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Forward Stroke


leong

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I took a free lesson from this guy about 12 years ago. I think this video says it all about which footpeg to push on:

I have nothing more to say on this topic.

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Leon:

Thought I would ask these questions on this thread for obvious reasons.

Do you have the footpeg distances set the same for touring and racing and how much bend in your leg do you have when the leg is relaxed and/or at end of stroke? Along the same line, does the angle of your foot change during the stroke and what angle do you find best for long distance paddling?

Regarding hip rotation, I take it you find (as do I) the "frog" leg position into which some seats and cockpit configurations seem to force a paddler not helpful for good hip rotation. I think of the test of hip rotation as whether or not you can feel the sit bones "pivoting" and seems the body mechanics are poor for doing this with legs splayed.

Seems to me a relatively slick and flat seat as opposed to tractor seatpan is more conducive to decent leg position and hip rotation. A foam seat seems to add enough friction to be a factor as well.

I assume the cycling leg technique is more effective even at relaxed touring speeds than simply applying pressure on the footpegs without using leg movement. Not sure whether this increase in efficiency would make a difference unless long days and multiple days were spent in boat, but seems the technique is a worthwhile goal even for non-racers. I wonder to what extent the assumption we need constant thigh contact for control during routine paddling is restricting our forward stroke. Seems to me having at least a couple of inches clearance when the leg is relaxed is a reasonable balance between having space to cycle the legs and being able to obtain firm contact on the thigh braces when necessary.

Ed Lawson

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Leon:

Thought I would ask these questions on this thread for obvious reasons.

Do you have the footpeg distances set the same for touring and racing and how much bend in your leg do you have when the leg is relaxed and/or at end of stroke? Along the same line, does the angle of your foot change during the stroke and what angle do you find best for long distance paddling?

Regarding hip rotation, I take it you find (as do I) the "frog" leg position into which some seats and cockpit configurations seem to force a paddler not helpful for good hip rotation. I think of the test of hip rotation as whether or not you can feel the sit bones "pivoting" and seems the body mechanics are poor for doing this with legs splayed.

Seems to me a relatively slick and flat seat as opposed to tractor seatpan is more conducive to decent leg position and hip rotation. A foam seat seems to add enough friction to be a factor as well.

I assume the cycling leg technique is more effective even at relaxed touring speeds than simply applying pressure on the footpegs without using leg movement. Not sure whether this increase in efficiency would make a difference unless long days and multiple days were spent in boat, but seems the technique is a worthwhile goal even for non-racers. I wonder to what extent the assumption we need constant thigh contact for control during routine paddling is restricting our forward stroke. Seems to me having at least a couple of inches clearance when the leg is relaxed is a reasonable balance between having space to cycle the legs and being able to obtain firm contact on the thigh braces when necessary.

Ed Lawson

“Do you have the footpeg distances set the same for touring and racing and how much bend in your leg do you have when the leg is relaxed and/or at end of stroke?”

With the Impulse I don’t change the footpeg distance except to accommodate the thickness of a wetsuit and/or other clothing. With the Epic, I’m still experimenting. For a race, or an all out training run around Cape Ann in the Epic, I bring the foot bar in so that my knees are up about 3 or 4 inches (I think) in the relaxed position and I keep my feet close to the middle of the footbar. My biggest problem is moving my thighs/knees apart fast to grip the combing in heavy bounce to avoid a capsize, or be able to roll up if I do go over.

“Along the same line, does the angle of your foot change during the stroke and what angle do you find best for long distance paddling?”

With the footbar I push from the balls of my feet. My toes are used for steering. The footbar is slightly tilted forward in the Epic so I think my feet are at about the same angle (probably tilted forward 15 degrees beyond vertical). Lisa is more of an expert with leg pumping since that’s the only way that she has ever paddled. I came from a more touring sea kayak background.

“Regarding hip rotation, I take it you find (as do I) the "frog" leg position into which some seats and cockpit configurations seem to force a paddler not helpful for good hip rotation.”

Yes, of course.

“I think of the test of hip rotation as whether or not you can feel the sit bones "pivoting" and seems the body mechanics are poor for doing this with legs splayed.”

Agreed.

“Seems to me a relatively slick and flat seat as opposed to tractor seatpan is more conducive to decent leg position and hip rotation. A foam seat seems to add enough friction to be a factor as well.”

I’m not sure. For instance, the KayakPro Nemo/Marlin has a very comfortable bucket type seat and an Olympic paddler designed it. A foam seat will definitely reduce rotation, but you can cover it with smooth plastic.

“I assume the cycling leg technique is more effective even at relaxed touring speeds than simply applying pressure on the footpegs without using leg movement. Not sure whether this increase in efficiency would make a difference unless long days and multiple days were spent in boat, but seems the technique is a worthwhile goal even for non-racers.”

Agreed. But when I go on group paddles I don’t rotate much or leg pump much; otherwise, my slowest speed is too fast.

