Tag Archive: biomechanics

Biomechanics is the study of the action of external and internal forces on the living body, esp. on the skeletal system. Biomechanics is important in understanding paddling kayaks and fishing out of them, two activities known for causing ergonomic problems, including fatigue, discomfort, pain and even injuries.
Paddling Wavewalk kayaks and fishing from them offer considerable bio mechanical advantages compared to paddling traditional kayaks and fishing from them.
More on the biomechanics of kayaking and kayak fishing

More is less in your fishing kayak’s cockpit – Too much stuff and too little fishability

Kayak manufacturers seem to be locked in an arms race intended to make their fishing kayaks relevant to the average angler out there. This epic struggle for market survival produces kayak designs that are increasingly dysfunctional, or lack ‘fishability‘ if we use the term that anglers commonly use.
The most obvious manifestation of this trend is the proliferation of those enormous, extra-wide, cumbersome, hard to paddle, heavy and practically impossible to carry or car top kayaks known as ‘barges’.
But it’s not just the size of those beastly yaks that makes one wonder whether they defeat the purpose of kayak fishing, nor the fact that their manufacturers tout them as being suitable for fishing standing (they’re not, unless you’re an aspiring acrobat) – It’s the fact that they’ve become overly accessorized, to a point where it’s increasingly hard for their users to fish from them.

What’s an overly accessorized fishing kayak?

An overly accessorized fishing kayak is a kayak that makes it hard for you to fish from it –
We’ve already talked about kayak rudders, and the fact that they slow down the kayak and impose on the paddler yet another activity (I.E. steering) they’d rather do without.
But one may argue that tracking in one of those heavy and extra-wide kayaks is impossible without a rudder, especially in the presence of wind and/or current, so let’s focus on the cockpit area, sometimes called the ‘deck’ in SOT and hybrid kayak models –
The kayak’s cockpit, or deck, should provide the angler with maximum range of motion and comfort, and in this sense any additional item attached in or on it is potentially counterproductive.
Furthermore, the negative effect of any additional object in such a restricted space is amplified due to the fact that it encroaches on an already diminished space.
This is yet another example of how the fundamental economics law of diminishing returns works: At some point more is less.

The foot brace – don’t put your foot in it

To begin with, the big ‘barge’ kayak’s cockpit features sophisticated foot braces that take too much room away from the user’s feet and legs. Let’s face it – being seated for a long period of time is not a pleasant thing, especially when you’re wet or partially wet and you’re stuck in the notorious L kayaking posture that causes discomfort, leg numbness and back pain. Therefor, being able to move your legs is important, and restricting the space available for your feet and legs to move works to aggravate the problem – Think traveling coach in an airliner, and the magnitude and severity of this ergonomic problem would become clearer to you, especially if you’re neither a small, skinny or young and physically fit person.

The seat of the problem

The kayak’s foot braces are paired with its seat. In the past decade, kayak manufacturers became somehow aware of the huge back pain problem that users experience when paddling and fishing while being seated in the L position, so they stuffed their kayaks’ seats with more foam and more gel, without achieving any noteworthy results: These kayaks kept being uncomfortable for normal people to use, and they kept inducing back pain and leg numbness.
Then came the new trend of higher kayak seats, and seats offering adjustable height. These larger seats are typically made from woven material stretched over a light metal frame, and their shape is reminding of some beach seats or stadium seats.
The basic idea behind this kayak seat design is to allow the user to sit a few inches higher, and by doing so alleviate some of the pressure exerted on their lower back, also known as lumbar spine.
Does this work? -Not really, and the reason has to do with the faulty ergonomic reasoning behind it: The fact that the angler sits higher yet they keep their basic position with their legs stretched in front of them makes more of a challenge for them to balance their kayak, as the boat’s center of gravity goes higher although its user isn’t given better means to stabilize it with their body.
The only thing you can do is try to stretch your legs a little more and increase muscle tension in them. This means you have to make a bigger physical effort, continuously, and therefor exert more horizontal pressure on your back, thus increasing discomfort, fatigue, and eventually pain. Problem unsolved.
The seat’s higher and wider backrest is in the way of the kayaker’s shoulders and upper arms when they paddle and cast lines. It further restricts the little range of motion they have, and further limits their ability to change positions and give their back and neck some respite.
Simply put, the L kayaking position imposed by the unstable mono-hull kayak design is not a problem, it’s a given. This is to say that it does not have a real solution – only false ones. The way to get rid of discomfort and pain when you paddle a kayak or fish from it is to ride the saddle of a stable W kayak.

