Biomechanic and Ergonomic Solutions in Kayak Design
This article defines the causes of back pain and discomfort that most people feel when paddling kayaks and fishing from them.
It also explains how Wavewalk's patented invention solves these
problems, and why people who paddle these kayaks and fish out of them
feel neither back pain nor any other discomfort after long hours,
including people with various disabilities, back problems and excess
weight, as well as elderly people.
Have you ever fished out of a kayak? If
you did, you've probably noticed that something is wrong... Simply put,
you weren't feeling comfortable, and you may even experienced pain in
your back and legs, and after some time, all you could wish for was to
get out of that kayak as soon as possible, even if the fish were
is a science also known as Human Factors Engineering.
problem you've experienced is simple, and sooner or later anyone who
paddles kayaks and fishes from them faces it: Spending long hours
paddling and fishing in or on top of an
ordinary kayak, whether it's a sit-in, hybrid or sit-on-top (SOT)
inevitably causes some
circulation problems and leg
numbness, occasional cramps, pain in your lower back, and often fatigue
your shoulders and neck.
In fact, kayaking is so closely associated with back pain that kayakers
commonly appear in TV ads for back pain relief patches and drugs...
After you begin seeking information about your problem and advice on
ways to solve it, you realize that the only thing
that really works is paddling back to shore, standing up, and performing
the exercises that physiotherapists recommend for kayakers.
other words, there is no gear that you can outfit your ordinary kayak
with that can provide an effective and long lasting solution to any of
these symptoms, because they occur as a result of you being
seated in the L position - the traditional sitting position in kayaks,
with your legs stretched in front of you while pushing your back against
your seat's backrest.
2. What Causes the Problem?
Being Seated In The Traditional, L
The problem is caused by a combination of two things:
1. Being seated in a non ergonomic position to
2. Being unable to switch to other positions and
release the stress that builds up in the critical pressure points in
your body, especially in your legs and lower back.
Have you ever asked yourself why
is it that the traditional, L
position is used only in ordinary kayaks and in no other land, snow or
water equipment? The answer is that it's because although the
position is the worst for you it's simply the only one that ordinary
kayaks can offer.
Combined Effect of Horizontal and Vertical Pressure on Your Lower Back:
1. Horizontal Pressure
1 on the
the horizontal pressure
your legs exert on your lower back in the traditional L position used
in all ordinary kayaks including both
sit-in (SIK) and sit-on-top (SOT).
The pressure points in the lower back
region can cause irritation and inflammation of the sciatic nerve
(sciatica) felt as pain traveling from the lower region of your back
down across your lower thigh.
Foot braces and other support for your feet actually increase the
horizontal pressure that your legs exert on your lower back.
back support and foot braces may hold you in your
torso in place and prevent you from falling backwards or slipping
they also limit your freedom of movement, increase pressure on your
lower back, cause leg numbness and cramps and result in increased
the Arctic circle who were the first to
make and paddle kayaks used
neither back rests nor foot braces simply because they were accustomed since
sitting on the floor
with their legs stretched forward, unlike us modern Westerners who lose
this ability in early childhood when we learn to sit on chairs.
2. Vertical Pressure (Weight)
2 on the
the heavy vertical
on the lower
part of your spine when you're seated in the traditional L kayaking
same sensitive area in your spine that's pressurized horizontally by
your legs pushing on it is being pressurized even more by the combined
weight of your torso and thighs, that is nearly all your body
Your legs are prevented from supporting your body weight in this
addition, sitting in the L position without being able to change your
body position increases your fatigue and discomfort, and reduces both
performance and fun.
Cushioning your seat doesn't really solve any of these problems since
all it can do is spread the pressure from a single point to a wider
area, but the combined pressure is still there and it keeps working on
your lower back all the time. Sooner or later you feel very
uncomfortable, and sometime it's too late since you've already been
in the L position with no adequate support for either back or feet is
not a sensible solution for modern anglers and paddlers who have to
kayaking and fishing from this low and uncomfortable position.
Food for thought:
If you had to perform some hard work or other physical
activity in any position of your choice, would you even consider doing
it sitting with your legs stretched forward like this?
fish or do you know anybody who fishes seated in this position from
shore or from any other type of fishing
answer is: No.
More food for thought:
Airplane coach seats are fairly comfortable - certainly more than
regular kayak seats, but why is it that after some
time most people feel uneasy sitting in them? The answer is
that the limited space makes it difficult for you to change positions,
leads to the buildup of discomfort and fatigue to a point where many
people feel they must stand up and stretch, and those who can afford it
themselves to fly first class next time - if only for the extra legroom.
Not all damages are felt
Sometimes it takes years for the damage to accumulate, and by then it
might be too late to fix it. This is true for back and
do cross-country motorbikes, mountain bikes, horses, snowmobiles,
all-terrain vehicles (ATV) and personal watercraft (PWC) have in
common? It's the Riding
And what do skiing, surfing, water skiing, dog sledding, snowboarding,
windsurfing, skating and skateboarding have in common? -The Standing
simply because the Riding and Standing positions are the best for you
in both ergonomic and biomechanic terms, which means they offer best
control and more power, and result in less fatigue and injuries.
we need to
make long efforts during motion we have more
available power and better control standing or sitting with our legs
lower than our upper body (biomechanic advantage),
and we also feel more comfortable and less tired this way (ergonomic advantage).