“I wonder to what extent the assumption we need constant thigh contact for control during routine paddling is restricting our forward stroke. Seems to me having at least a couple of inches clearance when the leg is relaxed is a reasonable balance between having space to cycle the legs and being able to obtain firm contact on the thigh braces when necessary.”

Probably, but with my Impulse, to get the clearance, I need to keep my legs almost straight out. Then I’m forced to use my toes to push. Lisa has enough room in my Impulse (even though it has thigh braces) to leg pump.

Note that I’m not an expert on efficient paddling. I probably overcome the lack of an optimal stroke by using very powerful strokes.

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I don't have very much to add. Some of my answers to the "what do you do" questions are different simply because I'm smaller and my cockpit is different.

“Do you have the footpeg distances set the same for touring and racing and how much bend in your leg do you have when the leg is relaxed and/or at end of stroke?”

I always use the footbar at the same place. My legs are bent enough to make little lumps in the sprayskirt. That's about 5" or so, I think. I have no thigh braces in my boat, but because I have relatively short legs, my knees can be up in most cockpits I've ever tried - sometimes it's close though. The unhappy flip side of this is that if I try to use your average thigh braces I end up with them hitting me in the kneecap.

“Along the same line, does the angle of your foot change during the stroke and what angle do you find best for long distance paddling?”

The foot angle is a little like softly marching on the balls of my feet. Unfortunately, it's not unlike walking in high heels (as I remember from my distant past). OK if I'm just tooling around, but gets painful on long fast runs. Changing away from the rounded SmartTrack footpegs helped a lot.

“Regarding hip rotation, I take it you find (as do I) the "frog" leg position into which some seats and cockpit configurations seem to force a paddler not helpful for good hip rotation.”

Yes. I have heard it said that the current conventional outfitting wisdom is to not wedge yourself in too tightly for this very reason. I don't think that means you can't sit frog-legged, just maybe not too tight.

“Seems to me a relatively slick and flat seat as opposed to tractor seatpan is more conducive to decent leg position and hip rotation. A foam seat seems to add enough friction to be a factor as well.”

I think the best seat has enough bucket to support your tailbone region so that you don't need a backband. It's much easier to sit up straight if you have a little rise at the back of the seat.

“I wonder to what extent the assumption we need constant thigh contact for control during routine paddling is restricting our forward stroke. Seems to me having at least a couple of inches clearance when the leg is relaxed is a reasonable balance between having space to cycle the legs and being able to obtain firm contact on the thigh braces when necessary.”

I think it depends a lot on what you do. I hardly ever put knees under, but I hardly ever surf or do rock play either. That being said, yes, I think a little looseness is a good thing.

-Lisa

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about the video...

the fellow seems to think that pushing with his right leg is giving him rotation.

I am sure he has good form and what not

but

watch his left leg

it is the raising of that knee that allows him the rotation.

Pushing with the leg gives him plenty of strength, but that of itself just pushes your butt back in the seat.

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The unhappy flip side of this is that if I try to use your average thigh braces I end up with them hitting me in the kneecap.

Getting a good thigh brace fit/location on boats with a keyhole cockpit often seems a hit or miss proposition. Which is a bummer when you like how the boat works for you, but cannot get a decent fit. To me one advantage of an ocean cockpit is the ability to create a foam masik in just the right location for effective thigh contact.

The foot angle is a little like softly marching on the balls of my feet.

Seems odd to me that foot pegs are vertical, yet our feet prefer to be slanted while sitting. I suppose it does not matter much if only the balls of the feet make contact, but I believe some angle would provide more comfort. Lately I have played with using a wedge with the foamed bulkhead to get a comfy angle. I suspect foam would not be good for racing as some energy would go into compressing the foam.

I think the best seat has enough bucket to support your tailbone region so that you don't need a backband. It's much easier to sit up straight if you have a little rise at the back of the seat.

Agree. To me the NDK and Impex seats are great for these reasons while some of the seats with bumps in the middle of the front and a large tilt force you into a frog position which may or may not be natural/comfy and hinder sitting up straight.

I think it depends a lot on what you do. I hardly ever put knees under, but I hardly ever surf or do rock play either.

I have been exploring, as a result of paddling a Greenland boat and after being cajoled by a coach, whether or not we really need to use our legs up against the thigh braces to lean a boat or for bumpy water. My impression is we need to do so a great deal less that the conventional wisdom.

Ed Lawson

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about the video...

the fellow seems to think that pushing with his right leg is giving him rotation.

I am sure he has good form and what not

but

watch his left leg

it is the raising of that knee that allows him the rotation.

Pushing with the leg gives him plenty of strength, but that of itself just pushes your butt back in the seat.

I guess everyone's different. When I started paddling many years ago, for a while, I arm paddled; i.e. I relied on my shoulders, biceps and triceps (I wasn’t even aware of rotation). But (to me) it felt natural to push against the footpeg (on the same side) to oppose pulling back on the paddle. Now that I rotate, I wind around far in the direction of the paddle entry and I find it even more natural to push the footpeg to unwind the rotation. In other words, I add some leg muscle to my trunk and arm muscles to increase the power of the unwinding. If you pushed with the other leg it would oppose the unwinding.

