Can’t win, shouldn’t even try.

Early on in my attempts to become a kayak racer, I encountered some elbow pain and got very discouraged. But after a while it settled down to a level that I could manage by taking way more Alieve (Naproxen Sodium) than any doctor would recommend. (Yeah, my kidneys will probably explode some year, but unlike chronic joint pain, doctors know how to treat that.)

I’ve been paddling a hell of a lot, and so far I’ve had no increase in elbow pain over last year – if anything I’m taking less Alieve than before.

But I’ve been paddling the same paddle, a Basca VIII-max, since I first learned how to paddle a wing paddle. It’s a good paddle, but very large. I’ve lately been wondering if there might be some advantages to a smaller blade. One thing about the VIII-max is that it’s so long it doesn’t get “buried” entirely in the water at the catch, but gets progressively more blade in the water as the stroke progresses. I consider that’s probably a good thing for my joints, but experienced paddlers like Dan and Jim keep nagging me about it. So I borrowed a Basca IV clone (I think it’s a Danny Broadhurst, but it doesn’t have any identifying marks on it) from Dan, and I paddled it yesterday for about 15 km. Jim kept telling me my catch looked very strong.

Today my elbows are sorer than they’ve ever been, and my shoulders are in agony. I’ve never had shoulder problems before. This is not a good thing – so far in my life, every time I’ve developed a new joint pain it has not gone away or even abated, ever. Starting with knee pain 35 fucking years ago. Every pain only gets worse. So I view a new joint pain with some alarm.

Needless to say, I won’t be paddling the IV again. I just hope that my shoulders forgive me when I go back to my nice gentle catch with the VIII-max. Mean time, I’m taking an unplanned day off of paddling, and gobbling the Alieve and Tylenol.