More stuff that means less room and less fun for you

Another way in which kayak manufacturers manage to restrict their clients’ range of motion and ability to fish comfortably and in a way that makes sense is by sticking a variety of accessories between their legs. These items range from storage hatches to fishfinder consoles, cup holders, bottle holders, elevated rod holders, and so on.
The result is a critical absence of free space for you to handle your tackle, take care of your lines and lures, and catch fish – if and when they happen to land one in the space between your legs, right on top of the fishfinder, rod holder, or cup holder…
This attempt to simulate the design of a jet fighter’s cockpit in which everything is within the pilot’s arm’s reach is dysfunctional to the point of being pathetic, but amazingly, the problem doesn’t end here –

A standing problem

Kayak manufacturers are engaged in a verbal competition, and one of the hottest fronts in this battle is over the notion of kayak fishing standing. Kayak manufacturers have come to realize that in order to get anglers interested in their kayaks they need show that their kayaks are stable.  The best way to do is to show someone fishing standing in the kayak’s cockpit. Whether this scenario is practical for the average middle aged or elderly angler out there, or for anglers who happen to be somehow overweight, or tall, or suffer from balancing issues is a whole different story. The same problem applies to those kayaks’ stability in real-world conditions, such as when the stand-up angler loses balances for some reason, and they’re required to sit down swiftly in order to regain it…
Furthermore, who wants to stand up and fish while constantly having to pay attention to their balance and allocating considerable physical and mental resources to such task?
If you stand in a boat and fish from it, you need to be able to focus on fishing and on nothing else, and you want to enjoy fishing without a little red light blinking in the back of your head warning you to watch out and maintain your precarious balance or you’d go swimming with your tackle…
How is this related to superfluous accessories? – Well, kayak manufacturers devised yet another way to clutter the decks of their fishing kayak models, and they do it all the way by outfitting their top of the line models with lean bars –

Lean at your own risk – the lean bar

What’s a lean bar, or lean frame? It’s a large size, folding metal frame that the angler can erect in the front part of their kayak’s deck. The idea behind this device is that when the angler stands up in their mono-hull (sit-in, SOT or hybrid) kayak they feel unstable (duh!), and they would like to lean on something in order to feel less unstable.
It’s a purely psychological notion, since such bar cannot increase the actual (physical, I.E. real-world) stability that the kayak offers, because what determines that kayak’s stability are its form and size, in other words – its design.
This is to say that a lean bar may offer the angler some (potentially hazardous) illusion of stability in a best case scenario, while significantly reducing the kayak’s fishability by  adding to the already severe clutter in its cockpit.
In fact, such a large-size metal frame stuck in front of the angler is a perfect recipe for a perfect storm when one considers things that constantly move in that space, such as fishing poles, fishing lines, fishhooks, lures and bait, as well as fish – from time to time…

But wait, there’s more!

Yes, unbelievably so, kayak manufacturers found ways to stick even more stuff in front and around anglers who attempt to fish out of such barge kayaks: Among these unproductive objects are live bait tanks and live fish tanks… and even the pedals of a pedal drive that you, the angler can push or rotate with your feet, while attempting to stabilize yourself with one hand and manipulating the rudder with the other. Go figure why these tedious and simultaneous activities are being promoted as ‘hands-free fishing’…

And if you thought that’s where the ridicule stops, a closer look at ads for those humongous and rather dysfunctional fishing kayaks would reveal to you a plethora of additional objects and large-size systems offered to populate your kayak’s already crammed cockpit.
Among these things are sailing rigs that you can try to manipulate while pushing the pedals of the drive offering illusory ‘hands-free’ fishing, and wheel carts to help you drag these super-heavy barges from your vehicle to the water and back, since there is no way this could be done without such a cart.
Some over creative manufacturers offer special horizontal holders to protect your fishing rod tips from low-lying tree limbs…

Keep it simple

Observing the cockpit of one of those barge fishing kayaks can be a stupefying experience. The intense clutter in such a restricted place demands that you, the angler, possess an unlimited amount of good will coupled with impressive acrobatic skills.
But what if you have neither?
The solution is simple: Get a fishing kayak that features a real cockpit offering enough room for you to paddle and fish in full comfort and confidence, as well as enough room for you to store and handle whatever gear you want to have on board, without it becoming a nightmare.
This simple solution is exactly what the W kayak offers you. Simple is good.

