Neutral wrist = better performance?

Ive been thinking about the double bend vs straight shaft and wondering......If the double bend puts the wrist closer to a neutral position, wouldnt that also increase the ability to load the wrist, thus the paddle more? And if so, doesnt that increase the output? And if so, wouldnt it be best to keep the wrist in nuetral at all times through the power section of a stroke? And if so what do y'all think the power/performance increase would be? 1%? 2%? 3%? More? Less? Any paddle gurus out there have any idea?

Submitted by aquafiend65 on Mon, 03/17/2008 - 4:09pm

Those were my thoughts, but if double bend are so great why arent the top paddlers using them? In exercize physiology having more fingers engaged reflexes to the core muscle and gives them more "current" through "irradiation" but it seems that that is not what is really important. As I have not oppurtunity to try out paddles I bought a ZRE powersurge light, a Kialoa wacky shaft with a lanikia blade and the Kialoa axel II I started with when I got my boat. The wacky feels fantastic, I feel totally connected with the paddle and it is gets me moving the fastest. I dont know how it handles in surfing conditions etc, but it is hard to imagine that someone who tries it would not think having a bend there is a good idea because that is the ergonomics of where my hand is, and that is the position where you need to neutral wrist and engaged fingers the most because that is where you are strongest.

#1 Mon, 03/17/2008 - 7:38pm

Shawn said : >why arent the top paddlers using them?

Every Tahitian paddler uses them, surely they (the Tahitians) qualify as "Top Paddlers" ???

Cheers Rambo

#2 Mon, 03/17/2008 - 8:45pm

My mistake, I was thinking oc-1...karel, danny ching etc, none to be seen in the videos and pictures. Every try one, what are your thoughts?

#3 Mon, 03/17/2008 - 9:12pm

I do have in my collection and have paddled with the more standard type double bend on OC1, but not the radical "wacky type". I think the Wacky could be awkward to surf with and fiddly on changing sides, but i guess its something you could persist with and master if you really felt that it made a difference individually.

My gut feeling is that paddlers who find an instant relief in comfort, are probably using a standard paddle incorrectly or have a technique flaw.

Try this exercise ... hold your bottom hand as if you are gripping a paddle out in front of you, ie. fingers curled around the shaft. Now without flexing your wrist, just adjust your fingers so that the imaginary shaft is tilting forwards then backwards 45 degrees, only move you fingers. You will find that the fingers have enormous capacity to adjust the angle, even with the wrist locked. So if you're gripping the paddle like you would an axe, then you need to relax your grip and paddle with a slightly open hand, using the fingers (which are incredibly strong) to adjust to the paddle angle as it progresses through the stroke cycle.

Personally, i have very short fat fingers (hold the jokes please) and have never had grip or wrist problems.

"T" grips as opposed to "palm grips" enable a much more relaxed bottom hand, as most of the stability of the blade can be controlled with the top hand.

Paddlers who grip the paddle shaft hard, also tend to loose efficiency by wasting a lot of energy compressing the shaft between their top and bottom hand (ie. the top hand pushing down and the bottom hand pulling up - opposing forces so energy lost)

To sum up, firm but flexible grip, with both hands transferring the torque in the same basic direction.

Hope that helps.

Cheers Rambo

#4 Mon, 03/17/2008 - 10:20pm

Very interesting, thanks for reply. Seems simple but there are a lot of subtle things I learn a little fraction everytime I go out and read these posts.

#5 Mon, 03/17/2008 - 11:18pm

Rambo said: "hold your bottom hand as if you are gripping a paddle out in front of you, ie. fingers curled around the shaft. Now without flexing your wrist, just adjust your fingers so that the imaginary shaft is tilting forwards then backwards 45 degrees, only move you fingers."

Rambo, Have you tried this technique doing pull-ups? There is no way that adjusting fingers as you pull generates the strength/power of a full/neutral grip.

#6 Tue, 03/18/2008 - 6:22am

I’m not sure of the effects of a double bend paddle. I prefer a single bend. As I paddle my wrist is in no discomfort. I like to know where the shaft is when I switch sides. I would say its the feel of the paddle. when selecting (even the same brand type measurement everything ) a paddle for whatever reason one fells better than the rest. that’s the one.

