What are you wearing on your feet?
Stiff soled shoes will definitely reduce your flexibility and heighten your stress about getting out of the boat. They also contribute to pain and stiffness in your ankles.
I don't know what serious paddlers wear, but I am totally committed to any neoprene booty (or bare feet) in the summer and soft soled chotas in colder weather. For me, even running/tennis shoes are uncomfortable. I tie a pair of shoes to a thwart in case I have to walk.
Moving your feet around easily under the seat involves more than getting out of the boat (voluntarily or otherwise!). It's pretty key in heeling the boat for turns.
Also, when you are paddling for some distance, you want to take your feet out from under the seat and stretch them out or paddle in a different position. You want to be able to do this while the boat is under way.
A huge benefit of canoes over kayaks is that your legs aren't locked into one uncomfortable position. If your legs are stuck under the seat, you are missing one of the wonders of canoes.
Touring Kayak Paddles
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