Packrafter's Warmup + Shoulder Mobility Sequence
Apr 14, 2019
We wouldn't do a workout without a warmup first, right? We know that's a recipe for injury and is easily preventable by spending a few minutes building up heat in the body and increasing blood flow to the joints & muscles.
I wonder, why is it so acceptable to jump right into our outdoor recreation without a warmup?
In the end, this one is a rhetorical question. The real answer here is that we'd all be better served if we DID warm up our bodies before starting our outdoor recreation ventures.
This is particularly important for packrafters & other whitewater paddlers since so often a whitewater run begins with the most technical part. We need our bodies to be ready for whatever comes our way, which could necessitate a snappy paddle stroke, a strong brace with the core, or a quick recovery from a line that didn't go as planned.
Even if you're just paddling flat water, or maybe you're not a paddler at all, this is relevant -- do you carry heavy grocery bags. lug toddlers around, or toss a stick to your dog? All of these put us in situations where we depend on our shoulder health and have some risk for both overuse & acute injury.
Whatever we're up to, if we're not properly warmed up before getting in the water or attempting a heavy lift, we're putting ourselves at high risk for injury - and an injury in whitewater could quickly turn into a major safety concern. An acquaintance of mine dislocated his shoulder in the process of tipping his packraft in the Brooks Range and took a very scary swim that could have easily ended quite badly.
All this to say, let's take as good care of ourselves as possible, and do what we can to prevent such things from happening. We certainly can't control everything that happens in the backcountry or in our daily lives, but we can take as good care of ourselves as possible while we're out there.
One last quick note for packrafters in particular: watch out for the sneaky tendency to think that because you hiked into the river you're already warmed up. It's a tempting one, but it's only partially true. Your body temperature might be elevated, true... but likely your shoulders, forearms, and upper back are NOT warmed up, and in fact, might be the opposite if you've been carrying a heavy pack for any amount of time.
This quick warm-up series takes ~6 minutes, is easy & fun, and is well worth the little bit of extra effort it takes to do it. Expected results include reduced injuries, improved reaction time on the water, increased shoulder mobility, and some of that extra good juju you get for knowing you're taking good care of your body.