{This is my weapon, there are many like it, but this one is mine}

#7 Tue, 03/18/2008 - 6:50am

Double bent paddles don`t do anything for your boat speed , if they did everyone would have switched to them 30 years ago when they first came out.

#8 Tue, 03/18/2008 - 8:35am

The first time I got sore in the lats was when I used the wacky shaft, which is radically bent so you really have even your pinkie wraped when you are extended. If you were rowing on a hammer strength machine for example a good trainer would say to focus on the pinkie and ring finger to engage the lats...when you pull from index and thumb it is more of a rear delt and rhomboid focus the "feeling" is higher on the back. Just my experience. As fuze said if they made the boat go faster, they would be in a lot more hands. Who knows, since one of the bodies responses to endurance training is to downsize it would make sense to get the job done while engaging the least amount of oxygen hungry muscle tissue, being able to spin the wheels faster rather than being a little stronger

#9 Tue, 03/18/2008 - 10:18am

The concept for me is more like limp wrist = better performance.

Not a limp wrist literally, but you should be able to hold your paddle with just your palm on the top hand and fingertips on the bottom and generate nearly the same boat speed. An efficient paddle stroke is about transferring your body weight onto the paddle and letting it do the work for you. You can still get your weight onto the paddle barely holding it. That's at least what I've been told all these years. I still find myself giving the paddle the death grip at the start of races sometimes. I think this is what Rambo is getting at above when talking about paddling with an open hand.

As far as double vs. single bend, I've tried both and find the shape of the blade is more important to me personally. I'll use whatever gets a nice clean entry and good bite. The shaft can do a corkscrew as long as it sets properly.

#10 Tue, 03/18/2008 - 11:55am

Aquafriend, i'm suggesting the imaginary paddle exercise in a vertical plane, as if you are reaching to begin your stroke. The horizontal pull-up bar angle stays stationary ( 90 degrees) and has a constant load so is not a good analogy.

I think you will find most paddlers that DON'T strangle the shaft adjust their fingers to suit the angle, as well as some wrist flexion in the vertical plane.

As you can see below we naturally don't have a lot of flexion in the vertical plane of the wrist.

Image Hosted by

Time to go paddling .. see ya.


#11 Tue, 03/18/2008 - 12:16pm

I concur with your last post. All Im saying is it seems that keeping the wrist in neutral position is ideal....even if most paddles dont accomodate that. Wouldnt you agree?

#12 Tue, 03/18/2008 - 12:57pm

Rambo is right ,but to close this friutless discusion the bent paddle shafts are and sould be a thing of ergonomics the paddles tahitian pro's also use recurved shaft paddles with lessens the wirst angle a bit but also has other benefits like making a stiffer shaft which can in turn be made lighter.

And here we seem to hear a lot of mumbo-jumbo about all sorts of bend shafts ,angled blades etc. but the differences between all these paddles are quite small and often the choice is by what feels beter which is ok..

I terms of paddling i would regard the weight of the paddle to be of biggest influence(besides size of the blade) . The paddle should also have a nice comfortable flex in the shaft and a stiff sharp blade.

#13 Tue, 03/18/2008 - 1:18pm

Having a neutral wrist position isn't even the reason double-bend paddles were made, it's just a secondary result of the design.

Step 1: stop trying to strangle the paddle...

#14 Tue, 03/18/2008 - 1:05pm

Oops! I didn't realize that canoemaker had already closed this fruitless discussion... but he's SO right.


#15 Tue, 03/18/2008 - 1:07pm

Could be Boat+Aid. But i think what you were looking for was a speed increase and as Fuserider said, double bends won't make you go faster. Efficient Stroke Technique and training will though.

Cheers Rambo

#16 Tue, 03/18/2008 - 1:16pm

I will present a simple example for the illustration

It is no use if the paddle has all the bells and whistles like this one on the picture ,if it weighs 600g instead of 380g and the blade is mostly flat with no volume because of the production technology with a dihedral ridge in the back and reinforcment rib in front and the leading edge thicker than the top of the paddle

The shaft might have serius design and engeenering done in it ,but who cares when it weighs 200g instead of 120g

#17 Tue, 03/18/2008 - 1:17pm

The heaviest paddle I've ever tried is one that Shell Vaa used to win the channel this year. My teammate traded for it after the race and it's made the rounds. I was surprised and disappointed when it didn't transform me into a channel winning paddler.

