Stretching your muscles both before and after kayaking helps to increase flexibility and prevent injuries. In addition to stretching the upper body muscles that you will use kayaking, don’t forget to also stretch the assisting muscles in the lower body as well.
A shoulder warm-up stretches the rotator cuffs, which are used in all kayaking maneuvers, and the shoulder girdles. Stand up straight, and slowly rotate arms in a large circle, moving in opposite directions. Try for two sets of 10 repetitions.
Bicep muscles are crucial in forward strokes. To strengthen and stretch these muscles, stand against a wall. Place one hand behind you on the wall with thumb pointed down. Your arms should be straight out behind you. Looking forward, bend your knees holding the position for 20 seconds. Now repeat with your other arm. Try for two sets of four reps. This exercise also stretches the anterior deltoid.
The triceps are antagonist to the bicep muscles. They, too, are used in all forward strokes. To stretch the triceps, take your paddle and hold it behind you with your top hand reaching over the shoulder and behind your back, and your bottom hand reaching behind your back, and hold the paddle. Pull the paddle down, and hold for 20 seconds. Repeat the position switching arms.
Lateral Neck Stretch
The lateral neck stretch helps to loosen the trapezius, which is used during forward strokes and rolls, as well as the middle scalene. Move into a sitting position, and place one hand so it’s tucked under your hips. Take the other hand and reach it over your head so it’s touching the opposite ear. Pull the head gently in the opposite direction, and hold the position for 20 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
The chest stretch helps to stretch the pectoralis major, the subscapularis (part of the group of muscles controlled by the rotator cuff) and the anterior deltoid. Begin by standing next to a door frame, resting your elbow and forearm on the frame. Slide your arm up until your elbow is higher than your shoulder. Hold this position for 20 seconds. Then step forward, but keep the shoulders in the same position and hold for another 20 seconds. Repeat with your other arm.