Fall in East Tennessee means cooler weather, getting out warm sweaters and boots, and beautiful fall color changes sweeping the mountains. What it also means for us is a little less time out on the water, but even though we aren’t rafting as much, we aren’t letting all our hard work from this past summer go to waste! When tackling the whitewater courses with a raft or kayak, having the strength and flexibility to control your craft through the rapids is essential, and having the stamina to take on long courses is necessary to progress in the sport. Of course, the physical gains will also build your confidence on the water, which doesn’t just make you more prepared, it will help you have more fun!
For kayakers and rafters, strength, stamina, and flexibility are essential for getting through a tough river course. We’ll be discussing all of those below. Always consult with your doctor before beginning any type of exercise regimen, but once you’re cleared for exercise, try out a few of these to get ready for a spring and summer full of paddling!
When building up strength in your upper and lower body, remember to start small, and have a spotter when you move up to heavier weights. Also, it’s good to remember that we’re training for functional fitness, not aesthetic. It’s great to look good, but the goal here is to have muscles that we can actually use for paddling and kayaking.
Having a strong core will help you twist and turn with the rapids. You’ll need these muscles well developed to be able to control your craft! This is more than just doing sit ups, though, for a strong core, the entire trunk - front and back - needs to be well developed. Overtraining your abs could cause your lower back to be weak, and vice versa.
For strengthening your core, planks, supermans and other stability exercises are great for building muscles throughout the core. Try out this workout for all-around strengthening.
Because getting out on the water just isn’t feasible during the winter, cardiovascular exercises are a great way to keep your legs strong, your stamina up, and your mind focused on an activity for longer periods of time.
Stretching is an important part of the recovery process, and the recovery is what really drives muscle growth. Yoga, while included in this section, really does build strength, stamina, and flexibility all at the same time! If you’re new to yoga, be careful to not over-extend yourself. Use modifications when possible and listen to your body. If it tells you you’re going too deep into a pose- listen to it! Here is a great routine that is specifically designed to help prevent common kayaking injuries.
Prioritizing fitness this winter will really pay off during the rafting season, but please be sure to consult your doctor before beginning any exercise routine. We’ll see you on the water!