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How to Connect the Core While Paddling

Lately we’ve been getting a lot of questions on how to activate the whole body to make paddling more efficient and more fruitful! We’ve been studying a lot of clients with our remote video coaching and working in person on the water and one thing is standing out. At the initiation of the forward stroke, it’s imperative to be in a stance that will engage from head to toe. If this position is compromised then instability, inefficiency, and lack of power will result. The one puzzle piece that is missing for most is being forward with knees and upper torso.


1. If your hips go back BEFORE your reach then you have effectively blown the ability to use your lower torso to engage. Visualize this; if you have two opposite directions of travel with your body, it’s like the saying “who’s on first?”!

2. Just using the upper torso with straight shins disengages the glutes, hamstrings, and quads as well as the gastrocnemius and soleus calf muscles.

3. If the lower torsos’ bigger muscles are turned off, then the foot muscles will go into overdrive trying to compensate. This results in mild to moderate foot and toe cramping along with being stiff legged.

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1. Knees bend forward appropriately at the initiation to link the whole body. This lines up your center of mass in the frontal plane and contributes to forward stroke excellence.

2. Cut back on your bottom arm reach so it doesn’t override your lower torso effectiveness, control, and strength.

3. Make sure your angles front and back and side to side are exemplary. Not practicing precision and discipline in these areas is a huge way to not improve.

4. Don’t try and think your way into the correction. FEEL IT!

All of the above requires touch, impulse, feel, and fluidity. It’s not back and white. If you have trouble linking it together, consider taking a professional performance stand up paddling lesson! Life is short get better sooner and have more fun!

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