How To Prevent Common Dragon Boat Injuries

By Chrissy Wessman, Co-Founder of Gushou

It’s easy to get caught up in it all. You show up to practice for the first time and before you know it, you love dragon boating so much that you pour yourself into training. Of course, on your way to becoming a better paddler you must consistently put in the strokes; to learn technique and to build the strength and muscle patterns needed to be effective in the water. Your body will be tasked with a one sided, unbalanced and somewhat confined movement over and over and over and over and…. You get the picture. While you’re becoming more proficient at paddling, getting fit, and making friends, it is easy to forget the more mundane exercises that balance this passion of yours. This results in body imbalances and injuries that can set you back in paddling as well as regular life activities.

But it doesn’t have to.

From decades of competitive sport including gymnastics, sprint canoe, and dragon boat, I understand how debilitating sport injuries can be. The frustrating part about it is it’s actually preventable!

Khanh VyTo get a head start on dragon boat specific injury prevention exercises, I engaged the help of Khanh Vy, a trusted dragon boat trainer, Certified Athletic Therapist, Registered Kinesiologist, Conditioning Specialist, and Personal Trainer. Here is what he had to say:

Q: In general terms, what is the best way to stay injury free?

A: Generally, the best way to stay injury free when starting up a program is to be progressive. Do not jump into a program aggressively. Ease into the program so that your body can make the necessary adaptations. Tissues get damaged because the stress is too much, too fast and the recovery time is insufficient.”

Q: Have you worked with many dragon boaters? What kind of things have you worked on and have you seen positive results?

A: Yes, I have worked with many dragon boaters and at various levels from beginner to elite. One of the main things I work on is building max strength and power. Teaching the body how to utilize maximal strength and power in the weight room carries very well into the boat.

Q: As paddlers are starting back on the water, can you share one or two exercises that they could do for injury prevention?

A: Shoulders are one of the main joints injured in dragon boat, specifically the rotator cuff muscles. The link below will address a few of the rotator cuff muscles – specifically infraspinatus, supraspinatus, and teres minor. As you get stronger with the Y, T, Ws, increase your reps to 15x, 3 sets and weight by .5lbs. Remember to perform the YTWs in a slow and controlled manner.

Video screen grab
Click HERE to watch full video.

There isn’t enough time to allocate to these exercises you say? Well I say, make time! It’s easier and quicker to take 5-10 minutes to do injury prevention exercises before or after practice or at lunch time than to have to take weeks or months off of paddling altogether. 

Just do it, it’s that important!

Are you interested in more exercises? Do you have specific questions for Khanh? Let us know in the comment section below!

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