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Shoulder Injuries in Canoeing and Kayaking

Holland, Philip, MBChB, MSc, FRCS*; Torrance, Emma, PhD; Funk, Lennard, MBBCh, BSc, MSc, FRCS

Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine: November 2018 - Volume 28 - Issue 6 - p 524–529
doi: 10.1097/JSM.0000000000000472
Original Research

Objective: We report the largest case series of shoulder injuries among paddlers so far to establish common mechanisms and patterns of injury. We also discuss how these injuries were managed and report the proportion of paddlers that return to paddlesport.

Design: Case series.

Setting: Upper Limb Unit, Wrightington Hospital, United Kingdom. Manchester Arm Clinic, United Kingdom.

Patients: Fifty-seven shoulder injuries to professional and recreational paddlers were reviewed at a mean follow-up time of 55 months from the first consultation. The patient cohort had a mean age of 36 years and consisted of 56% males.

Assessment of Risk Factors: Sex, mechanism of injury, acute/nonacute injury, and level of sport participation.

Main Outcome Measures: Patient data were analyzed with regards to Constant score, QuickDASH score, and VAS satisfaction score before and after treatment.

Results: The most common mechanism of injury was a capsize which accounted for 15 (26%) injuries. Ten injuries caused by a capsize were labral tears all of which needed surgery. A significant improvement in patient outcome scores was noted. Patients were able to return to a high level of paddling such as 3 slalom paddlers who returned to international competition; one of whom had bilateral surgery.

Conclusions: Paddlers most commonly injure their shoulder when preventing a capsize, during a capsize or while rolling. The paddles strokes performed at these times often require paddlers to place their shoulder in a dangerous abducted and externally rotated position. We believe this is one of the commonest causes of serious shoulder injuries to paddlers.

*James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough, United Kingdom;

Manchester Arm Clinic, Wilmslow, United Kingdom; and

Upper Limb Department, Wrightington Hospital, Lancashire, United Kingdom.

Corresponding Author: Philip Holland, MBChB, MSc, FRCS, James Cook University Hospital, S Tees NHS FT, Marton Rd, Middlesbrough TS4 3BW, United Kingdom (

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

Received July 05, 2016

Accepted March 02, 2017

Copyright © 2018 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.