top of page
  • Meg McCall

Kayaking with a Rotator Cuff Injury? Yes, You Can!

Not too long ago, we got an inquiry from Leon, a paddler in Hawaii who uses a lightweight foldable Oru Kayak so that he can easily carry his kayak from place to place. Like many paddlers, Leon has a significant rotator cuff injury. He wanted a product that could help keep him paddling regularly and for longer periods of time.

Oru Kayak Rotator Cuff Injury
Leon in His Oru Kayak Paddling in Hawaii

Leon was curious about whether our Versa Paddle or Gamut Paddle Holder would alleviate the stress and subsequent pain in his shoulders. We talked through the differences of each product and decided that the Gamut would be the best choice for him since he had pretty good mobility and really only needed something to support the weight of his paddle. The catch? Since the Oru is an origami-inspired kayak that can be folded for easy transport and storage, putting any holes in it is discouraged. So, the question became, how do we attach one of the mounts that comes with the Gamut without drilling holes into his kayak?

We love a good engineering design challenge at Angle Oar so, together, we brainstormed various possibilities with Leon. Ultimately, it was Leon himself who gets 100% of the credit for finding a solution. He purchased the Gamut support mount that’s usually used with sit-on-top kayaks, which we call the plate mount, and fashioned his own DIY mount that rests between his legs on the floor of his kayak.

“I used a sturdy plastic container (that I found at Salvation Army) that does not shatter when I drilled holes into its walls. The vertical post and plate mount are secured to a piece of 1/2 inch hardwood which is then secured inside the plastic container,” explains Leon. “As the picture shows, the vertical post protrudes through a round hole on top of the plastic container. It's snug enough to allow the Gamut holder to rotate.” Leon also incorporated a blue saddle seat from Walmart, a yoga mat and some tape to make it all work. He also added foam to the shaft to prevent it from shifting off center.

The entire device sits between his thighs. “My body weight and the tacky yoga mat prevents the device from shifting when I paddle,” notes Leon. “The height of the paddle holder is adjustable. For my comfort, it's at chest level. The paddle easily clears the kayak's gunwale.”

kayaking shoulder pain paddle holder

Leon acknowledges it took some trial and error before finally settling on this method for mounting the Gamut. It may not be the most elegant solution, but it does the trick! He’s been out for a couple of spins and plans to create a similar set up for his wife, who also uses an Oru.

“The Gamut works well for me. It's a more relaxing paddle experience, and I can paddle farther. I do not have to grip the handle much since it's "resting" on the device. When I'm done yakking, my shoulders do not feel as much pain as I used to,” says Leon. “The device delivers what it promised to do: a much better kayaking experience. Thank you for it.”

As we indicate on the Angle Oar website, not all of our mounts fit every kayak. Fortunately, we have many industrious customers who found ways to modify our mounts or create their own innovative solutions to make using the products possible. If you have any type of shoulder or joint problems and would like to talk about whether our adaptive devices might be a good fit for you, please contact us any time.

P.S. Visit our Adaptive Kayaking InfoGraphic to find out how common rotator cuff surgeries are!


bottom of page