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Thread: Paddling side preferences

  1. #1
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    Default Paddling side preferences

    Given the conditions , I always paddle on my left hand side. I find it less tiring, easier to control the angle of the blade and it is easier for me to reach across the boat from this side. In certain circumstances I will paddle on the other side but it always feels less natural and uncomfortable. Paul on the other hand much prefers paddling on his right, this works well as we usually paddle tandem at the moment.

    We are both right handed and many people I have seen out seem to prefer paddling on their right. But does which hand you favour influence your paddling?. If so why would I favour a different side to Paul. Or does this not have any bearing at all .
    Has anyone else noticed that they prefer to paddle on a certain side?.
    Or is it just down to old shoulder muscle damage that I have more difficulty paddling one side than the other.

    Should I make more effort to paddle on my right so that I get more used to this position for when I need it? (i see this guy prefers the left too)

    Your thoughts.
    'There is no wealth but life itself.'

  2. #2
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    Allthough most people will have a preffered side,its not a good idea to always paddle on the same side. especially when solo.
    In certain wind and wave conditions or on rapids it may not be posible to paddle on your preffered side, if you have not trained your muscles to paddle on both sides you could be in for a very dificult and uncomfortable paddle.
    So practice paddling on the "wrong side" when things are easy then it will feel more natural when you are forced onto it by the conditions.
    I cant even remember which is my prefered side but I am right handed
    Last edited by David B; 29th-March-2006 at 10:11 AM. Reason: I did not answer the original question

  3. #3
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    Like you two I try the practice on both sides. But paddling on the right just seems more natural to me. I'm left-handed & it seems easier to put my stronger shoulder into the stroke.

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    I can paddle on both sides but tend to me marginally more comfortable paddling on my left. I am right handed. I certainly seem to have slightly more control paddling on the left but also suspect I can paddle stronger on my right. So if I am trying to make headway into the wind I often switch to my right.

    I think part of my preference for the left is that I am more comfortable with my feet for that position (right leg straight out, left foot tucked under). I can maintain this position for a long time but the opposite position gives me a dead foot in about 10 minutes.

  5. #5
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    Working on both sides if pretty essential for multi day tours when you could be paddling for many hours. I don't really have a preferred side, but there are stokes that are easier on certain sides, eg I Indian stroke best on the R, and knifed J best on the L.

    In WW I'm stronger on the R, so run easier stuff on the weak side.

    5* paddlers reckon not to switch sides at all. Good luck to them! I often select a side for a run, then stick with it. The side I chose will depend on any must make moves or side walls of gorges that make it impossible to paddle a certain side.

    Come to think of it, recently I have had my paddling side dictated by injury
    If it wasn't for the rain in our lives there would be no rivers. X 2

  6. #6
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    I'm right handed and prefer to paddle on my right hand side. I find I still can't do a good J-Stroke on my left when paddling solo. Something to work on this year, as I've needed(wanted) to swap sides due to both wind and tiredness.

    When paddling tandem with my wife we tend to swap more regularly as she also prefers her right side, and I can get away with not such a good J, more of a stern pry. It's not that efficient but it works!
    Matto

    Ours was the marsh country, down by the river, within, as the river wound, twenty miles of the sea.


  7. #7
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    Default Paddling side preferences

    Hi,

    I am predominantly left handed, I use a knife and fork right handed but would use a hammer or screwdriver in what hand fitted the situation, for example in a corner.

    I paddle a kayak normally right handed but can transfer to left with very little problem, I will role either left or right but prefer winding up on the left.

    I paddle canoes on the left, this side has always felt very strong. I do however paddle on the right side but mainly for coaching purposes so that students can see a stroke done on their prefered side, or to allow my left hand to warm up as it is always close to the water and can get cold.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Booker
    I paddle a kayak normally right handed but can transfer to left with very little problem, I will role either left or right but prefer winding up on the left.
    With a Kayak paddle surely there is no such thing as left or right side as you paddle both, don't you?

  9. #9
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    Default Paddling side preferences

    Hi,

    Unless you use a flat blade then there would be no difference. Most blades now are curved as they catch the water better and create a more powerful stroke, they also make the paddle handed, you will also find the blades assymetrical on most modern paddles which also increase performance.

