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  Thigh support idea
  Posted by: Waterbird on May-16-13 10:39 PM (EST)
   Category: Kayaks 

I tried out a thigh support idea and found it worked very well. I cut a pool noodle long enough that it would curve out a few inches in front of the seat. I cut another piece a few inches shorter and taped the two pieces one on top of the other, with the shorter piece on the bottom. I stuffed the two long ends securely under the preexisting hip pads---nothing else was needed to secure them (but your kayak is probably different so YMMV).

I was surprised at how much comfort this simple solution added. The key is to use two sections so the final product is several inches high.

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Messages in this Topic

 

  Huh?
  Posted by: carldelo on May-16-13 11:32 PM (EST)
I'm not understanding the set-up from the description. If you have a photo, please link to it, as I have an abiding interest in thigh bracing to reduce numb-leg syndrome - thanks in advance...
 
 
  Sorry, no photos
  Posted by: Waterbird on May-17-13 1:32 PM (EST)
I'm terrible at posting photos.

Let me try again. The object is to build a cushion that is high enough and that extends out far enough from the seat. The whole thigh problem could be solved if the seat were high enough in front and long enough. The best seat I know of that does this is found in the Elie Ergoflex seat, which I think you can purchase separately. http://www.eliesport.com/about-us/technologies-and-materials/ergoflex-seating-system-seat.html

Do you have hip pads and does there happen to be a space under them? That's the case in my kayak. That space can be used to secure the ends of a pool noodle. If not, there will be some other way to secure the noodle to your seat or to the sides of the kayak.

Two pool noodles glued one lying on top of the other are about the right height for thigh relief. The noodles come in a couple of diameters.

The longer you cut the noodle, the farther out it will curve from the seat. Adjust the length for your comfort.

I tried this setup for about 3 hours yesterday and it was the most comfortable thing I've tried. I had no thigh pain and because the thigh is supported it also reduced lower back pain.

I also find that padding under the calf or ankle is helpful.
 
 
  OK, got it...
  Posted by: carldelo on May-17-13 3:10 PM (EST)
I understand the setup now, I may give it a try soon as I have some cut noodles lying around and they will probably wedge in one of my boats in the manner you suggest.

I used a partially inflated paddle float crosswise in front of the seat for a while on one boat, which worked pretty well. I never secured it with velcro or anything, so it moved around and was annoying. The inflatable nature of it made it so that when working the legs up and down during hard paddling, it naturally accommodated one leg flattening out while the other was bent.

Thanks for the link to the Elie seat - looks heavy, and pricey too, I suppose. But I have one boat that has never had a comfortable seat in it, and that one might do the trick.
 
 
  Does it affect pedaling ?
  Posted by: Celia on May-17-13 7:04 AM (EST)
As in for torso rotation. When I pedal, the pushing leg goes flatter than the other. From the read, it seems like having both propped tightly would inhibit that. But maybe I missed something.
 
 
  Another possibility
  Posted by: magooch on May-17-13 7:57 AM (EST)
I used to use a small inflatible boat fender. However, the real answer is a lot more time in the cockpit. Eventually the need for such devices goes away.
 
 
  More time in the cockpit, eh?
  Posted by: Waterbird on May-17-13 1:20 PM (EST)
I can say without a doubt that my time in the cockpit has caused or added significantly to fairly substantial anatomical problems. First you've got the knee being forced down and out, putting pressure on the hip. Goodbye hip joint. Then you've got the hip flexor muscle deciding to shrink in length and stay tight forever. That's the muscle that goes from the top of the thigh into the lower back. As it retracts it causes considerable pain in the lower back.

Sitting in a kayak is about like sitting in your office chair all day---the trunk and leg muscles contract and then stay that way.
 
 
  "Propped tightly"
  Posted by: Waterbird on May-17-13 1:47 PM (EST)
would depend on the depth of your cockpit. My cockpit is a bit too low for me. I removed the thigh braces which allows one leg to be up and the other down for relief.
 
 
  I guess...
  Posted by: Celia on May-17-13 2:27 PM (EST)
-- Last Updated: May-17-13 2:58 PM EST --

I am still not quite seeing how you can get your leg flat to the bottom of the boat with two diameters of a pool noodle under each thigh. But I will accept that it is working for you.

As to deck height, I have probably significantly lower decks than you. Others can't fit into my boats. But I still have full flex in there.

I noticed one thing in your reply above - an apparent reference to the froggy legged thing. FWIW, I also find that terribly uncomfortable and have rejected trying to live with any boats that get me deeply into that position. It is why most of the Eddyline boats, at least the older designs, never worked for me. I was way too splayed out to the side to hit the thigh braces for long term comfort.

There are boats that will set you up to be literally more straight ahead on your leg angles, albeit they are sometimes on the narrower side as swell.

