ACTIVE PREVENTION and recovery from shoulder injuries:
First of all I would like to say thank you SO much to all the people that helped me get to the World Championships. I could not have had such an amazing experience without everyone who helped me by showing their love and support.
This past summer, I trained harder than ever to make the U.S. freestyle kayaking team. My hard work paid off, and I placed 3rd in the men’s division at team trials and qualified for the team. Next thing I knew; it was time to get ready for the world championships in Argentina!
Being a full time college student and working a job on campus, I sacrificed most of my free time training for worlds. I would try to paddle at least 3 times a week and workout on the off-days. I thought I was in the best shape of my life! Little did I know, there were more important things I could have been doing for my kayaking career and overall health of my body (I will get into this later).
I arrived in Argentina, feeling better and healthier than ever. I had some of my personal best rides on the days leading up to the competition. I looked at my friend Hunter on the bank of the river and told him “One-more ride” and paddled in for my last-ride of training. I went for a move I had done hundreds of times and something went wrong. I reached back to grab the water with my paddle and felt my shoulder explode. I made it to shore to find out my shoulder was dislocated.
I owe a huge thanks to Stephen Wright, Hunter Katich, and Todd McGinnis for popping my shoulder back in for me; and another massive thank you to Phil Sheppard, Jessie Stone, and Stephanie Donnelly for being my therapists and doctors for the weekend!
It was very hard to keep my chin-up through this experience considering I couldn’t really use my left arm and therefore probably could not compete. After some hard thinking and praying, and despite my shoulder pain and vulnerability to dislocate again, I chose to still compete at worlds. I had barely any power in my left arm and I could feel my shoulders instability, so I planned a special ride that would keep my shoulder in the safest positions possible. I was so happy when I dropped in on competition day and was able to lay down the ride that I had drawn up! My ride of 1060 points placed me into the top 15 and advanced me on to the next round. Although I wasn’t able to do my originally-planned World Championships ride, and I did not advance onto semi-finals, I was just so happy to have been able to compete considering my injury.
I still had an amazing time competing at Worlds and enjoying my first time out of the country!
Competing at worlds with my bum-shoulder!
—Recovery and Prevention—
I wanted to share this story with everyone because I don’t want this to happen to anyone else. It’s a terrible feeling to have worked so hard for something, only to have an injury stop you from being able to perform at your potential. This is also a terrible thing for someone paddling (or doing any other sport) as a past time because it puts you out for a few months to over a year, and affect you for much longer.
I have made this video to show the exercises and tips-and-tricks that helped me get back in my kayak after the injury. I did these exercises multiple times each week, with my shoulder slowly feeling better and better, until the 2018 kayaking season. I had my best season yet despite my dislocated shoulder just months before, and I believe it is all due to these rehabilitation and prevention exercises. Make sure you are doing these a couple times each week to prevent injury!!!
—-The shoulder workout video is at the top of this page—-
Every exercise needs to be done in 3 or 4 sets of 15 reps about 2 times a week.
Here are several pictures of my favorite kayaking season so far AFTER the injury:
Thanks for reading this. Keep those shoulders healthy and I will see you out on the river!