Engineering the Optimal Solution
a solution to be optimal you it should first
you the best support to your physical effort, and in the
case of fishing from kayaks it means maximal lateral stability. Then it
must enable you to both paddle and fish in the most ergonomically
advantageous positions, and give you the ability to switch between
these positions anytime, which is exactly what the patented W Fishing
Kayak does. Freedom to Choose = Less Fatigue = Enhanced Comfort = More Fun + Healthier Paddling and Fishing
Only the W kayak solution departs
radically from the L
position and offers a new, comprehensive and effective approach to
all ergonomic and biomechanic issues in paddling and paddle fishing.
patented W Kayak re-distributes buoyancy from the boat's longitudinal
axis all the way to its two sides, and thus offers maximal support to
user's balancing, control, steering, propulsion and fishing
The central part
of the W Kayak, its 'backbone', which joins the two hulls, is
like a long, 14" high saddle.
W kayakers can move
back and forth along the saddle, according to their need (e.g.
in strong wind, launching, etc.). They can also
switch anytime between numerous
ergonomic positions, as shown below:
The Natural Position
is the most stable and comfortable position, and it
offers best control over your boat and the most leverage on
the Riding position your thighs, legs and feet are positioned directly
your body and take active part in all your efforts: Balancing, Control
is the best
position for beginning W Kayakers. It
the best position in whitewater and surfing applications.
(mounting) the W saddle
Note that your legs support your upper body from both sides, and your feet are in a direct vertical line below your body.
Riding is the preferred position, rivaling only with standing. When you
cast riding you have more power than
when casting in the sitting position.
Riding a W
similar to mounting a
upper body rests on the saddle and your thighs hold its sides, while
each foot rests firmly on the bottom of a hull, as it would in
position is similar to the riding position used in other high
performance vehicles such All Terrain Vehicles (ATV), Snowmobiles, and
your legs positioned in front of your body.
positions are less stable and
powerful than Riding, and not recommended
for beginning W Kayakers, or for paddling in moving water.
sitting positions are good for relaxing on flat water.
a back rest (lumbar support) is not necessary in the W kayak,
and few W kayakers choose to outfit their boat with such an accessory.
2. Sitting legs stretched forward
Regular sitting, which is similar to
sitting in a canoe
Sitting with both legs stretched forward
Mixed: one leg in the regular position and
the other stretched forward
A paddling position used by some racing and whitewater
You can kneel on one knee
Kneel') or on
both knees. You may use either a
double blade or
single blade paddle.
If your knees don't reach the bottom of the hulls you can use
padding as seen in the right side image
In the W kayak,
offer any particular advantage, and you get both more power and
stability in the Riding position.
Stand Up Kayak - For Real
stand up paddling is often described as a feature offered by many
kayaks and stand up paddle boards out there, but nothing could be
further from the truth -
In fact, when it comes to
who are neither lightweight
nor extremely athletic,
only W kayaks offer the possibility to
and fish standing up in comfort and confidence, and
only W kayaks offer a critical safety
feature in the form of a 14" high saddle to fall on, in case you lose
To understand what standing up in a kayak really means from
all aspects, including ergonomics, safety, stability and
balance, go to this website's Stand
Up Paddling and Fishing section >
You can paddle on both sides of the boat or just on one side- in
parallel and with a J stroke.
After some practicing you can try to paddle standing in moving water
and in the surf.
Riding and Sitting
You can paddle and fish with one leg in the Riding position and the
placed forward in the regular sitting position, or entirely stretched
Such positions are quite powerful, and can be useful for counteracting
a lateral current or
wind, and as yet more options for reducing fatigue in long trips.
One Leg Folded on the Saddle Top
position can be pretty comfortable when you spend time in one place and
need to operate a fishing rod or a camera on one side of the boat.
is sometimes useful when two people paddle in tandem using single blade
(canoe) paddle - each on a different side of the boat.
is key to comfort and good ergonomics. The patented W
Kayak offers unmatched stability trough a unique combination of three
buoyancy is sensibly distributed along its sides, instead of being
wasted along its central,
passengers make natural use of their legs and feet to balance
themselves by shifting their weight sideways, from one leg to another,
they apply this weight directly to the bottom of the hulls - below
waterline, thus creating an effect of 'dynamic ballast'.
immersed profiles of the
boat's twin hulls act as multiple 'Hard Chines', thus offering
maximal lateral resistance, and unmatched initial (primary)
W Kayak offers you the ability to throw to longer distances, which
presents two advantages:
1. Being able to cover more water from a stationary
position before you need to move your kayak
2. Some fish species can sense the presence of your
are better caught
from a distance.
For more information visit our website's Shallow
Water Fishing section
When fighting powerful fish you want to be in full control of your
kayak, and the W kayak offers you all the means for it. Read More
6. The Cockpit - A Place To Be In, And Work In
kayak's cockpit has other functions besides protecting you and offering
It is also a workplace in which you store your gear and handle it.
all the gear you need is within arm's reach, and there's no chance of
going overboard since in case it slips out of your hand it would end
at the bottom of one of the hulls, where it's easy for you to
- Can I outfit the W kayak cockpit with a seat on top of the saddle?
Most W kayakers don't add anything to their W kayak's saddle,
because they find it perfectly comfortable.
Some people cover the saddle
with a blanket or a thin foam mattress.
Adding a kayak seat to the W
kayak saddle is easy, but virtually no one does it. We know of a couple W anglers who outfitted their W
kayaks with lightweight swivel chairs, and a couple more who added a
DIY reclining back rest because of scoliosis problems.
In fact, you can simply drop a plastic chair or a
lawn chair in the cockpit, as seen here in this image, but hardly no one
does it, simply because the W saddle offers the best comfort.
Read more about what it's like to fish from a lawn chair in your W kayak's cockpit >