Healthy Shoulders for the Paddling Season

Downtown Vancouver Chiropractor
Electra Health Floor – Downtown Vancouver
Electra Building – 970 Burrard St.
Open 7 days a week from 8 am to 8 pm
604-685-4325 (HEAL)

We have seen a lot of rotator cuff injuries lately. The shoulder joint is one of the most mobile joints in the body, and one of the most common complaints we see at Electra Health Floor.  Kayakers, Canoeists, Rafters, and Stand-Up Paddleboarders are especially susceptible to shoulder injuries, as most of the work to propel their craft through the water is done with the arms.  If your plans involve paddling, the team of health professionals at Electra Health Floor can get your shoulders ready!


The shoulder joint is also called the glenohumeral joint because it is composed of a socket called the glenoid, and the ball at the top of the arm bone called the humerus.  Because the socket of the joint is shallow, the shoulder joint has a large range of motion, and is also easily injured.  Stability of the glenohumeral joint is dependent on a sleeve of four muscles and their associated tendons called the rotator cuff.  The muscle on top of the shoulder is called the supraspinatus, the tendon of which is very commonly torn due to trauma or wear and tear.




The key to preventing rotator cuff problems is to maximize the tone of the rotator cuff muscles, and to minimize stressors that cause them to degenerate.  There are various techniques for exercising the rotator cuff muscles.  Hand weights, kettle bells, and cables can be used to supply resistance, but one of the easiest and most mobile tools is rubber tubing or bands.  There are many companies with different colour-coding systems for grading the resistance of their exercise bands.  For most people’s shoulders, rotator cuff strengthening can begin with the use of a medium-resistance band.

Before attempting the following exercises, let’s lay down some guidelines:

  1. These exercises are intended to strengthen a healthy shoulder.  If you are experiencing shoulder pain, consult a health professional before attempting these exercises.
  2. The exercises are not meant to hurt; if these exercises cause you pain, you may already have significant shoulder damage that needs to be assessed by a health professional.
  3. Start out with 2 sets of 10 reps for each exercise.  Work up to 20 reps over time.
  4. To be effective, rotator cuff strengthening should be performed three times a week.  For even better results, the exercises can be performed once every day.








Be sure to anchor your resistance band to something solid like a stair rail or porch post.  A doorknob may do the trick as an anchor point, provided the door closes securely and completely.  Use a smooth, steady motion on both the pull and release to avoid jarring the shoulder joint.








Practicing and perfecting good paddling and rowing technique is also essential to avoiding degenerative shoulder injuries.  Injuries tend to occur when the arm and elbow are elevated above the shoulder, and force is applied to them.  With kayakers, this happens with improper technique while bracing and rolling.  With rafters and paddleboarders, it can happen when a wave thrusts the oar handle up.  To prevent injury, it is important to keep your elbows pointed down and below shoulder level.


Paddling requires healthy shoulders.  All too often, a nagging pain or biomechanical problem is ignored or masked by painkillers instead of being properly treated.  To stay active on the water during the summer and for the years to come, drop by our downtown Vancouver location for an orthopedic assessment by our Doctors of Chiropractic.

Paddle Often, Paddle Safe, Paddle Healthy!

Vancouver Chiropractor: Dr. Laura Gronkjaer
Electra Health Floor – Downtown Vancouver
Electra Building – 970 Burrard St.
Open 7 days a week from 8 am to 8 pm
604-685-4325 (HEAL)

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