Movement and Strength: How to Increase Paddle Power and Be Injury Free

Most athletes believe the best way to accelerate at their sport is to practice their sport.

To some degree this is true; specificity is king and practising what you want to be good at only makes sense.

At the same time, what if you were losing performance in your sport due to poor movement and limited paddling power? What if your paddling resembles driving with the e-brake on…moving forward but with lots of resistance?

Well young Vikings we are here to tell you how you can ease that restriction, how to remove that brake and maximize your paddling potential.

Your answer is to take care of these 4 things:

1. General Physical Preparation (GPP)


GPP is the ability to do anything physical – be it walking, climbing, swimming, punching etc. – efficiently and effectively.

It doesn’t account for specific technical abilities – such as paddling – it just means the physical foundation is there so technical advances in the desired sport can be learned safely and effectively.

In other words, GPP is your foundation, and physical skills are your house. A house with a weak foundation cannot add multiple floors and upgrades; the extra load will make it crumble leaving it broken and in pieces.

The two biggest components of GPP are movement and strength specifically, in that order, and are required to be at a minimum level if you want to be an effective paddler. If you can’t squat bodyweight, do a proper pushup or stand on one leg for any considerable amount of time, you have work to do before you should take on specific tasks.

Take for instance a caterpillaring boat. It is slow, inefficient and doesn’t win races. The same can happen within the body. Inefficient movement and weakness expose you to greater risks of getting injured, slower times and ultimately a lack luster performance.

Quality movement plus strength and conditioning = prepared to succeed.


2. Maximal Strength


Maximal strength is also correlated with applying force quickly or in other words, power.

Want a quick start? Apply more force.
Want to hit your highest velocity in less time? Apply more force.

How do I apply more force? Move well then get strong – real strong.

Why strong you say?

Maximal strength makes everything easier and allows us to move – or paddle – faster. If we increase our max strength, everything else becomes a lower percentage. Lower percentage loads are easier to move fast and reduce fatigue.

Let’s illustrate that concept:

There are two paddlers each carrying their own boat. Paddler A has a maximum carrying capacity of 1000lbs, while Paddler B has a maximum carrying capacity of 500lbs. Which person will likely be able to carry a 450lb boat more effective and efficiently? Paddler A every time. Why? Because 450lb is only 45% of Paddler A’s maximum, but 90% of Paddler B’s maximum boat carrying capacity. We can’t do anything at 90% for that long. But 45%? All day baby.


3. Injury Reduction


Regardless of how good you are, you can’t paddle effectively with nagging injuries.

They alter paddling technique and re-enforce poor performance. Injuries also affect more than water performance; they interfere with daily activities making trivial tasks far more strenuous then they need to be. Add in chronic pain and decreased productivity and you’ve got a great recipe for being miserable.

Quality strength and conditioning focuses on joint balance, counteracting any overused movement patterns in paddling and everyday habits.

Think of it as bulletproofing you for any physical endeavour you want to pursue not only for dragon boat, but for life. Getting shot with a bulletproof vest on won’t guarantee survival, but it sure does improve your odds.


4. Body Composition


Lower body fat, bigger muscles = faster boat.

Like a car, there are many ways to make it go faster, but the two primary components are: add horse power and/or optimize the weight.

Strength training does both. Additional horses in the form of muscle and shedding of extra body fat to optimize your weight in the boat allows you to cut through the water with ease.

Vikings rule the high seas and Vikings are required to be strong. If Vikings were weak, do you think they’d have conquered others and traverse the sea so easily? I think not. Get your strong on young Viking.

Don’t know how? You know who to contact.


Photo Sources: dragonboat, gppmaxstrength, corexellence, bodycomp 

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