Kayaking Back Pain and Leg Numbness (Part 2)

Again, according to Isaac Newton’s Third Law whenever a body exerts a force on another body, the latter exerts a force equal magnitude and opposite direction on the former.

This also means that when your torso’s entire weight is combined with the weight of your thighs, and together this weight pushes down against your seat, your seat pushes back up with an equal force on your posterior and lower back.
One more, instead of having your powerful legs support your body weight, you find yourself in a position where you have to support most of your legs’ weight with a part of your body that already supports your torso’s weight.
This vertical pressure is exerted during the whole time you’re seated in the traditional kayaking position. Furthermore, it is combined with the horizontal pressure that your legs exert on your lower back (see part 1), thus enhancing the ergonomic problem in your lower back.
No wonder cushioned seats and various ‘lumbar support’ solutions don’t change much.

Traditional kayaking position

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16 thoughts on “Kayaking Back Pain and Leg Numbness (Part 2)”

  1. Ouch! Impressive graphics. Why is it that cushioning the seat doesn’t seem to help really?

  2. Cushioning can protect your soft tissues from uneven, localized pressure. However, when push comes to shove it’s your skeleton that has to sustain your body in this position, and it’s the bones and cartilage in your lower back that bear the pressure, with the lower part of your spine placed in a difficult position at the intersection between two powerful vectors (forces) that it’s not naturally fit to withstand for long periods of time.

  3. Some people don’t seem to be affected by these problems. What’s their secret?

  4. Young age, light weight and strong abdominal muscles can all work to diminish the unwanted effect of the L position.

  5. A high back rest would intervene with your paddling and fishing movements. The options are very limited.
    Native kayakers didn’t use backrests at all in their kayaks. They were smaller, lighter and in much better physical shape than most of us are today.
    Similarly, if you’re young, lightweight and in top shape you can paddle your sit-in kayak in the L position with neither backrest nor footrests. Some kayakers do that but it’s rare to see one because those who could are basically the same paddlers who have less back problems to begin with.

  6. For most of us, it seems. The good news is that the W is much more tolerant to those things than the old kayaks are.

  7. True but it’s always better to be young lightweight and in good shape when it comes to paddling.

  8. Tell me about it… I hear some doctors tell patients with back problems to stop kayaking!

  9. This information is important for many kayakers. Why don’t you publish an article on this subject in one of the paddling magazines?

  10. I think that’s a kind of question you should ask the editors of those magazines

  11. Haven’t they published anything about your new boat? I find it hard to believe… —Jack

  12. Wavelength Magazine sent a kayaker-reporter to us and published a full story and kayak review.
    Paddler Magazine took the W kayak for an extensive series of tests and had a very favorable article ready for print but eventually they published just a small part of it.
    Other kayaking magazines have shown no interest in our W kayak as a new paddle craft.
    Generally speaking, fishing publications have shown a higher degree of interest.

    You can read the reviews here:


  13. Too bad they don’t pay enough attention to important issues and new developments.
    Mike H.

  14. It’s not a real problem for Wavewalk: Nowadays everybody has access to information through the Internet, and consequently paddling magazines lost their clout.


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