5 Tips for Avoiding Back Pain while Canoeing or Kayaking

Category: Back Pain | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: July 24, 2017

Back Pain from Canoeing

Minnesota is home to thousands of lakes and streams that are perfect for exploring with your canoe or kayak, but if you’re not careful, you can feel the effects of your adventure in your spine for days or even weeks. Thankfully, if you practice some good spine habits, you can keep your back pain free even after a long day of rowing. Here’s a look at five ways to avoid paddler’s back while canoeing or kayaking.


We can’t stress enough how important it is to stretch before you hit the water. Just five minutes of targeted stretching can help the muscle groups you’ll be using warm up and get ready for repeated motion. Do some trunk twists, toe reaches, arm and neck circles to help prepare your spine for the impending motion.


When you’re at the gym, be sure to incorporate exercises that will strengthen your back and your core muscles. This will help prevent them from breaking down or spasming after a long day on the lake. Abdominal routines with a medicine ball are great exercises to strengthen both your core and your back.


Once you’re on the water, you’ll want to practice good posture control in order to avoid overstressing your spine. We could try to describe the perfect paddling technique, but there are some great videos that show proper form better than we could ever describe with words. For example, check out the 3:30 mark in this video for posture tips while kayaking.


Another thing to remember before you hit the lake is to ensure you are properly hydrated and that you pack enough water to remain hydrated. Dehydration can lead to muscle spasms or strains, so make sure you pack a big bottle of water to bring along on your excursion.

Know Your Limits

Finally, you want to pace yourself in both speed and distance when you head out on the water. You wouldn’t try to run a marathon after buying a new pair of running shoes, so don’t try to go out for a 3-hour paddle the first time you hit the water. Work up your pace and your distance, and always be aware of the water and weather conditions. If you overstress your spine or overwork yourself padding into the wind, your back is one of the first places that will feel it. Know your limits, and if pain starts to set in, take a break or call it a day.

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