why am i so sore after paddle boarding 4
why am i so sore after paddle boarding 4

Ever wondered why your muscles ache after a serene day of paddle boarding? We’ve all been there, floating peacefully on calm waters, only to wake up the next morning feeling like we’ve just conquered Mount Everest. But fear not, fellow adventurers, for there’s a scientific explanation behind this peculiar phenomenon. The continuous balancing act and paddling motion while on a paddle board engage muscles in ways they’re not used to, resulting in the delightful soreness that reminds us of our water-bound escapades. So next time you find yourself questioning your soreness, remember that it’s just your body’s way of saying, “You rocked that paddle board session!”

Why Am I So Sore After Paddle Boarding?

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Improper Technique

Incorrect Paddle Grip

One of the reasons why we may feel sore after paddle boarding is due to an incorrect paddle grip. If our grip on the paddle is improper, we put unnecessary strain on our wrists and arms. It’s important to have a firm, but relaxed grip on the paddle, with our fingers wrapped around it and our palms facing down. This allows for better control and reduces the strain on our muscles.

Poor Body Positioning

Another factor that can contribute to soreness is poor body positioning while paddle boarding. If we don’t maintain a proper posture, such as hunching our shoulders or leaning too far forward or backward, it can place strain on our neck, shoulders, and back muscles. Keeping our spine aligned and maintaining a balanced position helps distribute the load evenly and prevents muscle fatigue.

Inefficient Stroke Technique

Using an inefficient stroke technique can also lead to muscle soreness. If we’re not using the right technique, we may be exerting more effort than necessary to propel ourselves forward. This can put excessive strain on our arms, shoulders, and back. It’s important to learn and practice the correct stroke technique, such as using a smooth and fluid motion and engaging the larger muscle groups in our core and legs, to reduce muscle fatigue and minimize the risk of injury.

Muscle Fatigue

Engaging Multiple Muscle Groups

Paddle boarding is a whole-body workout that engages multiple muscle groups. When we paddle, we use our arms, shoulders, back, core, and legs to maintain balance and move through the water. Engaging these large muscle groups for an extended period can lead to muscle fatigue and soreness, especially if we’re new to the sport or haven’t built up the necessary strength.

Sustained Muscle Contractions

During paddle boarding, our muscles need to sustain contractions to maintain balance and stability on the board. These sustained contractions can lead to muscle fatigue and soreness, similar to the feeling we experience after a challenging workout. The longer we stay on the water and the more intense our paddling, the more our muscles will fatigue.


Overexertion is another common cause of muscle soreness after paddle boarding. If we push ourselves too hard or paddle for an extended period without allowing our muscles to rest and recover, we can experience excessive fatigue and soreness. It’s important to listen to our bodies, take breaks when needed, and gradually increase our paddle boarding intensity and duration to avoid overexertion.

Insufficient Warm-Up

Skipping Pre-Paddle Stretching

Skipping a proper warm-up before paddle boarding can contribute to increased muscle soreness. Stretching helps prepare our muscles for the physical demands of the activity and improves their flexibility, reducing the risk of strains and injuries. By not taking the time to stretch properly before hitting the water, we put our muscles at a disadvantage, making them more prone to soreness and potential damage.

Not Gradually Increasing Intensity

Another aspect of warming up is gradually increasing the intensity of our paddle boarding activity. By starting with lower intensity strokes and gradually building up to a more vigorous pace, we allow our muscles to adapt to the exertion and minimize the risk of soreness. Going straight into intense paddling without a warm-up can shock our muscles and lead to increased soreness and fatigue.

Cold Muscles

Paddle boarding in cold water or without proper protection can also contribute to muscle soreness. Cold muscles are more prone to injury and take longer to warm up and perform optimally. To minimize muscle soreness, it’s important to dress appropriately for the weather conditions and consider wearing a wetsuit or other suitable gear to keep our muscles warm and protected.

Physical Demand

Stabilization of Core Muscles

Paddle boarding requires a significant amount of core stability to maintain balance on the board. The constant adjustments and shifts in weight challenge our core muscles, including the abs, obliques, and lower back muscles. This demand for core stabilization can lead to muscle soreness, especially if our core muscles are weak or not accustomed to this level of engagement.

Constant Balancing and Adjusting

Keeping balance on the board and adjusting to changing water conditions is a continuous physical demand. This constant balancing and adjusting engage the small stabilizer muscles throughout our body, such as the muscles in our ankles, knees, and hips. These smaller muscles may not be as strong as our larger muscle groups, and the sustained effort required to maintain balance can contribute to muscle fatigue and soreness.

Upper Body Strength

Paddling itself requires significant upper body strength, particularly in the arms, shoulders, and back. The repetitive motion of paddling, combined with the resistance of the water, places constant strain on these muscle groups. If our upper body strength is not well-developed or we’re not accustomed to this level of activity, it’s common to experience sore muscles after paddle boarding.

