling...
Doesn't it have more to do with bracing and rolling techniques as opposed to paddle type?
Do you think using a bent shaft changes the dynamics of bracing? Does it decrease chances of using a high brace?
Am I right in my understanding that a high brace increases chances of shoulder injuries?
Does anyone notice a difference in their bracing technique when using a bent shaft vs straight shaft?
I've never thought of a bent shaft in that sort of light (that it actually affects performance)... I thought it was strictly a comfort thing... but I guess "your wrist bone's connected to your arm bone, your lower arm bone's connected to your elbow, your elbow's connected to your upper arm bone, your upper arm bone's connected to your shoulder" (sung in the best 3rd grader voice I can muster).
 

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I'm going to go against what the 'industry' says and say that Bent Shafts cause more injuries. I've fully dislocated both shoulders (2 separate injuries, high braces into rocks) using a bent shaft and have since switched back to straight. That was about 3 years ago and will never go back to BS. My reasons are:

~ SS allows me to choke up on the shaft more naturally, allowing me to keep my box tighter and closer to my body. Because I have more leverage on the blade when choked up, I also have a stronger roll and braces, decreasing the "panic braces" that have caused my injuries in the past.

~ SS encourages a looser, more proper grip since it is "less ergonomic" in regards to wrist angle. This allows me to let go of the shaft quicker and easier if I do hit a rock hard enough.

~ I feel that by having my wrist at a more cocked angle when taking a stroke, I'm engaging more of my arm muscles and tendons, and thus protecting my shoulders that much more. I have no science to back this up, but its something I notice it myself.

After 3 years since I went back to SS, I've had no injuries and fewer shoulder "tweaks". I also can't stand the way that BS feels now, don't like how they flex, can't stand having my hands locked in one place, and they just don't have the same 'linear' feel that a SS has.
 

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I can't say much on the 2nd and 3rd reasons you feel SS may be safer, but I definitely feel like the 1st one keeps my shoulders a little safer. These bent shafts are designed for a wider paddlers box than I like. I tend to keep my hands a little closer together with a straight shaft, which should help protect my shoulder.
 

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I like the idea of gathering data on the subject, however, given that bent & straight shaft paddles aren't randomly distributed, I question the validity of any correlation found. You might be able to control for some variables by gathering more data. Frequency is a good one, but I don't think # of years paddling is a good data point at all. # of days and at what level would be much more informative.

I bet you could find that people using Werners are more likely to sustain a shoulder injury than people using other brands. But I bet the cause is people who use Werners care more about strength because they boat harder water and expose themselves to more situations that can cause injury. Or maybe it's because the other brands break before their shoulders do... hey maybe breakable paddles are better after all.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
This survey has really gotten popular - something like 2,000 responses so far. Of course with that comes a lot of suggestions for improvements - glad to hear all the input. It really started as a simple survey to look at injury rates, but there are certainly a lot more variables to capture.

Anyway, just to respond w/ my hypothesis here. I've noticed that people have better form when low bracing using a bent shaft vs a straight shaft, but this is purely a personal opinion. The cool thing about this survey is that I have no idea what to expect - once the numbers all come together some interesting trends may result.

Thanks for participating!
 

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Do you mean high bracing? Most people believe shoulder injuries through low braces are very rare.

Do they have a physiology lab at CC? I'm probably getting overly ambitious, but it seems like those places have equipment that they use to track movements and stresses and such for activities like running. Wouldn't it be cool if you could test your theory in a pool using some sensors that could track the actually arm position or whatever you think the difference in form is.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
What I meant is that I've seen boaters with bent shafts sometimes have a better low brace, as in utilize it more often & in a smoother manner (shoulders over elbows, low center of gravity in the boat). This in turn leads them to use a low brace when someone with a straight shaft for example might outstretch for a high brace and have an injury.

So my hypothesis was bent shafts might have a lower injury rate.

We have some sports science stuff here, although probably not that advanced. I wouldn't know for sure though..never got far enough in that program to use it. Good ideas.
 

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Got it. Low brace is usually defined as rolling your wrists forward and using the back face of your paddle blade to brace, hence my confusion.
 
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