What Muscles does Paddle boarding work?

Paddle boarding works different muscles in your body. It works the muscles in your shoulders, back, and core. It doesn’t matter if you choose to stand or kneel as you paddle, different muscles will be worked.

So, what muscles do the paddling work?

Shoulder muscles

Each time you lift your paddle, a muscle will be worked. Each time you lift or dip the blade, a muscle will be worked. Your shoulders help your upper body to move. Muscles that benefit from this workout are the teres minor, the subraspinatus, and the subscapularis.

Leg muscles

When paddling in a “stand-up” position, you have to keep your feet balanced on the board. Your legs help maintain the balance and ultimately, muscles such as the semimembranosus, semitendinosus, and the biceps femoris are worked.

Arm muscles

Your arm muscles are probably going to be the most worked as you paddle. Your biceps and triceps will take a good workout each time you move them to pull and lift the blade.

Back muscles

You need a straight back to help maintain your balance. That, in addition to well-placed legs, will keep you moving as you paddle. The back muscles that will be worked are known as the rhomboid muscles. They are located on your upper back, along your shoulder blades. They are connected to your spine.

Core muscles

Your abdominal muscles also play an important role in keeping you balanced on the paddle. This makes them one of the worked muscles as well. If you don’t have a strong core before paddling, you will get one with time!


Is paddle boarding a good workout?

Paddle boarding is a lot more than a relaxing sociable activity on the water. It can be a good body workout that ultimately results in better health.

Paddle boarding is a good exercise for working the entire body. It helps improve one’s balance since you are forced to maintain a straight upright balance even in unstable water conditions. Your board may never maintain a stable position even on gentle waters, which is why paddling can help improve balance.

Considering different muscles in your body are activated as you paddle, it can help improve your overall strength. The first few times may not be the best as you will be nursing sore muscles, but after that, your body will appreciate you for the workout.

It is also great for improving your cardiovascular health. The more you paddle the better for your heart rate. Low-intensity paddling may not increase your heart rate but it will still be good for your overall cardiovascular health. If you decide to paddle fast, on the other hand, your heart rate will go up.

Last but not least, paddle boarding can help you lose a few pounds. The more you paddle, the more calories you get to lose, and the more you increase your chances of losing weight. Depending on how long you spend on the water, you get to lose hundreds of calories.

At an average, you burn about 300 to 450 calories with one hour of paddleboarding. It depends on how active and large you are. For comparison running is about 700 calories.


Stand up paddle boarding is good exercise, it is a watersport that entails standing up on the board, balancing your feet, and using a long oar to propel yourself through the water. It can be a low-key exercise as you propel yourself through still waters, or it can be a relatively high-intensity exercise if you choose to paddle downwind at high speed, through challenging waters!


All in all though, stand up paddle boarding is a good exercise as it works on different parts of your body. It works on your arms as you propel using the oars, it works on your legs as you strive to keep them balanced on the board and it works on strengthening your cores.


Why you should try paddle board exercising

There are numerous reasons for trying stand up paddle boarding some of which include:

  • It is a low-intensity exercise. You may not feel that you are exercising but if done regularly, you will notice changes to your arms, legs and core. It can be a refreshing start to exercising as you will be exercising alongside beautiful nature. Of course, you can choose to make it high-intensity by paddling speedily on challenging waters with the waves coming at you!
  • You get to exercise anywhere you choose, whether it is on the lake, the river, or ocean, the choice is yours. You get to enjoy beautiful nature as you get some workout done.
  • It provides a total body workout. You get to work your leg muscles because you have to keep balanced on the paddle if you don’t want to risk flipping over! The first few times may be challenging as you may have to nurse stiff leg muscles, but with persistence, your muscles will thank you! You also get to work on your back as well as your arms and shoulder muscles. Last but not least, the core and abdomen also benefit from a paddleboard workout.
  • It can help improve your stamina. Every time you paddle, you build your stamina; you strengthen your muscles and build your core strength. That stamina that you develop will also be useful on land.
  • It can be a good stress reliever as you get to watch beautiful nature float by as you paddle through glistering waters. In addition, paddling out in the open means that you get to enjoy the fresh air. All these work to improve your stress levels.
  • With continuous paddling and eating right, you will notice a reduction in weight. The more you paddle the more muscles you build. The more muscles you build the less fat you store away. All this is good for weight loss.
  • Since it is can be a low-intensity workout, chances of getting injured are minimized.


Types of Paddling Injuries

There are two types of injuries that paddlers typically have to deal with. Repetitive and Acute. Repetitive injuries are caused due to repeating the same motion over a long period. Repetitive injuries are more common in paddling.

Paddling events requires athletes to repeat the same movement of stroking or paddling again and again. There are times they end up doing thousands of repetitions. As expected, it takes an enormous toll on the body and causes injuries.

Acute injuries are typically caused by major collision and reported very rarely in paddling events.

Let’s take a look at few common paddling injuries along with symptoms, preventions, and cures.


Tendonitis, also known as tendinitis, is the most common paddling injury. Although, It can be caused by sudden trauma or collision. However, primarily it is caused due to the repetitive motion that puts stress on tendons. It is characterized by the swellings and pain in the ligaments surrounding elbow, wrist, and shoulder joints. Athletes suffering from tendonitis feel great discomfort in their joints, and it limits the movement. If the condition is ignored for a long time, this may become chronic and take years to recover.

Preventions and Cure 

The best prevention to avoid tendonitis is to give your body a proper warm-up. Warm-ups can help you with most of the common injuries. Use of appropriate paddles; at times, paddlers end up using paddles that are not comfortable. Also, ensure the grip is light and helps you paddle freely. While in most cases, proper rest and medication are advised so that your muscle recovery. If the condition is severe, it may need surgery.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome 

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is also called Median Nerve Compression. It is caused due to pressure on the median nerve. A common symptom of this condition is numbness in palm and thumb or index and middle fingers. The hand becomes weak and makes it difficult to hold or grip things. Interestingly this condition can be caused due to a simple repetitive task like typing. Now imagine the plight of paddlers, who are into this repetitive motion sports.

Prevention and Cure 

In case you start feeling this tingling pain and loss in strength of your grip. You should try changing the grip and lower the paddling movements. By all means, avoid extreme wrist flexion movements as this will aggravate the condition. Thankfully Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is not a severe condition and can be cured easily. There are over the counter-the-counter medication available as well. On a rare occasion, surgery might be required.

Exostosis (EACE) 

Exostosis or External Auditory Canal Exostosis (EACE) is commonly known as Surfer’s Ears. This condition typically occurs due to frequent exposure to cold water and wind. The inner ear creates a layer of calcium in the ear canal to prevent itself from cold water. This new bone may cause hearing loss. If you are lucky it may be painless, else you may end up facing extreme pain.

Prevention and Cure 

You can easily prevent this condition if you wear earplugs while paddling in cold water. The use of braces is also a great way to avoid this condition. This condition typically requires surgery.