 
 
  Object is not to flatten your leg
  Posted by: Waterbird on May-18-13 6:08 PM (EST)
It's to support the leg naturally in a way that relieves tension from the ankle to the thigh and into the lower back.

Yup, unfortunately I am referring to Eddyline but maybe not to the same problem as you. When you lack flexibility in your hips, the knee refuses to go down into a lotus position. If you force it, as with too-low thigh braces, it hurts like heck. I actually did some permanent damage to my hip joint by sitting in the forced frog position for about eight hours one day. I cut the thigh braces out after that trip but my hip never recovered.

When you spend too much time sitting the hip flexor muscle shortens so that the knee always wants to remain bent.


 
 
  So are you not pedaling?
  Posted by: Celia on May-18-13 11:46 PM (EST)
-- Last Updated: May-19-13 7:05 AM EST --

Back to my original question then, which seems to have gone by. I tend to bring my legs close to straight (as in knee barely bent) for two reasons. One is as part of pedaling, alternating legs, to enhance torso rotation by freeing up the hip. I push back one hip at a time as part of the stroke.

The other is to allow them to lie completely relaxed and loose, to break tension. This is the complete opposite action and of course doesn't help torso rotation at all. But there are situations where I can get what I want just by shifting my weight into the bulge.

So it sounds like you are not pedaling when you use this arrangement, or at least it is not allowing an angle that would produce a relatively straight line force on each hip.

The froggy issue with me was the sideways side - where my thigh is rotated a good bit outwards from the hip to get the lower end under a thigh brace. Whether that happens with a higher or lower deck is not as important as the outward rotation itself. It's a lousy angle for me over a full day of paddling.

It sounds like you have some definite restrictions on your ability to pedal. Have you found any modalities - Pilates, yoga or whatever - that have helped with mitigating the stress in the hip/thigh area?

 
 
  Not pedalling, no
  Posted by: Waterbird on May-19-13 11:47 AM (EST)
The problem with the straig legs and knees, for some people, is that the muscles of the calf and thigh are connected up with the muscles of the lower back, as with the thigh flexor, which runs right into the lower back.

Whenever you're bent over, as in seated, those muscles contract. If you do that for a long time, they can contract permanently or spasm. The whole back/thigh/calf muscles become very tight and painful.

Without a thigh support, the thigh muscle has to hold itself up, which means it's continually contracted.

So I don't find that straightening the legs "allows them to lie completely relaxed and loose." For me it aggravates the tightness.

Yes, the frog issue you describe is what I meant. Really, really bad for the hip, this all-day lotus angle. If the cockpit or thigh braces are too low for you, your knee is forced into this position. Seriously, I permanently damaged my hip this way.

The only thing that has helped me is biking. That seems to stretch out and stimulate the muscles without causing more damage. I stretch my hip flexor constantly throughout the day but it returns to its tightness with a few minutes as soon as I sit down. I would love to hear suggestions for how to PERMANENTLY stretch the hip flexor.

 
 
  Most people don't stretch properly
  Posted by: Guideboatguy on May-19-13 1:51 PM (EST)
-- Last Updated: May-19-13 3:00 PM EST --

Years ago I did what I thought was "a lot" of stretching to improve flexibility, but never accomplished a thing. Then I got into martial arts and learned how to stretch in such a way as to actually accomplish something - incredible results, actually. Nearly everyone I've met since then who stretches does so the way I used to do, and has gained no flexibility at all as a result.

There are whole books devoted to the topic of stretching, but here are some things that help a lot.

1. Stretch while hot. If you belong to a gym, use the steam room or sauna, or just take a really hot bath at home (as hot as you can stand it). Then do your stretching work. Stretching when hot after working really hard for a while is good, but the use of "external heat" is helpful for those times you want to stretch but have not been exercising (or for those people who can't). A few minutes spent stretching cold, even many times throughout the day, accomplishes virtually nothing.

2. Long, moderate-effort stretches are better than short hard ones, but once you are really warmed up and have worked your way past the initial point of being injury prone (it takes me a good ten or 15 minutes of genuine hard work to reach that point), shorter, hard stretches are okay. But never "bounce" on a stretch.

3. It takes months of really hard work to gain enough flexibility to actually notice the improvement during daily activities, and years to make a really big difference. It's really no different than any other kind of physical training. You wouldn't jog at an easy pace for 50 yards, even several times a day, and expect to become any better at long-distance running, would you? Same goes for flexibility. If you want to become more flexible, don't expect it to happen without serious, hard work and dedication.

4. If you've done the work necessary to make flexibility gains, short stretches prior to a paddling will be much more effective because they won't be done for the same purpose as the stretches you are doing now. That'll make sense to you when the time comes - In fact, you won't even feel like the same person.

