Living your best life with arthritis.

Canoeing and kayaking can be beneficial for joints

Man in a kayakCanoeing and kayaking are good exercises for people with arthritis because they are low-impact sports that reduce wear-and-tear on joints and tissues.

After his diagnosis with arthritis, Nova Scotia resident Nick LeBlanc refused to give up on sports and participates in paddling sports like kayaking. Childhood arthritis affects three in 1,000 children in Canada. LeBlanc was playing in a tournament when a swollen knee eventually led a visit to the ER, where doctors referred him to a rheumatologist and he was diagnosed with arthritis.

After his diagnosis, LeBlanc had intense swelling and bone deterioration. The 17-year-old has already had three separate surgeries and has been using crutches for support.

In an interview with CTV Atlantic, he said: “Before my arthritis, I was basically your typical kid at the time. I was playing nothing but basketball and hockey. I literally eat and slept that. So I couldn’t really do that anymore, so that was quite a significant lifestyle change. ” LeBlanc believes that sharing stories and talking about childhood arthritis can break the stigma that arthritis applies only to the elderly.

In day 7 of the Rio 2016 Olympics, athletes will be participating in medal events in canoeing and rowing. In watching these athletes battle through choppy waters in the 1000m mark for rowing, we are reminded of the determination and focus these athletes put into their sport. Patients should follow the same focus and determination in achieving a life without pain.

For those interested in participating in canoeing or kayaking, Better Health Channel has provided a summary of the benefits of canoeing and kayaking:

  • Improved cardiovascular fitness
  • Increased muscle strength, particularly in the back, arms, shoulders and chest, from moving the paddle
  • Increased torso and leg strength, as the strength to power a canoe or kayak comes mainly from rotating the torso and applying pressure with your legs
  • Reduced risk of wear-and-tear on joints and tissues, since paddling is a low impact activity 
  • Canoeing and kayaking can be meditative 

Here are some safety tips for when you canoe and kayak:

  • Ensure the length and size of your paddle is suitable for your physique
  • Wear a personal floatation device or life jacket
  • Wear proper clothing and shoes
  • Bring a spray deck to help keep water out of your water vessel
  • Bring a first aid and boat repair kit
  • Bring sufficient food and water for the duration of your journey
  • Bring a dry bag to put a set of dry clothes, your mobile phones, and your valuables
  • Let someone know where you will be canoeing and kayaking
  • Bring a flashlight
  • Learn the proper technique
  • Ensure you follow safety rules and regulations for recreational water sports