How I saved my shoulders for long paddles.

Pupu2Since I can no longer run due to a knee injury, I have to get my cardio in other ways. This summer I’ve been spending my Wednesday mornings on the water leading a weekly “Power Paddle.” We start at 8am at the Mission Bay Sportcenter at a swift pace, glide under one of the Ingraham Street bridges, speed around Paradise Point Island, float under the second Ingraham Street bridge, and land back to the Sportcenter. Depending on wind, waves and weather, this can take 50-75 minutes, and that’s if you’re going as fast as you can! It’s a tough paddle and first-timers are often left in the dust, er, foam. Paddle experience is highly recommended, in addition to at least one forward stroke and turn lesson prior to joining this type of group paddle.

The first 5 or 6 times I did this route, my shoulders were screaming at me for a few days after. This could be partly because of forward stroke mis-alignment, or because I was using an old, all-around, used-up, heavy, ugly adjustable paddle. While I think stroke can always be improved upon, I think in this case it was more so my paddle. I figured it out after a friend of mine sold me her Kialoa Pupu Paddle. (Thanks Anna!) Despite the dirty-sounding name (which really means “appetizer” because it is a great paddle for beginners), it has made a world of difference on these longer, powerful, morning paddles. It weighs under 2 pounds, is made of fiberglass, and glides out of the water effortlessly. I’ve had zero shoulder pain since using it, and as a bonus, it’s really cute!

While the Pupu is an older model, the Kialoa brand has new fiberglass paddle models that are great for entry-level paddlers, such as the Insanity paddle, that may even be more developed for a quality stroke than the Pupu. These start at $179, which is very affordable considering the cost of a lot of the really good stand up paddles these days!  Check them out at: www.Kialoa.com.

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