Articles

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DIRECTORY SECTIONS

CHOOSING A KAYAK | STABILITY | MOTORIZING | FISHING | PADDLING | ERGONOMICS | DESIGN | OUTFITTING

Choosing a kayak

  1. Fishing Kayak Reviews -What Do Wavewalk Users Say?
  2. SOT kayak stability, or lack thereof
  3. A decade later – Review of the Wavewalk 500 (W500) kayak
  4. Wavewalk S4 review by its own designer
  5. Happy Birthday W700!
  6. Pedal drive for my fishing kayak?
  7. Review of my Wavewalk 700
  8. Why I became a Wavewalk kayak owner By Michael Chesloff
  9. A Fair-Weather Fishing Kayak…
  10. How to Save Money When Buying a Fishing Kayak
  11. Are SOT Kayaks Safe For Offshore Fishing?
  12. How to Choose a Fishing Kayak That’s Best For You
  13. What Color and Form for My Fishing Kayak?

Stability

  1. Fishing Kayak Stability
  2. SOT kayak stability, or lack thereof
  3. Outriggers
  4. Boat stability in a kayak
  5. A stable kayak for photography
  6. How effective are outriggers for your fishing kayak’s stability?
  7. Do Not Overload Your Fishing Kayak
  8. How Effective Can Fishing Kayaks’ Outriggers Be?
  9. What Makes The Wavewalk 500 The Stablest Fishing Kayak
  10. Kayak Fishing Standing – And What If? (Stuff Happens)
  11. Stability in Fishing Kayaks – Problems and Solutions

Motorizing

  1. Motorizing Your Kayak – Why, How, What Etc…
  2. Microskiff
  3. Seaworthy portable microskiff
  4. The perfect boat tender: Wavewalk S4 in a dinghy role By Captain Larry Jarboe
  5. Full size spray shield for motorized Wavewalk S4
  6. Boat for waterfront property
  7. The world’s fastest motor kayak
  8. 10 good reasons to motorize your kayak
  9. Portable boats
  10. The smallest and greatest skiff
  11. Developments in Motorized Kayaks
  12. Wakes are fun?
  13. How much HP for my S4 skiff’s outboard motor?
  14. Jon Boat Stability vs. Wavewalk® S4
  15. Testing 15″ short (S) shaft outboard motor performance with Wavewalk kayaks and boats By Captain Larry Jarboe
  16. How to measure an outboard motor’s propeller shaft length?
  17. Choosing an outboard motor for your Wavewalk® 700 skiff
  18. Outboard motor propeller shaft length for Wavewalk® fishing kayaks and boats
  19. Kayaks and Boats, Kayak vs. Boat
  20. Keeping the cockpit of your Wavewalk dry at sea
  21. Flats boat or bass boat, or something else?
  22. Steering motorized fishing kayaks and small boats
  23. A better two-person fishing boat
  24. Your boat trailer, the abominable fishing-time guzzler
  25. Motorize your fishing kayak?
  26. Thrust in Electric Trolling Motors for Fishing Kayak

Fishing

  1. Bass fishing in Ontario By Boyd Smith
  2. Fishing offshore – the next frontier
  3. More is less in your fishing kayak’s cockpit – Too much stuff and too little fishability
  4. Smarter electric motors and Lithium-Ion batteries – A winning combination for kayak fishing By Gary Thorberg
  5. Ocean Kayak Fishing
  6. Kayak fishing with disabilities
  7. Storage: How Much Gear Can You Store Inside a Wavewalk 500 Fishing Kayak?
  8. A Brief History Of Kayak Fishing – Past, Present, and Foreseeable Future
  9. About Kayak Fishing In Tandem…
  10. More About Dangers To Kayakers and Kayak Anglers in Warm, Fresh Water
  11. Kayak Fishing As An Extreme Sport
  12. Too Much Storage In A Fishing Kayak…
  13. More Storage Than Any Other Kayak: The W500
  14. Stand Up Kayak Fishing and Paddling – For Real
  15. Fishability – How Fishable Are Kayaks?
  16. Kayak Fishing With Children
  17. Fishing Standing in a Kayak
  18. Kayak Fishing in Shallow Water
  19. Common Kayak Fishing Myths, Tales and Hype
  20. Southern Kayak Fishermen’s Complaints
  21. Kayak Fishing in Cold Water and Weather