By the way, you probably know, but that’s Greg Barton, the first American to win Olympic gold medals in kayak sprinting; he’s the president of Epic kayaks. He’s a really nice guy. I was a little sheepish when I met him while I was paddling in my Eddyline Falcon 18. But he complimented this non-Epic kayak as well as my forward stroke and then showed me how to rotate from the spine.

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watch his left leg

it is the raising of that knee that allows him the rotation.

My SWAG

I agree the raising of the opposite knee facilitates the rotation or pivoting motion, but that does not mean it is providing force to the paddle.

Pushing with the leg gives him plenty of strength, but that of itself just pushes your butt back in the seat.

Another opinion and SWAG

This is why I dislike the term "pushing" in this context. I believe the sensation of "pushing" on the footpeg as just the resulting opposing force to the force applied to the paddle to move the boat and which is composed of force developed by the core, the leg as it straightens, and the arms. So it seems to me the force generated by the wet paddle side leg should not be pushing you back in the seat, aside from the effects of rotation, if the force is being applied to the paddle. Of course, maybe I have that all wrong.

Ed Lawson

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Seems odd to me that foot pegs are vertical, yet our feet prefer to be slanted while sitting. I suppose it does not matter much if only the balls of the feet make contact, but I believe some angle would provide more comfort. Lately I have played with using a wedge with the foamed bulkhead to get a comfy angle. I suspect foam would not be good for racing as some energy would go into compressing the foam.

Ed Lawson

I don't remember how it is with Lisa's Onno footbar, but my Epic footbar is tilted forward at a comfortable (for me) angle. Lisa was describing her old SmartTrack foot pegs, which she no longer uses.

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The resistance in the foam (hand cut custom) is a minor problem with most of what I wear.Does anyone have a good plastic product that will glue down to the foam?

Had Greg Barton blow right past me in the Blackburn while in my RBA (fast sea kayak)...best form I ever saw....Trust him and Leon

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It may seem odd or at least anomalous, but there is a good collection of stroke videos linked in a discussion on the QajaqUSA site in the Greenland Kayaking Forum concerning "exit balancing".

http://www.qajaqusa.org/cgi-bin/GreenlandTechniqueForum_config.pl?page=1;md=read;id=615200

Just thought they might be of interest. Leg cycling easy to see in the Ann video.

Ed Lawson

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<...a minor problem with most of what I wear.Does anyone have a good plastic product that will glue down to the foam?>

Paul, what about that plastic "paint" with which you can treat the handles of tools, as a protective coating? Cannot remember what it is called; but available at Home Depot or Lowe's in several colours: I believe it <does> adhere to foam and quite successfully. (There <was> someone in the club who did this, so I know it works; but he has long-since disappeared -- perhaps it is magic paint?)

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I agree the raising of the opposite knee facilitates the rotation or pivoting motion, but that does not mean it is providing force to the paddle...

But, but, but... I made this same mistake in an earlier post and got (correctly) bonged by Leon. You can't really separate rotation from providing force to the paddle. If you're doing it right the rotation is the force you give to the paddle. You transmit the trunk rotation through your arms and hands to the paddle, so anything you can do to amplify that rotation (including bending a leg) helps you go forward.

Of course, it's possible to do the rotation without the transmission. You can have lots of hip rotation and some trunk rotation but the shoulders can be lazy and break the chain. Or you can start unwinding before the whole paddle is in the water, a common mistake. Maybe that's what you meant. I think you can be sure, though, that isn't happening in Greg Barton's video!

-Lisa

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You can't really separate rotation from providing force to the paddle.

This is such an imperfect medium for conversation/discussion. Especially for someone like me who is not as precise as I should be. What I meant to say is the dry side leg as it rises during the stroke facilitates the rotation of the torso, but that leg is not a (big?) factor in producing the power applied to the paddle as the torso rotates compared to power derived from the wet side leg and core muscles. I agree the rotation cannot be separated from providing force to the paddle. I don't think the two concepts are at odds, but I understand why they seemed to be given my imperfect description.

Ed Lawson

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This is such an imperfect medium for conversation/discussion. Especially for someone like me who is not as precise as I should be. What I meant to say is the dry side leg as it rises during the stroke facilitates the rotation of the torso, but that leg is not a (big?) factor in producing the power applied to the paddle as the torso rotates compared to power derived from the wet side leg and core muscles. I agree the rotation cannot be separated from providing force to the paddle. I don't think the two concepts are at odds, but I understand why they seemed to be given my imperfect description.

Ed Lawson

Fair enough. However, as I indicated in another post, using a pull-bar on the dry side leg would provide a lot of power to unwind the rotation. But, even without the pull-bar, I like to think that everything you do to rotate is for propulsion.

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