Kayaking Injuries

 

 

 

Kayaks have been an instrumental part of fishing, hunting, exploration, transportation, and rescue in remote areas for centuries. Kayaking events have been part of the Olympics since 1936. Kayaks are often confused with a similar watercraft called a canoe. A kayaker sits in the kayak and uses a paddle with a curved blade on each end to propel the kayak across the water. On the other hand, a canoe’s paddle is a flat, one-ended blade and the user kneels, not sits. Today, there are a wide variety of sporting events and recreational activities involving the kayak, including whitewater kayaking, kayaking fishing, races and marathons, sea kayaking, and so forth. Some of these are considered little more than fun and relaxation, but others are extreme sports that inherently pose a risk of injury.

How Do Kayaking Injuries Occur?

Of course, the various kayaking sports may involve different types or classifications of kayaks, including slalom, surf, recreational, expedition, day-trip, sprint, and so forth. There are also tandem kayaks that sit multiple kayakers. The various sports also involve very different environments. For example, whitewater kayaking involves traversing rocky and swift rapids, waterfalls, and so forth. Alternatively, sea kayaking will involve open sea or lake waters. Certain types of kayaks may be additionally outfitted with accessories to assist the kayaker in their particular sport, such as in the case of a recreational kayak used in kayak fishing. One last point is about the design of the kayak, which can include soft chines or hard chines. This is of importance because it’s purported to greatly impact a kayaker’s paddling style, stability, maneuvering, and overall performance.

There are two main types of injuries involved in kayaking sports - overuse injuries and traumatic injuries. Overuse injuries involve pushing the body beyond its normal limitations and doing too much, too fast, and/or too frequently. The most common causative factor is the fundamental repetitive nature of kayaking paddling in all the sports. On the other hand, traumatic injuries involve a one-time incident that directly injures the body. An example of a traumatic injury would be a kayaker striking their arm on a rock in whitewater. Most traumatic injuries in kayaking occur in rapidly moving waters.

Using improper equipment, using improper paddling techniques, and taking on distances and/or waters beyond the kayaker’s experience are also contributing factors in kayaking injuries.

What Are Some Common Kayaking Injuries?

Rotator Cuff Injuries

The upper body is loaded and stressed by the repetitive paddling movements a kayaker must make. The load from the paddle making contact with the water is concentrated in the lower back and from the shoulder down to the wrist. The load is significantly increased when a kayaker is making power strokes through the water with the paddle. One structure in the shoulder that’s commonly affected by the load from paddling is the rotator cuff.

The rotator cuff is collectively comprised of the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor, and subscapularis muscles in the shoulder area -and- the tendons associated with the above muscles. Tendons are fibrous bands of tissue that connect a muscle to a bone. The upper arm bone is connected to the shoulder blade by the rotator cuff. It’s also instrumental in holding the ball of the upper arm bone inside the shoulder socket. When the rotator cuff is overused during shoulder rotation or is loaded extensively, tendinitis and/or strains can occur.

Rotator cuff tendinitis is irritation and inflammation of the rotator cuff tendons. The muscles may also be irritated and inflamed since the rotator cuff is situated tightly between two bones. The affected shoulder may be sore, painful to move and lay on, and feel weak during movement. Chronic rotator cuff tendinitis can cause the tendons to thicken and fray, which will increase the probability of suffering a rotator cuff strain.

A rotator cuff strain is the abnormal stretching or tearing of one or more of the rotator cuff muscles and/or tendons. This injury is graded, as are all strains, based on how badly the rotator cuff was torn or stretched. A grade one rotator cuff strain involves stretching or microscopic tearing of the muscle or tendon fibers. A grade two rotator cuff strain involves less than 90% of the fibers being torn. A grade three rotator cuff strain involves 90% or more of the fibers being torn. The general symptoms of a rotator cuff strain may include:

* shoulder swelling
* mild to significant shoulder pain
* shoulder weakness
* range of motion limitations at the shoulder joint
* possible inability to move the shoulder
* a sudden tearing, popping, or snapping sensation
* tenderness

De Quervain’s Tendinitis

De Quervain’s tendonitis is an inflammatory injury to the wrist tendons at the base of the thumb. There’s a narrow tunnel that the two main wrist tendons must pass through along the thumb-side of the wrist on the way to the thumb. A kayaker’s constant hand grip and wrist motions during paddling can cause these tendons to become irritated and swollen. The inflammation of the tendons restricts the normal smooth movement of the tendons within the narrow tunnel and causes them to become further irritated and inflamed. As this continues, wrist and thumb movements become painful, it becomes difficult to pinch or grasp an object in hand, and there may be a clicking sensation when the thumb is moved.

