I think it's another thing you have to get in shape for, or work your way up to. It's all about perfecting technique that allows you to apply the most power. Your arms got more tired holding them in a different position because you're using new muscles at a higher level. If you paddle often enough to get those muscles in shape, that part will be fine. Other than that, you're right, practice makes perfect. You were slower and not tracking straight, so it's obvious enough that good technique wasn't there.
Bent elbows don't cause shoulder injury. Having your shoulder rolled back with your arm extended straight is where you really put stress on the shoulders. So be careful not to substitute rolling your shoulder back in its joint while rolling the opposite shoulder forward in its joint as a substitute for actual torso rotation. If your shoulder is rolled back, you would be better off with a bent elbow than with a straight arm as far as shoulder injury is concerned.
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