Paddle Therapy

Last week I decided to get back out into the water to test a shoulder injury I sustained in January. Gravity left me with a torn rotator cuff and shoulder labrum, and until recently I didn’t think kayaking would even be possible. I’ve been doing physical therapy for a few months now, and facing surgical repair, I decided to give it a try before having surgery. Maybe I could get a few trips in this summer before the surgery and 6 months of rehab happened.

So I visited Quemahoning reservoir in Holsopple, PA. Just a few miles south of Johnstown, Quemahoning is a 900 acre reservoir with a public access area. The name is from the language of the native Delaware tribes, and means something like “a stream issuing from a lick in a pine grove”. There are tent sites, picnic areas, a playground, and cabin rentals. There is also a place to inexpensively rent kayaks, which is what I did. I got an old Pelican, a wide sit-in kayak that reminded me of my first. A veritable tub that’s nearly impossible to tip over. It may not track well, but does the job for a rental.

I planned for an hour’s rental, but ended up doubling that, as the day was beautiful, my shoulder was doing fine, and I was reminded how peaceful paddling out in the middle of a large body of water can be. It was absolutely therapeutic.

Watery toes, no woes

There’s some sort of kids’ camp near the public access area, and camp was in session. So the reservoir wasn’t exactly quiet, but there were some quieter places on the other side, and probably farther away. For the vast amount of water, there were no powerboats. They may be more prevalent on weekends, but I can’t say I missed them.

Quiet shoreline

I’m scheduled for surgery a month from now, so I hope to return here for a longer visit to get in more paddle therapy.

For a serene, few minute video, click here.

Author: mettatsunami

In 2009 I was working full time in medicine, and living a life that was alienated from what I truly valued. While volunteering with a local hospice, I began to wonder: "What would I do differently if I had six months to live?". This began the impetus to change direction. While it has been a case of two steps forward, one step back in many ways, there has still been slow movement in the direction of a more authentic life. Since the pivotal decision to change direction, I have been a Buddhist nun, returned to lay life, changed Buddhist schools, returned to medicine part time, and then full time, quit again, traveled extensively, trained in yoga, spent time in several Buddhist monasteries, and am in the process of how to live according with Buddhist and yogic practice and values, and how to streamline this life into something worthwhile. In the Theravadan Buddhist practice, one of the daily reflections is "Has my practice born fruit with freedom or insight, so that at the end of my life, I need not feel ashamed when questioned by my spiritual companions?". That is my practice. My goal in this blog is to share the journey along the way.

12 thoughts on “Paddle Therapy”

  1. Glad you’re out there, giving it a try – and it seems to have worked. Maybe you can delay your surgery ?????? or strengthen those surrounding muscles, realizing torn is torn. Best wishes to you!!!! Enjoy paddling.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! The shoulder is in a rapidly closing window of effectiveness for surgery, and delaying it any longer would mean more damage later on. So even though the PT has done great, it’s not going to repair a full thickness tear. Hopefully by having the surgery done next month I can be ready to paddle again by next spring!


  2. To help yourself, stick to paddling the edges of a body of water- usually less wind. Some kayaks are light-40 pounds and do track well. If you ever buy one they are out there. Also if you buy one they now have a hullivator that comes down from your roof rack to the side of your car. You load the kayak at door handle level and tie it down. It is easy to move back up to the top of the car. It saves people who have had injuries like you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Sharon! For now the best option seems to be renting, but in the future it’s good to see such things are out there. I also saw a suction mounted roller device that one can mount on the back of the car to assist in rolling the kayak into place. I’ll see what condition the shoulder is in next spring, and see if having my own kayak makes sense at that point. Fun to think about though!


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