Update: The response to this survey has been huge (2,700+ responses)! I'm going to let results trickle in, then we'll get down to analyzing the numbers later in the spring. Thanks for the help!
Shoulders are by far the most injury prone joint in whitewater kayaking, and we all know someone who has "tweaked" it, or worse, while on the river. Recurring subluxations (partial dislocation) or full dislocations can lead to a torn labrum and the need for surgery. It's not an easy process, but helps stabilize the joint and reduces the risk of developing arthritis.
Could paddles make a difference?
I've been through the surgery process, and I'm sure a couple of you have too. Researchers don't really study whitewater kayakers too much, and although one report showed 5 - 15% of injured kayakers suffered a dislocation, no information exists on what factors may have contributed to the injury. Bent shaft paddles are typically marketed as more "ergonomic", and are advertised to put the wrist in a more neutral position which reduces strain. That alone shouldn't make a difference in shoulder injury rates, but I've noticed a different paddling form when I switch between a bent shaft and a straight shaft.
That's what this survey is for. I'm interested to see if any injury trends can be teased out between these two types of paddles. As far as I know, this is the first time anyone's looked at this in a quantitative way. It's sure to be a rough survey, but with enough responses something interesting could come of it. And who knows - it could influence your future buying decisions!
Here goes the survey. Answer in as much detail as possible. Thanks!
Thanks for completing the survey! I'd really appreciate if if this got shared with more of the kayaking community. Once all the results are in I'll crunch the data and present any relevant findings.
Any questions or opinions? I'd love to hear from you, just shoot me an email. Or leave a comment below.
Enjoy this? Sign up for email & RSS updates from the site. No spam, I promise!
If you're looking for more to read, here are a couple popular articles: