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  • Fitness for Kayaking – Developing the ABC’s of Movement

    May 11th, 2020

    Our collective efforts during the Alert Level 4 Lockdown period have led to some easing of restrictions. For lucky paddlers they have been able to get their white water fix since moving to Alert Level 3 but for many this will only occur after the shift to Alert Level 2.

    Continuing on from our previous post which focused on improving core strength and stability this week we will be focusing on developing the ABC’s of movement which are Agility, Balance and Co-Ordination.

    Why do I want to develop my Agility, Balance and Co-Ordination?

    Research has shown that the athletic ability of any individual is based on their foundational development of their Agility, Balance and Co-Ordination. These three things are the cornerstones of athletic development and physical literacy. If we want to do anything from catch a ball to run our local river with style we have to develop the basics to do so.

    Photo of Tutea Falls on the Kaituna River by Mike Robertson. Showing all of the ABC’s in action.

    What does Agility, Balance and Co-Ordination mean?

    Agility is defined as the ability to move in multiple directions at speed. To be able to change direction and also having the ability to accelerate and decelerate as quickly and efficiently as possible. We know as a white water kayakers that when moving from one place to another we need to be agile. The stop, start and change of direction for the body is critical for paddlers to move into different positions. This could be going from a bow rudder into a forward paddle stroke, from stern rudder into draw. The ability to stop moving to hold position and then move again is critical for us to be agile.

    Balance is defined as the ability to control your body in its own space. We could go more scientific, but for me, it’s better to keep things simple. When on a river being able manage your balance while paddling will undoubtedly aid you in your development, as the water changes we need to be able to stay upright whilst being able to move through a range of movements. By being able to change how we sit then we can work to have our centre of gravity over the base or by use of the paddle or more importantly using the stability that we get from moving and by adding in positive connection points we maintain our balance throughout a manoeuvre.

    Coordination is when all parts of the body are in agreement to perform a skill or a task. We are continually using multiple parts of our body to help achieve / maintain our balance. Think back to the critical move that you must make on your local river and how you must coordinate upper and lower body movements. If these movements are correctly coordinated with the necessary agility then we can maintain our balance and will normally have a successful outcome.

    How can we develop our ABC’s?

    This may all seem very complicated and you mightn’t be sure exactly what how you can develop it but it is pretty easy. It doesn’t matter whether you are a young up and coming white water kayaker or seasoned pro you can still work on developing these skills following the programme below:

    Start out with a gentle run for about 5-10 minutes to get yourself warmed up:

    Sled Pull

    Push Up

    Squat

    Lunge

    Single Leg Deadlift

    Medicine Ball Rotations

    To complete these exercises you don’t need any fancy equipment, instead of using a sled just hook your kayak up to a throw rope and drag it across your garden and if you don’t have a medicine ball a stone will work just as well just throw it across your garden instead of against a wall.

    How many how long?

    Depending on your level of base fitness you may want to start off slow aiming to complete around 6-10 repetitions of each exercise or between 20-30 seconds and aim for 1-3 rounds depending on how it feels.

    Once you start to feel more comfortable with the circuit you can start increase the reps by 2-4 of each exercise or increase the length by 10-20 seconds or aim to complete more rounds.

    You want to try and complete this circuit anywhere from 1-3 times per week to really try and improve your agility, balance and co-ordination for when it is time to get back in a boat!

    Make sure to check in next week when we will be releasing an article looking at how you can brush up on your safety skills during this Lockdown.

    These paddling fitness articles have been put together by Matt McKnight, Matt is professional Canoe Slalom coach and a keen whitewater paddler. 

  • Whitewater at Level 2

    May 11th, 2020

    On Thursday (14th May) NZ will move into Level 2 Pandemic Alert. Whilst some lucky paddlers were able to get a whitewater fix during the Level 3 Alert over the past couple of weeks, for most of us the shift to Level 2 is likely to be our first chance to get back out on the water.

    There is still a risk of community transmission of the virus, which means that we can’t simply go back to paddling as usual. So, please don’t rush into this, play it safe and follow these guidelines for whitewater paddling during the Level 2 Alert:

    1. Transmission of the virus is most likely whilst travelling in a vehicle, so plan this carefully. Here are some things you can do to reduce the transmission risk while driving shuttles and driving to / from a river trip:
      1. Drive to and from the river by yourself or create an expanded “shuttle bubble”, and stick to this grouping whilst driving (and on the river, if possible)
      2. Drive with windows open
      3. Use good personal hygiene whilst sharing a car
    2. Stay well within your skill level to reduce the likelihood of needing emergency services.
    3. Paddle in small groups and try to keep your group exclusive 
    4. Keep a record of who you paddle with
    5. Use physical distancing wherever possible, particularly at the put-in and take-out, where other people may be present
    6. Avoid touching each other’s gear, and if this is not possible, disinfect or use hand sanitiser as quickly as possible
    7. Overnight trips are OK as long as 1m physical distancing is maintained
    8. If you are sick, have any respiratory, cold or flu-like symptoms, do not go paddling

    Advice for clubs:

    Small public gatherings are allowed at Level 2, so club activities can take place. However, please follow the rules above and create a documented safety plan including the following points:

    1. Use Sport New Zealand’s Touch Free Contact Register to record all group participants in club actuivities
    2. Participants should have no respiratory symptoms and should have had no contact with others with respiratory symptoms in the two weeks prior to the trip
    3. Four days after the trip, the Trip Leader should check with all trip participants for any respiratory symptoms and notify everybody on the trip if symptoms are observed.
    4. Disinfect any shared equipment in the same way as you would to prevent the spread of Didymo

    Please be mindful that for many of us, we’ve not been out on the water for a while, so we may be out of practice. That means taking extra precautions around rescue provisions and general river safety.

     Use your common sense – don’t rush into this, play it safe and be kind!

  • Fitness for Kayaking – Core Strength

    April 22nd, 2020
    Paddlers: Kenny Mutton and Seth Ashworth
    Photo: Redwood Photos

    We are currently experiencing a time of great uncertainty due to COVID-19. Our current landscape has been dramatically changed with alterations to how we work, play, exercise, socialise and live. Over the coming weeks’ WWNZ are putting together a number of articles covering things that we can do during this Lockdown Period to improve ourselves so that when we can return to the water we will return stronger.

    Our first article will be focusing on improving Core Strength and Stability

    Many people think that paddling is all having a strong upper body, think back to the conversations where people say oh you must have massive arms or shoulders to do that.  When in fact the most fundamental body part involved in kayaking is having a strong core. When you can unlock the power within your core muscles you will be able to generate more speed or drive in the boat, be able to paddle for longer, improve your balance and posture within the boat and this may even lead to advances in your technique.

    What is the Core?

    When people think of their core muscles they often think about that perfect 6-pack but your abs are so much more than that. They are made up of many muscles, including your rectus abdominis (what you think of when you think “abs”), transverse abdominis (the deepest internal core muscle that wraps around your sides and spine), erector spinae (a set of muscles in your lower back), and the internal and external obliques (the muscles on the sides of your abdomen).

    Exercises

    Below we have outlined a circuit style workout that can be done using minimum resources all you need is some space.

    Exercise 1 – Side Plank Right

    Exercise 2 – Side Plank Left

    Exercise 3 – Double Leg Bridge

    Exercise 4 – Leg Raises

    Exercise 5 – Russian Twists

    Exercise 6 – Superman

    Exercise 7 – Window Wipers

    Exercise 8 – Dynamic Plank

    How Many? How Long?

    Depending on your level of base fitness you may want to start off slow aiming to complete around 6-10 repetitions of each exercise or between 20-30 seconds and aim for 1-3 rounds depending on how it feels.

    Once you start to feel more comfortable with the circuit you can start increase the reps by 2-4 of each exercise or increase the length by 10-20 seconds or aim to complete more rounds.

    You want to try and complete this circuit anywhere from 2-4 times per week to really try and strengthen that core for when it is time to get back in a boat!

    Make sure to check in next week when we will be releasing an article looking at how to increase your balance and co-ordination on during this Lockdown.

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