Last October I upgraded my 10 ft. rec boat for a Necky Looksha 14. My problem is that while the seat gave me no problems last year I now suffer increasing pain and numbness in my legs every time I paddle. Last time while crossing a cove (about a mile) against a 15 to 20 mph wind it got so bad I could not feel my feet against the foot rests or tell if I was controlling the rudder at all. I am somwhat worried about being able to safely continue to paddle. Has anyone experienced this and if so what can I do to prevent it.
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Posted by: willi_h2o on Apr-12-13 12:20 AM (EST)
Just as cyclists/joggers do a lot of stretching
Posted by: RubricOfRuin on Apr-12-13 4:00 AM (EST)
you may have a problem with your spine or posture in the seat. I have a shifted disk in my back and while it does not bother me in everyday life, in the boat I need to watch how I'm positioned or my left leg goes all numb with "pins and needles". Also makes rolling on my left side hard, possible, but hard - due to some lack of flexibility to the left. If I'm careful how I sit, then I can avoid it.
Many people find relief...|
Posted by: davbart on Apr-12-13 6:47 AM (EST)
by putting padding in front of the seat supporting the thighs. A pool noodle does a pretty good job. Not to mention it is cheap, and you haven't lost much if it doesn't work.
Support Under Thighs |
Posted by: ShadyClip on Apr-12-13 2:21 PM (EST)
Forward stroke and rotation|
Posted by: Celia on Apr-12-13 8:02 AM (EST)
It is a problem if you are leaning back or not rotating your torso quite actively, all aspects of a less then ideal forward stroke. There may be seat things you can do, or consider putting some support under your thighs, but usually the first stop is to get help on the forward stroke. If you are pedaling and rotating you are immediately less likely to get numbness.
Posted by: Jaybabina on Apr-12-13 8:15 AM (EST)
Here's some info that may help you understand.
Posted by: Peter-CA on Apr-12-13 5:10 PM (EST)
See Issue 4 (Winter 2010) of California Kayaker for an article about outfitting your seat for comfort. Can be read online for free at
what they said, and some more|
Posted by: suiram on Apr-12-13 8:29 AM (EST)
Provided you do not have any medical problems - herniated discs, inched nerves, etc., I suspect lack of technique and bad fit. Bad fit will be combination of too tight a fit, probably seat as well. Lack of technique - as Celia said, you most likely are not using torso rotation, since when torso rotation is used, two things happen - your fit has to be loose enough to allow for quite a bit of movement in the seat, and you legs are always moving, nothing gets numb.
Posted by: Dr_Disco on Apr-12-13 8:50 AM (EST)
Constant pressure on the ball of your foot will lead to pain and numbness. Torso rotation and knee activity as suggested above lead, among other things, to alternating pressure on your feet. While one leg is pushing the other leg is releasing.
Try Nerve Glides or Neural Glides|
Posted by: suzanneh on Apr-12-13 9:09 AM (EST)
Let me preface with you are asking medical questions and I am not a doctor AND I don't even play one on TV. Of course what helped me might not help you and might even harm you. That's the downside of getting help on the internet!
agree with willi. here's a program:|
Posted by: slushpaddler on Apr-12-13 10:13 AM (EST)
Dr. Cox exercises for the back:
seat is the most likely cause|
Posted by: nickjc on Apr-12-13 12:59 PM (EST)
numbness and pain after a mile of paddling sounds more like a serious boat fit problem. If the seat contours don't match your contours you could have some pressure point pushing on a nerve.
Pressure Points, Nerves &Blood Flow|
Posted by: VK1NF on Apr-12-13 6:23 PM (EST)
Kayak seating at the best of times is snug and restrictive, and being in basically one position for hours makes comfortable and supportive seating very important.Often the sort of problems you are describing are caused by pressure on a nerve or blood vessel, often in situations where the legs either rest against a seat's front edge, or the seat is hard enough to press against nerves/blood vessels in the buttocks.
thank you all|
Posted by: chipsanddust on Apr-12-13 9:16 PM (EST)
Thank you for the very good advice. I have had back problems in the past but with a lot of work and exercise I have been essentially pain free for over 10 years now. It was kind of a shock to have problems in the new seat as I originally thought it was quite comfortable. I will do some stretches and do some adjusting on my seat and foot rests then hopefully I can get out for an hour or two Monday afternoon (my one day off this week) at a local pond and see what happens. I have been working on maintaining good torso rotation since early last year when I began having some shoulder pain (I am told I am getting old, who'd a thunk it) and when I was able to paddle over 10 miles with no pain last year I thought I had it down. I will put more practice into maintaining as good a forward stroke as I can and hope for the best.
Find a way to add pedaling if possible|
Posted by: Celia on Apr-13-13 9:05 AM (EST)
Granted this could be tough if you have those darned movable foot pegs for the rudder. But it really helps prevent back and leg pain to pedal, helps rotation as well.
I've had the same problem for years.|
Posted by: bamadevildog on Apr-13-13 8:42 PM (EST)
I'm a tall guy with long legs. When I'm using SOT boats I have no problems. The boats I own are Pygmy boats and my legs are in the boat and pretty much straight out. Not a great position for circulation. As a few here have said, a little support under my thighs to give a little bend in my legs makes a world of difference. For me a rolled up towel is plenty. I haven't tried the noodle.
Posted by: Dr_Disco on Apr-14-13 9:40 PM (EST)
An inflatable paddle float. You can have whatever support you need by how much it is inflated. And the support is broad rather than narrow. And finally, it is a cool way to carry your paddle float.
Posted by: RubricOfRuin on Apr-14-13 1:01 AM (EST)
There is also another "cheap and dirty" comfortable seat. Take a polyester bag of a suitable size and fill it with plastic granules. Then throw it into the boat and sit on it :). Works wonders. I have a friend who swears by this method of seating (and he is 10x better kayaker than I'll ever be).
I had real problems |
Posted by: rpg51 on Apr-14-13 6:50 PM (EST)
like this when I started Kayaking a couple of years ago. After a season of paddling the problem disappeared. I think two things did it. First, I adjusted my seat (W.S. Zephyr) so that it provides some upward support under my thighs and the foot pegs so I am not jammed in there too hard but I still have very good foot, hip and thigh contact. Second I improved my kayak paddling technique so that I sit erect without much back band pressure, I rotate my torso to apply power as I paddle, and I alternate pressure on my foot pegs from side to side as I paddle. I can paddle for hours and hours without troubles now.
Posted by: PHILIPJEDLICKA on Apr-14-13 10:24 PM (EST)
On my last kayak I tried almost everything the other posters mentioned. I traced the problem down to tight neoprene boots. I shifted to looser fitting rubber boots and the pain lessened. Funny thing is the too tight boots work fine in my new boat. So new footwear or new boat !