When holding an ergonomic kayak paddle, it is important to remember that the correct portion to hold is the part between the bends. This does not allow the paddlers to change the spacing of the grip, but it is more comfortable for my paddling. Two years ago, when I started paddling regularly, I noticed that my index finger on my right hand was a little strained. This may be due to gripping the paddle too tightly, but I was aware of this and tried to make sure that this was not the problem.
If the paddle is separated into two pieces and held in paddling position, conventional paddle halves would not be co-linear. When the paddle is assembled and used in paddling, the tensile forces in the fingers are not uniformly distributed. This may be a factor in some cases or may just be a matter of preference. Many experienced paddlers have used both kinds of paddles for long periods of time without any trouble.
Paddle blades also impact the feel and responsiveness of a paddle. A narrow bladed paddle is often better for long distances while a wide bladed one will often give better traction and acceleration. I have also found that paddles feel better when they are inserted with the far edge of the blade roughly parallel to the surface of the water. I had the opportunity to try a white water paddle in my sea kayak. The blade is more spoon shaped and allows for much faster speeds. When using this paddle, I found that I was doing more of a power stroke than my normal forward stroke with the black Werner Kalliste paddle shown.
The Werner Kalliste is an excellent paddle. I have to be careful when launching and not use the paddle to pry myself off the shore. I am sure that this would lead to a damaged paddle if I did this regularly. The composite Kalliste paddle only weighs 26 ounces, so it is easy to use all day on the water. Its design allows for smooth linking between strokes and provides a sense of cruising around the inlets in the Chesapeake Bay.
Selecting a paddle is all about personal preference, and trying many types of paddles is a great idea before buying a paddle. Paddles come in a wide range of styles and sizes and many offer reduced diameter shafts for those with smaller hands. Many outfitters offer "Demo Days" where they allow people to take boats and paddles for a test-drive.