Oh, I really can't make sense of your statement that muscles associated with hip flexing need to be stretched. It's the muscles which oppose flexing which need to be stretched to allow easy, relaxed sitting in a kayak. If the flexor muscles are uncomfortable, something else is going on, but that's still a good reason to stretch both groups of muscles associated with each joint (the opposing muscle groups) rather than just those that protest during certain activities. I bet that stretching those hamstrings will help fix whatever problem the flexors are experiencing.

 
 
  Lotus
  Posted by: jsmarch on May-22-13 2:09 PM (EST)
I wouldn't blame the Lotus position. I've spent years cumulatively sitting Burmese or half-lotus, including a month long meditation retreat in April with 10-14 hours of sitting meditation each day. No hip problems so far...

Might be that it just doesn't agree with you and that you might do better with a more Greenland knees together and lower position or with one of the more knees up paddling styles. Personally, I prefer to paddle Greenland but it isn't because my hips hurt.

Hope you find a comfortable position. Sometimes just relaxing, resting in the body including the parts that hurt a bit, makes all the difference. It is also true that you have to paddle a while for the body to adjust to whatever position you chose. On meditation retreats, beginners (and some who should know better) spend most of the retreat building pillow fortresses trying to get comfortable when what they need is a daily practice between retreats so that the body can adjust.
 
 
  One size does NOT fit all
  Posted by: guideboatguy on May-22-13 2:34 PM (EST)
-- Last Updated: May-22-13 2:45 PM EST --

As one who spent 8 years doing really severe flexibility training, and routinely working out with 50 to 70 others having a similar mindset (I continue this at a more relaxed level these days, but a level that's still often far more severe than most people would ever attempt), I know that certain people simply don't react well to positions that require the feet/legs to rotate outward. Those that can't tolerate such positions usually feel it in either the knees or the hips. Straining the knees with that motion has the potential to do real damage and in that case one should never "train through" the pain, but that's not to say that straining the hips is a tolerable alternative. Depending on the exact nature of the limitation, training might or might not solve the problem. When it comes to splayed feet/hips, what worked for one person is no indication of what someone else can accomplish.

By the way, the position in which one feels discomfort may not be the best position to adopt for targeted flexibility training. It's usually possible to target the responsible muscles without involving a weak link (like a knee joint that might be stressed in a direction for which it was not designed) in some body position other than the one where limited range of motion is an issue.

 
 
  everyone is different
  Posted by: slushpaddler on May-17-13 6:04 PM (EST)
...but the only thing that works for me is keeping my legs moving and changing position. trying to keep my knees together whenever possible, pulling out of the brace position/knees on underdeck/feet in footpedals. I've tried propping up my thighs but it only seemed to delay the discomfort.
 
 
  Are we talking sea kayak?
  Posted by: Dr_Disco on May-19-13 12:07 PM (EST)
Assuming yes, the best thigh support in my experience is an inflatable paddle float. By inflating it to the correct amount you get a support that allows pedaling. You can push with one leg while you flatten it and simultaneously raise the other leg. The paddle float adjusts in response by becoming bigger on the end under the raised leg and smaller on the other end. When both legs are at rest they should not be tight up against the thigh braces. In addition your seat should be positioned so that your butt rotates on the seat as you rotate your torso. You can also switch to the legs in the center (still on the pegs but in the vertical position like that used by racers) if conditions allow. Legs in the center will seem tippy at first, especially if you don't rotate your torso, but you will adjust quickly. Remember the best brace is a forward stroke.
 
 
  I used a Sealine cushion
  Posted by: just1more on May-19-13 11:50 PM (EST)
I love it as i can inflate/deflate in a second to fit me for the particular day and even in different kayaks. I love its adjustability but not the price.
 
 
  Sealine price
  Posted by: Waterbird on May-20-13 1:34 PM (EST)
I think I saw one for $60 the other day. It looked a bit short. Pool noodles $1 each. :-)
 
 
  I get the price difference
  Posted by: Dr_Disco on May-20-13 6:05 PM (EST)
but you get what you pay for. A two chamber paddle float does cost a little less than $50. But you get the ability to adjust it on the fly and the conforming to your legs while paddling. And compared to the Sealine you can also use it as a paddle float (self rescues, support for injured or ill paddler when you have to tow them, etc.) So YMMV but I still think the paddle float version is superior, especially if you are going to carry a paddle float anyway (you are, aren't you?).
 
 
  pool noodles are an annual expenditure
  Posted by: slushpaddler on May-21-13 7:44 AM (EST)
If you keep them in the sunlight, maybe even biannual.
 
 
  What I did
  Posted by: dajarr on May-20-13 7:04 PM (EST)
was glue 3" thick foam in front of the seat. It raises the thighs and stays put. Another thing that really helped was loosening the backband so that I can move around and stretch freely. I also do a fair amount of stretching on a regular basis.
 

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