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To the general public, and new boaters too, the thought is that kayaking is back dominant. It’s not until you start to navigate whitewater rivers and you start spending more time on the water that you realize kayaking is, in fact, a full body activity.

Maintaining hip strength and flexibility is a big part of becoming a more proficient kayaker. Hip strength is important for lifting your bow (think boofing) as well as edging your boat (think technical moves or surfing a wave) and, most importantly, rolling. You can’t roll without a hip snap!

Hip flexibility is important, for without it you can’t lift your bow as high, you can’t maneuver your boat in technical rapids as efficiently, and your roll slows down. It can also lead to injury while rolling as you wind up putting more tension and strain on your back. I have even met many people that have pulled their groins trying to roll because they were too tight. Ouch.

I’ve been asked to do a write up on “hip flexors and kayaking.” Most people always want to be stronger. Of course we do! We believe stronger is better- and it is- but it only makes a difference when you have the flexibility to go along with it. As an exercise physiologist I want to make the point that your hip flexors are said to be one of the stronger muscles in the body. They also regularly remain the tightest.

Hip flexors help in kayaking for:
Holding your angle on waterfalls
Tucking while getting window shaded
Tucking while being drug along the rocks on the riverbed
Portaging rapids that are scary.
Portaging rapids that you think are scary but really aren’t
Portaging rapids that your friends want you to run but you have no intention of running and so you wait on them to enter the rapid and then you walk it.
And so much more…

Because a few of you fellow paddlers asked me about training the hip flexors I put together some strengthening exercises for your hip flexors and the front of your hips. I also (sorry I can’t help it) put together an additional video of hip stretching exercises.

My recommendation is to add the big hip strengthening exercises, such as lunges, a couple of times a week into your program but keep the smaller movement exercises (band pulls) to once a week. Stretching can be done daily.

As always if you have any questions send them my way! I’m always happy to help!