    Place the end of the paddle on the floor with the face of the lower blade facing your shins, the upper blade will now face left or,right therefore a left or right handed paddle.

    With a right handed paddle you will have a tight fixed grip with the right hand and a loose grip with the left. The right wrist has to hyperextend (bend backwards) to get the left hand blade to the correct angle for entry into the water. This may cause tendonitis in the right forearm from the repetitiveness.

    This may also occur in long distance canoeists that are not used to covering large distances (RSI- repetitive strain injury) that is why in europe and some N American paddlers are using cranked shafts as they keep your wrist and arm in better alignment. Not a common sight in trad boats, but common in OC1. Bending Branches do a gorgeous double curve bent shaft paddle for long distance paddling made out of wood, some of you that went to the NEC may have seen the ery beast on one of the stands.

    PB

  10. #10
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    Default Paddling Sides

    Funny one for me this I've always been a left hander but paddle,fish,and shoot right handed,(shooting wise is probably due to my right master eye) tool use I am completely ambidextrous. But now you've set me off thinking which side I use for what and other than writing which side I favour. Mike B...

  11. #11
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    I swap sides very often while paddling. Its the only way to keep going all day. Also, its hard enough trying to get nice clothes when you have big paddling shoulders. It would be even harder with just one big shoulder.

    I think its useful to be able to do both as some rapids are easier left handed and other are right handed.

    I do try to only every change when its safe, like in an eddie. Swapping sides while actually paddling a rapid is a good way to loose control.
    Rogue

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike B
    Funny one for me this I've always been a left hander but paddle,fish,and shoot right handed,(shooting wise is probably due to my right master eye) tool use I am completely ambidextrous. But now you've set me off thinking which side I use for what and other than writing which side I favour. Mike B...
    It was always a nightmare instructing shooting when folk were cross dominant with their eyes. However, once dealing with experienced shooters it didn't matter, either they had cross over sights on the rifle, or had learned to shoot off the weak shoulder.

    Thank goodness canoeing doesn't have quite the same problems....we can swap sides at will. I can't imagine a shooter switching sides during a competition.

    Mind you, some of my scores looked as though I had done just that
    If it wasn't for the rain in our lives there would be no rivers. X 2

  13. #13
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    I know nowt about paddling other that my preference is to the right but it's the same in a lot of areas.
    On a bike everyone has a favorite lean direction.
    With a bow some folk shoot wrong-handed from preference.
    I climbed with a southpaw once and knew beforehand. Was surprised at his gear placement until he told me that he had to do everything the other way round because of his vision.
    It's all about balance....
    Picture yourself in a boat on a river,

  14. #14
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    Right handed but prefer to paddle on the left - when touring solo. Mind you I'm a bit kack handed - I use my knife and fork left handed and fold my arms the wrong way. But for writing and using tools I'm strongly right handed. Mind you as I always say - I'd give my right arm to be ambidextrous
    Back to paddling:
    When racing tandem we swap sides roughly every 15 - 20 strokes.
    Regards

    SuperNova

  15. #15
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    Default Right

    right handed & right side dominant, but try to vary when I can

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rogue
    I swap sides very often while paddling. Its the only way to keep going all day. Also, its hard enough trying to get nice clothes when you have big paddling shoulders. It would be even harder with just one big shoulder.
    This brings up another point. There is some evidence that an inbalance in muscular development (perhaps resulting from paddling a lot on one side) may also lead to injury or a distortion of the spine.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Prospector
    This brings up another point. There is some evidence that an inbalance in muscular development (perhaps resulting from paddling a lot on one side) may also lead to injury or a distortion of the spine.
    I have heard that as well and that rowing clubs are advised to only have junior members rowing boats where they are using two oars at the same time.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Prospector
    This brings up another point. There is some evidence that an inbalance in muscular development (perhaps resulting from paddling a lot on one side) may also lead to injury or a distortion of the spine.
    That could be part of the reason I find it uncomfortable to paddle on my right. As a teenager a lot of the activities I did placed hugh strain on my shoulders and as a result some of the musscles seem to have permenantly shortend. I think I will just have to swap sides when ever I can and see if the situation improves.
    'There is no wealth but life itself.'

