Back to Boof – Firing it up or FOMO’ing at home?
by Sal Montgomery
A quick scroll through Facebook or Instagram is all you need for working out where the world is at with lockdown right now. The green lighters are dropping epic Bus-Eater shots, the amber-lighters are stoked on that section of flat by their house that they’ve never even noticed before and then there’s the red-lighters who are keeping busy making that second boat rack in their garage and re-sharing their ‘Throw back’ posts.
So it’s clear that we’re all still in pretty varied situations right now. And that’s ok. Yeah it sucks sitting at home getting FOMO whilst your mates across the pond are out paddling each day, but this won’t last forever and at some point we’ll all be out there firing it up!
Up your game…
Whether your season has started or not, ask yourself what you’re working towards. If you want to take your paddling to the next level and be at the top of your game, then you might want to consider this…
If you knew that a particular type of training could make you a stronger, more powerful and well-coordinated paddler, would you do it? Add to that massively reducing your risk of getting taken out by injury and you’ve got some pretty good reasons to add this in to your week!
With our environment constantly changing around us, whitewater kayaking is a super dynamic sport. Folding waves, stoppers, that surprise rock you didn’t see coming, the demands are all coming in thick and fast, making us rely on quick reactions and the ability to recruit multiple muscle groups simultaneously.
Front , Back and Sides
There’s a common misconception that the core solely relates to the abdominal muscles or ‘abs’. But that instagram’er with the stacked six pack (and tiny shorts) doesn’t necessarily have a stronger core than the party-loving paddler that does a bit of yoga on the weekends. It goes way further than that!
Back: Traps and Lats
Extension of core: Hip flexors and Glutes
Consisting of pretty much all the major muscles of your trunk and pelvis, the core plays a massive part in everything we do. This is where most of our biggest muscles are housed and they can generate way more energy, as well as last a lot longer than all our arm muscles put together. So it makes sense to use them in our paddling as much as possible.
Picture that moment when you reach the peak of a wave – only to realise the wave is actually a hole and you’re about to head straight in to its guts! Pull your stroke with just your arms and you’ll probably get a good beat down. Add your core muscles to the mix and your chances of getting up and over that tow-back are going to be way higher.
We all know that power is pretty useful in kayaking, whether you’re cranking up your boof for that massive hole, punching in to that curling wave or just trying to cross a gnarly flow.; wWe can’t rely solely on power though and that’s where our core just keeps on giving! Not only does it want us to be strong and powerful, it also loves helping us with our technical skills!
Strength and therefore stability within our core muscles is what enables us to perform the complex movement patterns required in whitewater kayaking. By providing balance and co-ordination, the core allows us to carry out both individual and linked components with more ease and more accuracy.
Before you’ve even dropped that edge ready to initiate a cartwheel, the core muscles have already turned on and tuned in! Assisting us to keep the boat on it’s active edge whilst using but not losing control to the current of the water; during which the trunk is fully rotating but also maintain a central body position, as well as co-ordinating the push-pull actions with our paddle. It’s a lot to read, never mind do!
There’s a crazy amount going on- even if you only get one end! But all the while, the core is straight in there and keen to help you perform at your very best.
Injuries suck. They’re painful, annoying and get in the way of paddling. But hey, once again our buddy the core wants to help us out! By essentially giving us a big bear-hug, the core helps to stabilise both the spine and pelvis and absorb some of the load that would otherwise go though these more vulnerable joints.
But that’s not all! As well as protecting the spinal and pelvic articulations, our big core-corset also works hard to protect our other joints too! By creating better stability, our bodies are able to transfer force more efficiently and carry out proper muscle recruitment whilst in action. If you’re core is weak or not engaging sufficiently during movement, we begin to over-use our smaller muscle groups (predominantly the muscles of our shoulders for us kayakers) to produce the required force. Over time this increased strain on the muscles to generate large amounts of energy, as well as the demand put on our joints to transfer it, will likely lead to injury.
Think about an apple. If its got a weak core it’s going to fall part, no matter how strong the adjoining fruit is. So even if you’ve got the six pack, killer quads or huge biceps compared to your buddies, it won’t matter unless you’ve got the core strength to back it up.
So all in all, our good friend Core wants to helps us be stronger, better paddlers and keep us on the water by protecting us from injuries. What a legend! There’s just a few things we have to do in return…
What to do
Actively ‘turn-on’ your core whilst paddling, teaching your muscles to work together
Become more aware of your core, getting in to the habit of engaging it whilst doing everyday activities or other exercise such as running, swimming etc
Incorporate specific exercises in to your regular training regime; try and choose varied exercises that encourage multi-dimensional, closed chain movement patterns rather than isolated muscle moves. So not just hundreds of sit ups!
Check out some of my core stability videos on my YouTube channel.
Part-time Physiotherapist, full-time kayak bum. When not in a remote, sketchy canyon in Asia or dropping off a big waterfall in Chile, Sal can be found at her home in the UK probably running silly distances, swimming in extremely cold seas, or editing the ridiculous amount of GoPro footage from her last expedition.
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