Tuesday 15 June 2021
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Kayak Fitness: Strong Core

First of all, what is the ‘core’? Your core is everything from your neck to your hip flexors minus your appendages, your arms and legs. With that being said, core training, is training everything that connects your arms, legs, neck, and head.

Power is generated from the core and distributed through the body to execute the movements we need. Some perfect examples of core power can be found in baseball players up to bat, boxers, golfers, etc. These athletes rely on their core to deliver powerful movements.

Kayaking is another sport relying on taking power from the core to deliver effective strokes and techniques.

Here are some on-river training tips for the core (torso rotation), which I like to use:
• “Frankenstein” (‘cuz this is what Frankenstein would look like if he paddled) – Paddling without bending the elbow. Once in awhile, look down at your PFD to see if it’s moving . . . it should be! Here’s how you execute this drill:
o Hold your paddle out in front of you with straight arms and locked elbows.
o From this position, take short strokes while keeping your arms totally straight. If you focus on keeping your arms straight, you will notice that your torso needs to rotate more to be able to take a stroke. If you don’t feel your torso, then take a look at your arms. Are they really straight with elbows locked?
o Once you get used to paddling with straight arms and rotating your torso, you can then relax your arms a bit and keep the same rotation through the upper body. This drill will give you a powerful, efficient and effective forward stroke.

• “Paddle Splash” – Twist your torso and set your paddle up as if you were setting up for an on or off-side roll (but don’t lean forward). Then scoop some water up with the front blade and follow through with the back blade to ‘splash’ and ‘hit’ the water. You should concentrate on powerful torso rotation during your set-up, but especially through your ‘follow through movement’. Push your feet into your bulkhead to assist in a powerful ‘follow through’. Repeat 10 times on each side before you start paddling downriver.

Here are some off-water core training tips and exercises:
• Knee lifts using the Roman Chair – This exercises is perfect for training your core for powerful ‘boofing’.

• Exercise ball oblique crunches – This exercise strengthens the obliques to help with the roll, as it strengthens the muscles important for a powerful hip snap.

• Back extensions – “core work” isn’t just your abdominals. Make sure you balance your core training and you will be even more powerful and decrease your risk of injury from muscle imbalances.

• Side stretch – make sure you work on your flexibility through the obliques. The more flexible you are in the abdominal area and back, the more torso rotation you will have. The more torso rotation you have, the more power you will have in each stroke AND the better your roll will be.

Remember: You will be stronger in executing movements if you have a strong core to generate that power. In every activity we do in life, it starts at the CORE.

Heather Herbeck
Team Jackson Kayak