Training, Necessary Equipment and Potential Health Benefits
October 11, 2011
Man mastered the art of rowing and paddling long before the invention of steam engines. This was followed with the invention of various water sport and recreational activities. Kayak racing is one of the best known of these water sports. As a kayaker you have to build upper body strength to challenge the elements. This is because in addition to battling against strong water currents you would also be battling strong winds as well. However, strength alone would not be the only requirement you would need to be an effective water sports athlete. You would need to invest in strength training in order to build up the necessary endurance.
• The Muscles Involved
Before you start with any kind of sport, it is important to know the muscles that you will be using. In addition to upper body strength and endurance, you would need to have a flexible torso. This does not mean neglecting the lower body. Failure to maintain adequate fitness levels will lead to injuries. These are the muscles that you will need to exercise for optimum performance in the water:
1. All the muscles of the arms. This includes everything from biceps to the forearm.
2. The core muscles. This includes the obliques and the spinal erectors.
3. Ensure that the chest and shoulder muscles are well exercised.
4. Lastly the muscles of the upper back are crucial as well.
• How To Train The Muscles
To get the best while in the water and avoid nasty injuries there are some exercises that you would need to do. While at the gym, make sure that you take some time at the cable machine. Perform repetitive rope pull downs while leaning forward at an angle of 45 degrees. You should pull the rope while bent forward until your elbows touch your thighs. It is recommended to complete three sets of ten repetitions each.
If in doubt about the technique involved, ask the resident gym instructor. Another type of exercises that would help you to improve your core strength involves using a medicine ball. Some of the recommended routines include sit ups, moving the ball from side to side and passing the ball to a training partner. You can include other routines that improve your core strength. This is very important if you want to enjoy kayak racing without suffering nasty injuries.
Now that you know the muscles involved and the exercises that will strengthen your core, it is time to look at the types of kayaks. There are many types of kayaks for you to choose from depending on the type of kayaking you will be involved in. If you intend to go kayaking in an ocean then you would need a different type of kayak from someone who would wish to go kayaking in the Grand Canyon. Likewise, someone who wants to go fishing will require something different from someone who intends to hit fast rivers. In general, most kayaks today are made from plastic or fiberglass. The following are some of the advantages of using a kayak made from fiber glass.
Advantages Of Fiberglass Kayaks
1. Faster in water
Due to the fact that they are lighter than plastic kayaks, fiberglass kayaks glide through water more easily. The hulls are also coated with gel which reduces resistance while in water. This also means that they are faster compared to plastic kayaks.
2. Lighter than plastic kayaks
Because fiberglass is lighter than plastic, it makes handling and maneuvering much easier. If you have to pack for a trip it makes the work of taking the kayak to the waters edge much easier. Their lightweight advantage increases efficiency during competitions or if you plan on some long distance kayaking.
3. More durable
Advances in technology have led to the incorporation of Kevlar composites into fiberglass. This in turn means they are more durable than plastic kayaks.
Now that you know the difference about fiberglass and plastic kayaks it is important to look at the types of different kayaks used for different events.
• Kayaks For Racing
These are purposely made for professional racing competitions. In the hands of someone who is not quite experienced, they might feel unstable. This is because they are very narrow and long to reduce resistance and increase speed. If you are not yet skilled with kayaks then you should avoid racing kayaks until you get some experience.
• Kayaks For Fishing
These are made to reach those fjords and nooks where fish hide. Fishing vessels are designed to be very stable and kayaks for fishing are generally designed wide to provide the necessary stability. This ensures that they do not keel over and capsize while you are reeling in fish. You can rig your fishing kayak with all kinds of fishing gear. You would only limited by your imagination. You can do some online research to find out what kind of gear other fishing enthusiasts fit on their kayaks.
• Kayaks For Pleasure And Leisure
These are kayaks made with ease of handling in mind. If you just want to take a lazy and quiet paddle in the river or lake, this is the right option. Their wide cross section and comfortable seating area have made them quite popular with water sport enthusiasts. If you would like to do some sightseeing or bird watching while floating downstream, this is the type of kayak you should go for.
• Kayaks For White Water Rafting
If you would like to inject some thrill and fun into your water sport activities, this is the kayak to go for. In order to handle the rough tumbling into pools and over rocks, they are made from tough, rigid plastics that can handle the impact. To improve handling, they are also shorter than most types of kayaks. Depending on the type of white water kayaking you intend to engage in, you can get the right type either online or from shops that stock kayaks.
• Kayaks Which Are Inflatable
This is the perfect type if you would like to go hiking up a mountain and float your way downstream. You do not have to worry about power to inflate your kayak; you can do that in a few minutes with your hands. These types of kayaks are made from durable materials with multiple air compartments to ensure safety. If you are new to kayaking you will find inflatable kayaks very easy to control and master. You can use them to hone your water skills before graduating to something that requires some bit of skill to handle.
This list is by no means exhaustive of the types of kayaks you will encounter out there, but should be used as a guide. Now that you know what to expect in terms of training and types of kayaks out there, it is time to take a look at the health benefits. Kayak racing like any other type of recreational or full time sport, has the advantage of packing substantial health benefits. Kayaking is categorized as a low impact sport. You stand to gain all the benefits that aerobics training imparts. These include;
• Weight Loss
It has been estimated that for every five miles per hour you do, you use about 400 calories per hour. So if you spend an afternoon in the water, you stand to lose an impressive 1700 calories. This makes all other weight loss programs pale in comparison.
• Full Upper Body Training
The simple act of executing a single paddle stroke exercises each upper body muscle. Studies have shown that on average you will do 500 strokes for every mile covered. If you do four miles an hour, you will go through 2000 repetitions. It doesn’t matter whether you are a professional athlete or not, you will have a body to kill for within no time.
• Improve Your Mental Well Being
There are numerous studies that have shown that exercise greatly improves your mental faculties. Being outdoors with the water and breeze as your companions would surely leave you feeling invigorated and refreshed. If your stress levels are substantially low, it goes without saying that your productivity at work will be better.
In addition to the health benefits mentioned above, you would reduce the probability of joint problems and improve your overall cardiovascular fitness. According to Two kayaking experts Betsy foster and Karen knight, incorporating Tai Chi into your routine can be beneficial. According to the two, Tai Chi can improve your stability as well as balance. This can go along way in helping someone who is just starting out. This can also help experienced kayakers who want to cut down on bobbing. This can be the difference between the gold medal and being a participant in the Olympics.
• Your Kit Before You Hit The Water
It is important to be fully prepared before you go out in your kayak. You do not want to find that you forgot to carry fresh water when you are miles out at sea. Some of the things you might need include;
a. A life jacket. This is a must and should never be left behind
b. Helmet and wet suit
c. Never forget to have a spray deck. It will keep the water from flooding your kayak.
d. First aid kit.
e. Some energy bars.
f. If you can get a waterproof mobile phone and spare batteries the better.
g. Flares and distress signals if you are going out to sea.
h. Navigation aids.
This is not an exhaustive list but a guide. Whatever your intentions are, put safety first and you will find kayak racing a very thrilling sport.