Why Am I So Sore After Paddle Boarding?

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Water Conditions

Choppy or Rough Waters

Paddle boarding in choppy or rough waters can be more physically demanding and lead to muscle soreness. The constant instability caused by the waves or choppy water requires additional effort to maintain balance and propel ourselves forward. This increased demand on our muscles can result in fatigue and soreness, especially in the stabilizer muscles that work to keep us steady on the board.

Strong Winds or Currents

When we paddle against strong winds or currents, it adds an extra level of resistance to our movements. This increased resistance forces our muscles to work harder to overcome the external forces and maintain our forward progress. As a result, our muscles may fatigue more quickly and feel sore afterward due to the increased effort required to paddle in these challenging conditions.

Constant Resistance

Even in calm waters, paddle boarding naturally involves resistance due to the water’s density and friction. The resistance created as we paddle through the water engages our muscles and provides an effective workout. However, this constant resistance can also lead to muscle fatigue and soreness, particularly if we’re not accustomed to the sustained effort required for paddle boarding.

Inadequate Equipment

Wrong Paddle Length

Using a paddle with the wrong length can lead to muscle soreness. If the paddle is too long or too short for our height, it can cause us to use excessive force or adopt awkward body positions while paddling. This improper alignment puts strain on our muscles and joints, increasing the likelihood of soreness and potential injuries. It’s important to choose a paddle that’s properly sized for our height and paddling style to minimize discomfort and maximize efficiency.

Uncomfortable or Ill-fitting Paddle Board

Paddle boarding on an uncomfortable or ill-fitting paddle board can also contribute to muscle soreness. If the board doesn’t provide the necessary stability or if it causes discomfort, it can force us to use compensatory movements or engage muscles in unnatural ways. This can lead to muscle fatigue and soreness, as our body works harder to maintain balance and navigate through the water. Ensuring a proper fit and comfort of the paddle board is crucial in preventing unnecessary strain on our muscles.

Lack of Cushioned Deck Padding

The absence of sufficient cushioned deck padding on the paddle board can exacerbate muscle soreness. When our feet and knees repeatedly come into contact with a hard and unforgiving surface, it places additional stress on our joints and muscles. The lack of cushioning absorbs less impact, causing more strain on our body. Investing in a paddle board with adequate deck padding can help reduce muscle soreness and enhance overall comfort during paddle boarding sessions.

Why Am I So Sore After Paddle Boarding?

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Lack of Conditioning

Inactive Lifestyle

If we lead a predominantly sedentary lifestyle and have limited physical activity, paddle boarding can be physically demanding on our muscles and cardiovascular system. The sudden increase in activity levels can result in muscle soreness, as our muscles are unconditioned and not used to sustained physical exertion. Regular exercise and maintaining an active lifestyle can help improve muscle strength and endurance, reducing muscle soreness when participating in activities like paddle boarding.

Weak Muscles and Endurance

Weak muscles and endurance levels can make paddle boarding more challenging and lead to increased muscle soreness. When our muscles are not adequately conditioned, they fatigue more quickly and are more prone to soreness. Building up muscle strength and endurance through regular exercise can help prepare our muscles for the demands of paddle boarding, minimizing soreness and improving overall performance.

Lack of Regular Exercise

A lack of regular exercise and physical activity can result in decreased muscle strength and flexibility, making us more susceptible to muscle soreness after paddle boarding. Without regular exercise, our muscles lose their conditioning and become weaker, leading to fatigue and soreness during and after physical activities. Incorporating regular exercise, such as strength training and cardiovascular workouts, into our routine can help improve muscle condition, reduce soreness, and enhance overall performance in paddle boarding.

Overuse Injuries

Repetitive Strain on Muscles

The repetitive nature of paddle boarding, especially during longer sessions or intense workouts, can lead to overuse injuries. When we repeatedly engage the same muscles without allowing adequate rest and recovery, it can result in muscle strain and inflammation. This overuse can cause muscle soreness and potentially lead to more serious injuries if not addressed. It’s crucial to listen to our bodies, take breaks when needed, and gradually increase our paddle boarding duration and intensity to avoid overuse injuries.

Joint Overload

Over time, paddle boarding without proper technique or excessive strain on our joints can lead to joint overload. This can cause joint pain, inflammation, and ultimately muscle soreness. Proper body positioning, stroke technique, and using our larger muscle groups to share the load can help distribute the force and minimize stress on our joints. It’s important to be mindful of our technique and avoid placing excessive stress on vulnerable joints to prevent discomfort and potential injuries.


