I’m extremely curious as to who has experienced shoulder pain or problems while or after paddling Alpacka rafts? I’ve been extremely careful to take good care of my shoulders, especially after watching all of my kayaking buddies dislocate theirs over the years from bad form/paddling posture. I’ve always been able to keep my hands and shoulders low while kayaking, but the packraft has created a new challenge. Every time I’ve paddled the Alpacka my shoulders have been very sore towards the end of the run & a few days afterwards. Last September (after a day of teaching an APU packrafting class on Granite Creek), I woke up screaming, frozen solid, and could not move my shoulder or body a single inch. For 2 hours I didn’t move from the extremely sharp pain, thinking I had dislocated my shoulder. I didn’t, but my paddling has been hindered severly, and now to the point of not paddling at all anymore. After 3.5 months of visiting the chiropractor (3 times a week), an MRI, x-rays, doctor visits, and physcial therapy, they determined that my injury happened because I was paddling with my hands, arms, and shoulders too high. They determined that paddling too high (with paddle close to the height of your chest) causes the ball & socket joint bone in your shoulder to rub on the rotator cuff tendon and slowly wear the muscle fibers away, cutting them with each new stroke.
In a packraft, I have to paddle like this because the tubes are so large there is no way to reach the water without a slightly elevated paddling position. This explains why I could kayak hard all day & feel no pain, then pack raft a few hours and feel lots of pain. I’m really bummed because I missed out on a great deal of “end of season” paddling, will be missing out on high water in the southeastern USA over x-mas holidays, and might not be able to paddle in New Zealand this February (which was supposed to be strictly a paddling trip:^(
My concern is that this could possibly be happening to other packrafters out there without them even realizing it until it’s too late, winding up with a very angry tendon that refuses to boat any longer until months of healing or possible surgery. I feel an easy solution to this problem would be to make new seats for the packraft that sit the boater another 2-3 inches higher in the packraft, increasing leverage & power, while eliminating the dangerous & destructive position of sitting too low in a boat. Wondering what peoples thoughts are and if anyone else is experiencing shoulder issues?