The Importance of Open Shoulders for Paddling Power
There’s no denying that the majority of our time in the water is spent stomach down, arms burning as we propel ourselves through the water to reach the spot where all the action begins. If our paddling technique is average it means we spend even more time belly down as we aren’t fast enough to reach the primo position before ol’ mate Gus paddling next to us. Damn you Gus – slow down a second.
Rather than throwing Gus the evil eye as he paddles breezily past you yet again, let’s think about how we can keep up with the likes of these paddle-demons.
Firstly, glance down at your shoulders. Are they sitting rolled forward? Are you slouching?
To start with, (from a female perspective), you look FAR more attractive when you stand up tall with your shoulders drawn back and down. Something about body language and exuding confidence (plus we all know it hides that beer belly a bit better). From a professional point of view, this puts your shoulders in a much better position to work from. When they sit forward, rolling in, your shoulders are trying to work in a closed in position. Not ideal. Capiche?
Secondly, spend your down time stretching out your pecs (front of your chest) and your anterior deltoids (front of your shoulders) – as both these areas are prone to getting overtight and overused with lots of paddling. If these muscles are too tight they limit the reach as you paddle which decreases the power behind each stroke.
Try these basic stretches (in the privacy of your own home so that Gus has no idea what you’re up to. Alternatively, do it in front of him if you prefer the scare tactic):
Anterior Deltoid Stretch – Make sure your fingers point towards your bottom and place them flat on the ground with elbows straight. Lift you bottom up and walk it as far away from your arms as possible. You should feel a strong stretch at the front of your shoulders.
Reverse plank – keep fingers pointing away from your body and raise your hips as high as you can. This has the added benefit of stretching your hip flexors out as well as your deltoids and pecs.
Pec Stretch – Scorpion stretch. Lie flat on your tummy with both hands out to the side. Lift one leg up and rotate around so that it reaches behind your opposite leg. You should feel a strong stretch through the pec of one arm as well as the quad/hip flexor of the moving leg.
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