Paddling

  1. Paddling in Strong Wind
  2. KAYAK TOURING
  3. Paddling 340 Miles in a W500 Kayak By Clint Harlan
  4. Wavewalk kayak tracking a plus in strong tidal current By Art Myjak
  5. What makes the Wavewalk 500 faster and easier to paddle than other fishing kayaks?
  6. Seal Launching Your Fishing Kayak
  7. Paddling Over Submerged Obstacles in Shallow Water
  8. How to Keep Your W500 Fishing Kayak Cockpit Dry
  9. About Rudders and Fishing Kayaks
  10. Paddling and Kayak Fishing in Cold Water and Weather
  11. Headwind and Side Wind – Paddling in Strong Wind Without a Rudder
  12. Are Sea Kayaks Seaworthy?

Ergonomics

  1. Ergonomics and Biomechanics in Kayaks
  2. What Is kayak Back Pain, And What Does It Mean For You?
  3. Resting in Your Fishing Kayak – Don’t Fall Asleep!
  4. Lumbar Spine and Kayak Back Pain: Facts
  5. Kayak Fishing Safety: Is It safe To Paddle An Uncomfortable Kayak And Fish From It?
  6. Stretching in Your Kayak to Relieve Fatigue and Pain, and Improve Circulation
  7. Kayaking Back Pains and Leg Numbness
  8. Range of Motion and Protection From the Fish – Kayak Comparison By Jeff McGovern
  9. Casting From A Wavewalk Fishing Kayak Compared To Casting From Sit-In and SOT Fishing Kayaks By Jeff McGovern
  10. Whether paddling or fishing in your kayak, try to stay dry
  11. Kayak Fishing From the Mounted (Riding) Position
  12. The Yak Back – What Your Fishing Kayak Shouldn’t Do To You
  13. Common Kayak Injuries

Design

  1. Personal Catamaran
  2. The secrets of the SOT kayak’s underside
  3. About fishing kayak design, innovation, upgrades, accessories, etc.
  4. The Hybrid Fishing Kayak – Facts, Hype and Plain Nonsense
  5. THE BARGE – A NEW CLASS OF FISHING KAYAKS
  6. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly – Aesthetics and Performance in Fishing Kayak Design
  7. Paddle vs. Pedal Drive in Fishing Kayaks
  8. Back Pain, Good Posture and Kayak Fishing
  9. Kayak Side Flotation- How it Works and Why Use it
  10. Kayak Hydrodynamics, Hydrostatics and Biomechanics As Speed Factors
  11. The Evolution of the Kayak
  12. Versatility: From Specialized Kayaks to Broad Range, High Performance Kayaks
  13. Mobility: The New Dimension in Kayak Design

Outfitting

  1. Full size spray shield for motorized Wavewalk S4
  2. Watertight riveting in kayaks and boats
  3. Aluminum rivets in fishing kayaks and boats
  4. Whatever floats your boat – flotation for fishing kayaks
  5. Dog on board
  6. Some Practical Advice About Rigging Your Fishing Kayak
  7. Rigging Your Wavewalk Kayak With a Milk Crate – Is it Necessary?
  8. How to Avoid and Repair Scratches in Your Kayak
  9. Wheels For Fishing Kayak Transportation
  10. Detachable Flotation For Fishing Kayak