Tendonitis, an inflammation of the tendons, can also occur due to repetitive motion and strain during paddle boarding. The repetitive nature of paddling puts stress on the tendons in our arms and shoulders, increasing the risk of tendonitis. Common symptoms include pain, swelling, and tenderness in the affected areas, which can contribute to overall muscle soreness. Proper warm-up, regular stretching, and gradual increases in intensity can help reduce the risk of tendonitis and minimize muscle soreness.

Why Am I So Sore After Paddle Boarding?

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Age and Fitness Level

Decreased Flexibility

As we age, our flexibility naturally decreases, making us more susceptible to muscle soreness after engaging in physical activities like paddle boarding. Reduced flexibility increases the chances of muscle pulls and strains, leading to pain and discomfort. Regular stretching exercises, both before and after paddle boarding, can help improve flexibility and reduce the likelihood of muscle soreness and injuries.

Reduced Muscle Mass

As we get older, we may experience a gradual decline in muscle mass, known as sarcopenia. With reduced muscle mass, our muscles may tire more quickly during physical activities, leading to increased soreness. Regular strength training exercises can help combat the loss of muscle mass and improve our overall strength and endurance, reducing muscle soreness and enhancing performance during paddle boarding.

Slower Recovery

Age can also affect our body’s ability to recover from physical exertion. As we age, our body’s natural healing processes tend to slow down. This slower recovery time can contribute to prolonged muscle soreness after paddle boarding. Staying properly hydrated, getting enough rest, and incorporating active recovery exercises, such as gentle stretching and low-impact activities, can help expedite the recovery process and alleviate muscle soreness.

Hydration and Nutrition


Dehydration can significantly contribute to muscle soreness after paddle boarding. When we’re dehydrated, our muscles are more prone to cramping and fatigue, which can intensify soreness. It’s crucial to stay properly hydrated before, during, and after paddle boarding to maintain optimal muscle function and prevent excessive muscle soreness. Drinking plenty of water and replenishing electrolytes can help combat dehydration and reduce the likelihood of muscle discomfort.

Electrolyte Imbalance

An electrolyte imbalance, often caused by sweating excessively and not adequately replenishing electrolytes, can contribute to muscle soreness. Electrolytes, such as sodium, potassium, and magnesium, play a vital role in muscle function. When these essential minerals are not properly balanced, it can lead to muscle cramps, fatigue, and increased soreness. Consuming electrolyte-rich foods and drinks, such as sports drinks or electrolyte tablets, can help maintain proper balance and minimize muscle soreness.

Inadequate Fuel for Muscles

Insufficient nutrition before or during paddle boarding can result in muscle soreness. Our muscles need fuel in the form of carbohydrates to function efficiently and prevent premature fatigue. If we don’t provide our bodies with enough energy through a well-balanced meal or snack prior to paddle boarding, our muscles may become depleted, leading to increased soreness. It’s important to consume a nutritious meal or snack that includes carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats to provide sustained energy for our muscles and minimize muscle soreness.

In conclusion, there are several reasons why we may feel sore after paddle boarding. Improper technique, muscle fatigue, inadequate warm-up, physical demands, water conditions, inadequate equipment, lack of conditioning, overuse injuries, age and fitness level, as well as hydration and nutrition, all play a role in muscle soreness. By paying attention to these factors and making necessary adjustments, we can reduce muscle soreness, enhance our paddle boarding experience, and promote overall well-being. Remember to listen to your body, gradually increase intensity, and prioritize proper warm-up and post-paddle stretching to minimize soreness and maximize enjoyment on the water.

Why Am I So Sore After Paddle Boarding?

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Diana Hanson
Hi there! I'm Diana Hanson, a SUP enthusiast and paddler with over ten years of experience. I have a deep love for exploring new places and trying out new things on my SUP board. Whether it's gliding across a peaceful lake, navigating a fast-moving river, or riding the exhilarating waves of the ocean, I'm always up for an adventure. As the author of the website SupNoob.com, I am passionate about sharing my knowledge and experience with others. My goal is to help beginners learn the skills needed to paddle safely and confidently. I understand the challenges that novices face when starting out, and I'm dedicated to providing them with valuable tips and advice. But my passion doesn't stop there. I also strive to assist experienced paddlers in taking their skills to the next level. Through SupNoob.com, I constantly update the site with the latest SUP gear reviews, insider tips, and expert advice. My aim is to ensure that everyone, regardless of their skill level, can get the most out of their paddling experience. I take great pride in my work, and I have been fortunate to receive recognition in the form of prizes and rewards for my contributions to the SUP community. It's an honor to be able to share my passion for this incredible sport with others, and I hope that through SupNoob.com, I can inspire and empower fellow SUP enthusiasts to embark on their own unforgettable journeys. Join me on SupNoob.com, and let's dive into the exciting world of SUP together!