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  • Writer's pictureJonny Hawkins

RAMP Up Your Warm Up

It's raining hard, the river is up, you have just got out of a hot car and are now standing, freezing cold by the river. You expect your body to perform perfectly when you get onto the water but it is still half asleep.

Warming up is crucial to paddling the top drop on the Moriston well

In pretty much all sports, athletes warm up before starting so why do lots of kayakers avoid it? Embarrassment? Lack of knowledge? Time? Faff? I’m on a mission to make it more common place in kayaking so thought I would share a simple way to structure your warm-up and get the most from your time on the water.

Why warm up?

Research has proven beyond doubt that warming up is a very good thing and has many benefits for you during exercise and afterwards. Cardio warming up (like jogging) raises your heart rate and muscle temperature, whilst certain movement patterns and stretches will lubricate joints and prepare muscles for action. Gradually increasing the intensity of your warm up will reduce the chance of injuries such as shoulder dislocations and provides an opportunity to practice skills and get your 'head in the game’,


This simple acronym will help structure your warmup and includes all the necessary bits to get your body totally ready to paddle.

R - Raise

Raising is as simple as raising your heartbeat and temperature. This could be done by running the shuttle or 5 mins jogging up and down the riverbank should do the trick. This raises your heart rate, pumps more blood to your muscles and increases your body temperature.

A+M - Activate and Mobilise

Once your muscles are warm and lots of blood is is flowing round your body it is time to get your joints and muscles ready. Activating muscle groups means that they get ready to pull and Mobilising joints ensures joints can move through their full range of motion. Dynamic stretches and limb rotations are great ways to cover this section

P - Paddle (potentiate)

Hop on the water and perform movements that you are going to do during your paddle, gradually building up the intensity. Forward paddling on the flat, then in the flow and finally ferry gliding builds up intensity nicely. S-turns combine lots of movement patterns that you will use during your paddle and you can alter the ‘intensity’ by crossing the eddy line higher up each time. When you start paddling downstream, hit eddies, ferry glide, practice accelerating, surf waves. As well as preparing you physically it gets your head in the game and is also a great opportunity to practice skills.

Now for a very cheesy video :)

In conclusion

  • All top athletes warm up so we should as well

  • Don’t be embarrassed or feel you are holding up your mates, get them to join in and reap the benefits as well

  • Warm ups will help us paddle better and reduce the likelihood of injuries

  • R.A.M.P. is a good way to structure it

  • Raise heart rate, Activate muscles, Mobilise joints and Paddle

If you want to learn more about warming up, the Highland Kayak School are running skill and guided courses this Autumn across the Highlands

Please share your thoughts on warming up below, we are always keen to hear new ideas or to have ours challenged :)

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