Contusions

Contusions are bruises. The injury is caused by blunt force trauma to the body. A kayaker is at risk of striking their upper extremity on environmental elements, such as a rock or log, or another kayak as they move through the water or following a turnover. This can often be of great force when the kayaker is in rough and rapidly moving waters. The force of the traumatic impact injures tissue and capillaries in the area that was struck. The specific tissue injured can be subcutaneous, muscle, bone, or even internal organs…it just depends on how hard the body was struck. In any event, the injured capillaries leak blood into the surrounding tissues and cause the black-and-blue appearance one often notes following the injurious event. Aside from this discoloration, the injured area may also be sore, painful, warm, and swollen. In some cases, such as a contusion near a joint, it may also be difficult to move the affected area.

These are only a few of the many injuries common to the sport of kayaking. Other injuries may include - lower back and forearm strains; abrasions; concussions; muscle cramps, especially in the upper extremities; bursitis, especially in the wrist and shoulder; fractures; and so forth.

Products

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Acute Sinew Liniment

Acute Stage Treatment: Rub on the injured area when swelling and/or inflammation are present.

Quickly relieves pain, reduces swelling and inflammation, and breaks up clotted blood and stagnant fluids in the injured area. Stimulates circulation of blood and fluids to help cells quickly repair damaged tissues, providing rapid pain relief and faster healing. Sinew Herbal Ice can be used in-between applications.
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Chronic Sinew Liniment

Chronic Stage Treatment: Rub on the injured area when swelling and inflammation are gone, but you still feel pain, stiffness, weakness or sensitivity in cold and damp weather.

Strongly stimulates circulation to damaged tissues and promotes the healing of overstretched tendons, ligaments and muscles, thereby quickly relieving pain, stiffness and weakness. Sinew Injury Poultice, Sinew Relaxing Soak, and the Sinew Warming Soak can be used in-between applications.
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Sinew Herbal Ice

Acute Stage Treatment: Apply on the injured area when swelling and/or inflammation are present.

This first-aid ice alternative poultice (balm) is used in place of ice to significantly speed up the recovery and healing process. Reduces redness, swelling, and inflammation while dispersing accumulated blood and fluids to help restore normal circulation to the injured area. It reduces the swelling and inflammation more effectively than ice, allowing you to more quickly regain normal range of motion. Acute Sinew Liniment can be used in-between applications.
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Sinew Injury Poultice

Chronic Stage Treatment: Apply on the injured area when swelling and inflammation are gone, but you still feel pain, stiffness, weakness or sensitivity in cold and damp weather.

This poultice (balm) is particularly useful if your injured area is more painful in cold and damp weather. It significantly stimulates circulation to damaged tissues and further promotes the healing of overstretched tendons, ligaments and muscles. Chronic Sinew Liniment, Sinew Relaxing Soak and the Sinew Warming Soak can be used in-between applications.
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Our price: $37.95
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Sinew Relaxing Soak

Chronic Stage Treatment: Used to soak the injured area when swelling and inflammation are gone, but you still feel pain, stiffness, weakness or sensitivity in cold and damp weather. If the injured area is too large or in an area that can’t be submerged in a pot of water, you can also saturate a towel in the liquid and apply it to the injured area.

This soak is particularly useful if you feel restricted mobility in your injured area. It is used to relax muscles, tendons and ligaments that are in spasm to reduce pain and stiffness and improve range of motion. Chronic Sinew Liniment, Sinew Injury Poultice and the Sinew Warming Soak can be used in-between applications.
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Sinew Sports Massage Oil

This specially formulated massage oil is recommended for use before and after exercise, sports and strenuous activity. It penetrates deep into muscle layers to warm and stimulate muscles, increase circulation and relieve tightness, hence improving your performance and helping to prevent injury.
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Sinew Warming Soak

Chronic Stage Treatment: Used to soak the injured area when swelling and inflammation are gone, but you still feel pain, stiffness, weakness or sensitivity in cold and damp weather. If the injured area is too large or in an area that can’t be submerged in a pot of water, you can also saturate a towel in the liquid and apply it to the injured area.

This soak is particularly useful if your injured area is more painful and sensitive to cold or hurts more in cold weather. It is used to bring warmth into the injured area to drive coldness out of damaged tissues and increase local circulation, thereby relieving pain and stiffness in cold weather. Chronic Sinew Liniment, Sinew Injury Poultice and the Sinew Relaxing Soak can be used in-between applications.
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Our price: $23.95
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