Wavewalk Demo Movies

Range of Motion and Protection From the Fish – Kayak Comparison

By Jeff McGovern

Range of motion and protection from the fish – Sounds a little weird but the W kayak offers a far better range of motion for anglers and some measure of protection when landing fish.
I’ve noticed this the most dealing with saltwater speedsters in the form of jacks and ladyfish. Both are considered trash fish but only in terms of eating them. For getting into lots of pulling and yanking they are a blast. But when brought boat side for landing they always have far better ideas than the angler. Leaping and jumping at the last moment can easily put one into your lap or worse. Since they also have a face full of hooks the results of this last moment dash for freedom can be a disaster. If you are stuck in that L position you are too low and too limited in movement options to do much about it. These are also fish that will run in any direction and in a boat you can’t turn your body very well chances are you’ll be tangled up in no time.
In the W kayak, because you are upright in the riding position you can turn much more toward the fish and it’s angle of pull. Also when you go to land the fish you are above most of the danger zone and far better protected. After netting a fish you can simply rest the handle across the cockpit rims and hold in in place. You don’t have a net to worry about getting caught up in the rod, a portion of your body, or other gear. Plus if you are dealing with a fish you might want to keep for a great fish meal if it does jump around it’s going to end up at your feet in one of the hulls safe for the table.
Even in the course of battling a fish if all goes according to plan the L position is a lousy one to fish from. Since you can’t rotate well from the waist or really brace for the battle your shoulders and arms take some real punishment. The L position acts to deny using your core muscles to fight the fish. The W offers so many fish fighting advantages but as with many things about the boat they are not truly realized until the angler actually can try it. If there is a problem with that it’s simply that nothing compares to the W. No other boats have the advantages.
Anyway I just wanted to shoot a note along this line. Sometimes you just have to feel sorry for all those other non W kayak fishermen out there.


W500 Kayak Review by Tim Kerr – Kayaker, New York

Tim Kerr is a kayaker, and member of a kayaking club in Buffalo, New York. He came to West Newton, Massachusetts, tested the W500, and ordered one right away. Here is his review:

Buffalo, New York. June 29, 2009
The Wavewalk W500 has allowed me to return to the water!

Paddling paddling his kayak standing up

After suffering from sciatica that developed after using my single hull kayak earlier this year, I searched for a more comfortable boat. Not only did I find the Wavewalk, I was immediately taken with its unique design that allows people like me with degenerative disk disease (I’m fifty-one) to lay back and rest, sit up straight or even stand and stretch out.

Tim l;aying down to rest on his W500 kayak
Kayaking is not for everyone but the Wavewalk opens the door for so many people that may have tried the sport and then gave it up because it just plain hurts their back. I’ve got a crushed disk that hates it when I stick my legs forward and then try to paddle as in a single hulled boat. The “saddle” combined with the twin hulls in the Wavewalk is a great invention.

Tim kayaking with urban background
I took the boat into the inner harbor in Buffalo. I didn’t try to lift it myself, I’ve got to be careful about such things. I brought along two extra items, a little waterproof pad to sit on, and a camera box on a leash. Attached are some pictures taken on my second day out. I spent the entire morning in the boat without back pain. The next day I was fine–no sciatica.

Tim paddling his W500 in a canal
PS, I drove nine hundred miles in two days to try this boat, to be sure it was right. I’m glad I bought it. I’m “back” in the water again…

Tim Kerr

Getting out of kayak without getting wet

Tim beaching and getting out the W way: From the front, and without getting his feet wet

Added June 27, 2009:

-“Crossed the Niagara River last week. Was I the first in a Wavewalk? Paddling is going well. Going out to Lake Erie to play in some waves for the first time today…. Getting used to carrying it on the car and made a shelf in my garage for winter storage.”

Update from August 2009: Tim’s first movie W kayaking on Lake Erie, Pennsylvania

November 2009: Watch Tim’s Kayak Reentry Movie From Niagara River, NY


Read more fishing kayak reviews that our clients have contributed >

Kayaking Back Pain and Leg Numbness (Part 1)

First, some basic mechanics:
According to Isaac Newton’s Third Law of Action and Reaction, whenever a body exerts a force on another body, the latter exerts a force of equal magnitude and opposite direction on the former.

In other words, when your legs push your feet against your kayak’s foot braces (or footrests) they also push your lower back against your seat – and as a result the seat pushes back against your lower back with an equal force.
Your legs have the most powerful muscles in your body, and they constantly generate this force from the moment you sit in your kayak until you get out of it.
The L kayaking position deprives your legs from their natural role, and together with the seat and footrests turn them into a source of ergonomic problems for your back.
All that unnatural pressure is bad for your legs as well, and this is why you suffer from leg numbness, poor circulation and sometime pain and even chronic injuries.

The traditional kayaking position

More about kayaking back pain »