#18 Tue, 03/18/2008 - 1:43pm

I think canoemaker said in an earlier thread something about it all being fashion, and no bend at all is just as good with proper technique. I notice that most of the guys who like the wacky shaft are relative novices, which is cool, but I hope it doesn't prevent them from learning good technique. I think alot of rowing rules are also true for paddling, and I remember my crew coach telling me to hold the oar as if it were a very delicate part of the female anatomy. This cannot be stressed enough to the novice paddler. Relax that grip, wacky shafters!

#19 Tue, 03/18/2008 - 2:23pm

Goto and canoemaker, perhaps for the typical paddler this is a fruitless discussion but its very interesting to me because understanding the principles of mechanics and construction are as important to me as actual paddling. Just as making my own boards are just as interesting to me as surfing, so to is making paddling products just as interesting and fulfilling to me as paddling. I guess its a craftsman thing and even though you dont get it many others do.;search_string=stin...

#20 Tue, 03/18/2008 - 7:50pm


Aquafiend, you are an impenetrable, concrete block of pure ego. I can hardly believe how into yourself you are - you non-typical craftsman paddler, you!

#21 Tue, 03/18/2008 - 8:33pm

Yeah, Im self absorbed because I am interested in actual paddling subjects instead of sarcasm.

#22 Tue, 03/18/2008 - 7:47pm

There are actually more than a few people on this forum that shape surfboards and build things. Some could be considered craftsmen.


Surprisingly, goto is one of them.

On the original topic, I used bent shafts for a lot of years from age 16 to 21. Maybe they were not well made, maybe I abused them, but it seems like I snapped a lot paddle shafts back then.

As an adult paddler I switched to straight shaft paddles. I haven't broken one since.

In both cases I never had any problem maintaining a grip on the shaft (hehe), nor did I have any type of wrist problem.

#23 Tue, 03/18/2008 - 10:05pm

I enjoy the forum. Having a paddle that you love seems like a primary relationship in OC, and as they said in the matrix when you are in love you just know it : ) With a little swipe of surf wax I had a solid enough hold on the axel II but the wacky felt more touquey.

Per Marina Del Rey Crew re wacky shaft

"The overwhelming response was positive althought it is different and takes more getting used to than a straight shaft or true double bend, The paddle works well and feels like the power is applied to the stroke much sooner. I found the paddle to be comfortable, cross overs were the only aspect that I had problems with. Because of how the bend is the paddle had a tendancy to twirl half way as I passed it to the other side.
Unlike double bends mixed with straight shaft paddles in a boat where you have different blade angles causing power band issues, The blade angles are the same as a straight shaft. This will allow part of the canoe to use the blade without causing issues with the rest of the crew."

Thats what it felt like, more torque, faster for me though I am still real slow but improving. Everytime I pick up that bent paddle I smile. (Now If Zre could make a 10oz one!) If all that mattered was speed I would have got the surfski.

Several post from people with nerve problems who need something more ergonomic and can paddle a double bend without more pain. Because of the ergonomics you can grip even more lightly and still pull hard. More on Makana Alii double bend thread.

#24 Tue, 03/18/2008 - 11:26pm

Shawn Michael said : > I enjoy the forum. Having a paddle that you love seems like a primary relationship in OC ...

Yup, i just lost one of my "Babies" in a huge OC6 wipeout on Sunday morning, Hull over Ama side ways down a 3 metre breaking swell. It was Xylo Molokai. 51" x 9 3/4 all timber with RAMBO in 2" high embedded letters on the blade face. I'm fretting for it's return.

Image Hosted by

#25 Wed, 03/19/2008 - 1:02am

rambo, i believe most people apply the tape to the paddle, not the arm. just an observation.

hope you get your baby back...

#26 Wed, 03/19/2008 - 8:05am

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