Sunday, July 6, 2014

Dragon Boat Physics 101: Levers

I have always been strongly against choking up on the paddle. Your bottom hand should be just above the blade and it should stay there. I've been picking on this particular element heavy in the past month and have been asked why a couple times. The reasoning for choking up is usually to get deeper in the water (something that can be corrected by dropping your body more), but this comes at a cost of leverage on the paddle. You will notice that the further up your bottom hand climbs, the less control you have over the paddle and it becomes harder to pull the water. That's the leverage that you're losing.
But that had me thinking: leverage (by physics definition) is the presence of mechanical advantage through a lever. So parts of the dragon boat stroke must follow that of the lever. So let's explore this idea by modelling the stroke as a simple mechanical system and figure out what we can learn from it.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Be Fearless

Cowardly lion2
The DBCB blog is almost a month old now and I've put the mobility project on a temporary hiatus. As we approach our first race of the year, I wanted to take a jab at something that we haven't really touch on before: the mental aspect of dragon boating or competing in general.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

An Analysis on Paddle Length

My last "physics 101" post was wildly popular, so I thought that I would do an analysis on another issue that I think plagues many paddlers: choosing the right paddle length.  While this usually comes down to personal preference and trial-and-error, people are usually choose a paddle length without much thought into what is right for them.  Many paddle manufacturers will over-simplify the process down to your height and experience level, which might give you a vague idea of the appropriate size paddle but has flaws.  First of all, why is your overall height important in a sport where you are sitting down?  Simple answer: it isn't.  So if not height, then what is important?  And what is the criteria for experience?  Is it just years of paddling experience?  If so, then every year you continue in the sport you should be buying a new longer paddle.  I'm sure the paddle manufacturers would like that, but if you're like me, then you're more concerned about what the right choice is for the long-term; not an interim paddle that you will "grow out of".

Monday, June 2, 2014

The DBCB Mobility Project: Forearms (Wrist & Elbows)

Happy Mobility Monday!  I've decided that Mondays will officially be the day for new blog posts about mobility.  And being an alliteration is just too perfect.  The first week I covered the shoulders, then I moved down from the shoulders to the lats.  This week I'm moving down from the shoulders on the arms to the often-neglected forearms.  I know that I've heard paddlers complaining about their aching elbows or wrists.  Well both of those are common with repetitive strain injuries (RSI) such as tendonitis, carpel tunnel syndrome, or tennis elbow.  Before you hit full blown RSI, you can take steps to reduce pain.  Any pain felt in the elbow or wrist is usually related to tightness in the forearm, not the actual joint.  So take care of your forearms and your joints will remain pain-free.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

The DBCB Mobility Project: Lats [Video]

Last week we covered the shoulder rotators. This week, we'll move directly down from there to the latissimus dorsi muscle, better known as the lats. Improving your lats mobility will help in overhead positioning, i.e. getting your arms extended overhead. "Why is he talking about overhead positioning for dragon boat?" you may be asking yourself. Well if you think about it, the A-frame setup is essentially an overhead position. We tend to focus on getting more extension by rotating more, but we can also get extension by getting better in the overhead position and reaching our arms as far out as possible. Some paddlers actually bend their top arm in an effort to compensate for poor overhead mobility.  So work on your lats and you may lose your bent elbow!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Dragon Boat Physics 101: Stroke Efficiency

To get a better understanding of how to get more efficient in your stroke, you need to understand what exactly happens when you take a stroke. Obviously, it moves the boat forward, but have you ever taken the time to consider what physics are at play here? Understanding the fundamentals can greatly help you to understand what you are doing right and wrong. Today's lesson is about improving your stroke efficiency... with science!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The DBCB Mobility Project: Shoulder Rotators

First off, welcome everyone to the new DBCB blog. On this blog, the coaches will be sharing some advice for our paddlers. This particular post will be the first in a series of posts about mobility exercises for you to do at home to improve your muscle flexibility, decrease pain, and help with recovery. Today's focus is shoulders.