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Warming Up Before Hitting the Water

Alan Bergman – Even though kayaking, canoeing and paddleboarding are all considered low-impact, aerobic sports, it is still prudent and just good common sense to warm up before leaving shore.

Preparing your body for a few hours of paddling or rowing doesn’t require a gym visit or an extensive workout beforehand.  Five-fifteen minutes of dynamic stretching on land can help achieve a full range of motion on water; and, possibly prevent any post-paddle soreness, as well.

These stretches may be quite beneficial:

Hip flexor lunges – starting in a standing position, take a big step forward with your right foot.  Next, bend your extended knee and transfer your weight on to the right leg.  Slowly lower yourself into the lunge until your left knee is situated just above the ground (or just gently touches it).  Check to confirm that your right knee is directly above your right ankle.  Now reverse what you just did . . . revert back into a straight, standing position and take a big step forward with your left leg.

Hamstring stretches – lower yourself to the ground, laying on your back, with your knees bent.  Lifting one leg, straighten it, grab it near the ankle and gently pull it towards you and hold for about ten seconds.  Repeat this with the other leg.

Torso twists – sit upright on the ground with your legs stretched in front of you.  Slowly twist your head, shoulders and chest in one direction, and be aware of the stretch that you should feel throughout your torso.  Next twist your head, shoulders and chest in the opposite direction.

C stretches – standing with your feet slightly spread apart, raise your hands up, interlacing your fingers.  Slowly lower your arms down one side, so that your body forms the shape of a C.  As you do this, the stretch should be felt on your opposite side.  Return your hands above your head, and repeat on your body’s other side.

Some kayakers and canoeists warm-up by sitting in their boats on land, paddle or oar in hand, and slowly simulating the paddling or rowing motion, while engaging their body’s core.   By the way, it may be smart to exercise again upon leaving the water for the day; just a brief, cool down period of some easy, low-impact stretching.