  19. Cool Pladdle sides

    Hi folks

    I used to prefer paddling on my left, but then my dad ( Big Al.) got tennis elbow, and couldnt paddle on his right. So we swapped sides and it has really improved my paddling, and now I'm comfortabe paddling on both! It has also helped me when I'm paddling solo!

    Vampire Duck

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    Its good to be ambiduckstrous with your paddling.
    Rogue

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    Quote Originally Posted by Silvergirl
    Given the conditions , I always paddle on my left hand side. I find it less tiring, easier to control the angle of the blade and it is easier for me to reach across the boat from this side. In certain circumstances I will paddle on the other side but it always feels less natural and uncomfortable. Paul on the other hand much prefers paddling on his right, this works well as we usually paddle tandem at the moment.

    We are both right handed and many people I have seen out seem to prefer paddling on their right. But does which hand you favour influence your paddling?. If so why would I favour a different side to Paul. Or does this not have any bearing at all .
    Has anyone else noticed that they prefer to paddle on a certain side?.
    Or is it just down to old shoulder muscle damage that I have more difficulty paddling one side than the other.

    Should I make more effort to paddle on my right so that I get more used to this position for when I need it? (i see this guy prefers the left too)

    Your thoughts.
    I prefer the right. My wife prefers the left.

    PG

  22. #22
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    I like to paddle on my rightside but I am about 80% ambidextrous so I sometimes switch in good conditions to build muscle memory on the off side, just in case I got a minor injury or something. Angela paddles on the right so it works out for doubles. Sometimes I sit in the middle with the dog over the side for a swim, hold on to his collar and let him do the dog paddle. He is a retriever and loves the water and the canoe.

  23. #23
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    Paddle on both sides.

    It helps with the tendonitis..! My doctor has advised me to exercise the muscles in my forearms, and it works,........ the pain is getting better, get a tin of beans or some other canned vegetable.............!! place forearms flat on an arm chair and roll the wrists back, slowly 10-20 times on the left and the Right sides, tensing the muscles, three times on each arm.

    Then place the backs of your fore arms on the arm chair and repeat the same.

    As the strength grows in the muscles, the pain in the tendons will decrease, I don't know....I am not a doctor.....it works..!!

    The other guiding factor is that on rapids you need to react quickly on both sides, so it pays to build up the muscles on both sides of the body.

    Jim

  24. #24
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    I paddle on the right, except in extremely windy conditions.

    One thing I've never understood is the theory of having rapids that are better paddled left or right handed. If your stroke work is good enough to be on the rapid, shouldn't it be good enough to move the boat however you want paddling on your good side? if it's just cos there's no room to get your paddle in the water because of rocks or whatever there's always cross deck strokes (I can't remember ever seeing a C1 paddler swap sides, and they paddle much crazier stuff than us trad. boaters).

    If improving is all about time spent paddling, and you practice say 20% of the time on your off side isn't that 20% less time spent on the side you actually use?

    Having said all of this I do have strangely uneven abdominal muscles and my paddling on either side is a little cack these days, having spent the last five years working in climbing walls rather than spending time on the water. That reminds me, I must remember to book that holiday when I get to work tomorrow, then find a river that will have water in it at the end of June!

  25. #25
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    Default Paddle sides

    I'm very right handed, but find it most comfortable to paddle on my left - Tandem partners have commented that there's a definate increase in power when I switch to this side. I white water however (esp when it starts to go pear-shaped!) I definately favour my right side, since I feel far more in control there.

    Seems that my right orientation means that the right hand side is favoured in situations requiring power input because the right hand provides more of that, but situations requiring more input from the top "control" hand seem to favour the right hand being in that role.

    Mostly I switch around to even things out - until things get out of shape anyway.
    Rhod

  26. #26
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    I'm right handed and normally paddle on my right as a damaged shoulder makes keeping my right shoulder up uncomfortable. I'm definitely more powerful on my left, so tend to switch to this side for short burst of power when needed. I also try to paddle on the left occassionally to practice, but only after I've warmed up a bit.

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