Tag Archive: lumbar support

No Back Pain

Biomechanical 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.

CONTENT

  1. Defining the problem
  2. What causes the problem
  3. Search in the right direction
  4. Engineering the optimal solution
  5. The riding posture
  6. The benefits of super stability
  7. Casting and fighting fish
  8. The cockpit 

 

 

 

1. Defining The Problem

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 biting…

The 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 and discomfort in your shoulders and neck.
In fact, kayaking is so closely associated with back pain that kayakers commonly appear in TV ads for back painkillers and pain relief patches.

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.
In 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 this Problem?

Being Seated In The Traditional, L Kayaking Position

The problem is caused by a combination of two things:

1.   Being seated in a non ergonomic position to start with, and
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 kayaking 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 L position is the worst for you it’s simply the only one that ordinary kayaks can offer.

Double Trouble: The Combined Effect of Horizontal and Vertical Pressure on Your Lower Back:

L kayaking positionFigure 1.  Horizontal Pressure

Figure 1 on the left shows the horizontal pressure that 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.
The back support and foot braces may hold you in your torso in place and prevent you from falling backwards or slipping downward, but they also limit your freedom of movement, increase pressure on your lower back, cause leg numbness and cramps and result in increased fatigue.

Native people of 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 infancy to 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.

L Kayaking Position 2

Figure 2.  Vertical Pressure (Weight)

Figure 2 on the left shows the heavy vertical
pressure (weight) applied on the lower part of your spine when you’re seated in the traditional L kayaking position.

The 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 weight.
Your legs are prevented from supporting your body weight in this position.

In 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 injured.
Kayaking 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 spend hours 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?
Do you fish or do you know anybody who fishes seated in this position from shore or from any other type of fishing boat?
-The 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, which 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 promise themselves to fly first class next time – if only for the extra legroom.

Not all damages are felt immediately.
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 shoulder problems.

Read more about kayaking back pain and leg numbness »

3. Search in the Right Direction

What do cross-country motorbikes, mountain bikes, horses, snowmobiles, all-terrain vehicles (ATV) and personal watercraft (PWC) have in common? It’s the fact that their user operates them in the Riding Position.
And what do skiing, surfing, water skiing, dog sledding, snowboarding, windsurfing, skating and skateboarding have in common? -The Standing Position.
This is 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.
When 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 (biomechanical advantage), and we also feel more comfortable and less tired this way (ergonomic advantage).

4. Engineering the Optimal Solution

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 biomechanical issues in paddling and paddle fishing.
The new, 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 the user’s balancing, control, steering, propulsion and fishing efforts.
The central part of the W Kayak, its ‘backbone’, which joins the two hulls, is shaped like a long, 14″ high saddle.
W kayakers can move back and forth along the saddle, according to their need (e.g. tandem, surfing, paddling in strong wind, launching, etc.). They can also switch anytime between numerous ergonomic positions, as shown below:

 

5. Riding (Mounted)

The Natural Position

Riding is the most stable, comfortable and powerful paddling position, and it offers best control over your boat and the most leverage on
your paddle.
In the Riding position your thighs, legs and feet are positioned directly below your body and take active part in all your efforts: Balancing, Control and Paddling.
Riding is the best position for beginning W Kayakers. It is also the best position in whitewater and surfing applications.

W Kayaking -Riding Position

Note that your legs support your upper body from both sides, and your feet are in a direct vertical line below your body.

 

 

 

 

 

paddling a fishing kayak - top view For Fishing: 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 Kayak is similar to mounting a pony:
Your 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 a stirrup.
This position is similar to the riding position used in other high performance vehicles such All Terrain Vehicles (ATV), Snowmobiles, and Jet Skis.

Watch this slow-motion demo video of the Riding position:

 

 

Sitting

Leisure Positions

Sitting means having your legs positioned in front of your body.

Sitting positions are less stable and powerful than Riding, and not recommended for beginning W Kayakers, or for paddling in moving water. The sitting positions are good for relaxing on flat water.

Adding 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.

W Kayaking -Sitting Position - regular

Variations:

1. Regular sitting, which is similar to sitting in a canoe
2. Sitting with both legs stretched forward
3. Mixed: one leg in the regular position and the other stretched forward

Standing

 

The Stand Up Kayak – For Real

Unfortunately, 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 normal paddlers and anglers, who are neither lightweight nor extremely athletic, only W kayaks offer the possibility to paddle 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 balance.

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.

6. Super Stability

Nothing Compares

Stability is key to comfort and good ergonomics. The patented W Kayak offers unmatched stability trough a unique combination of three factors:

  1. The boat’s buoyancy is sensibly distributed along its sides, instead of being wasted along its central, longitudinal axis.
  2. The passengers make natural use of their legs and feet to balance themselves by shifting their weight sideways, from one leg to another, and  they apply this weight directly to the bottom of the hulls – below waterline, thus creating an effect of ‘dynamic ballast’.
  • The immersed profiles of the boat’s twin hulls act as multiple ‘Hard Chines’, thus offering maximal lateral resistance, and unmatched initial (primary) stability.

The effect of hard chines on kayak stabilityW Fishing Kayak – Front View

The W500 hulls at a 200 lb load.
Learn More About Kayak Stability »

Watch our demo movies »

 

 

 

7. Casting and Fighting Fish

The 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 kayak nearby and therefore 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 »

 

 

8. The Cockpit – A Place To Be In, And Work In

Your kayak’s cockpit has other functions besides protecting you and offering you optimal comfort.  It is also a workplace in which you store your gear and handle it. In W kayaks all the gear you need is within arm’s reach, and there’s no chance of it 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 find and reach it.

Can I outfit the W kayak cockpit with a seat on top of its 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.

Lawn chair added to the cockpit of a fly fishing kayakRead more about what it’s like to fish from a lawn chair in your W kayak’s cockpit »

 

 

 

 

 

More reading

 

Children kayak fishing User Manual: Launching, paddling, fishing, recovery

What Is Kayak Back Pain, and What Does It Mean For You?

Definition of Pain

Pain is an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage, or described in terms of such damage.

Pain plays a critical role in our survival and well being, because it motivates us to withdraw from potentially damaging situations, avoid those situations in the future, and protect a damaged body part while it heals.

Pain is usually initiated by stimulation of the peripheral nervous system, that is the nerves in various parts of our body. These nerves are connected through the spinal nerve to our brain, where we become aware of the pain.

The Nerves Involved In Kayak Back Pain, Leg Pain, Etc.

The sciatic nerve is a large nerve fiber that begins in the lower back and runs through the buttock and down the lower limb. It is the longest and widest single nerve in the human body. The sciatic nerve supplies nearly the whole of the skin of the leg, the muscles of the back of the thigh, and those of the leg and foot. It is derived from spinal nerves L4 (in Lumbar vertebra # 4) through S3 (in Sacral vertebra #3) in the lower part of our spine.

Meaning of Back Pain When You’re Kayaking, or Kayak Fishing

Any unpleasant sensation you feel in your body while kayaking or fishing from your kayak, is a sign that something is wrong, so you need to pay attention to it, and do something about it:

Your legs getting numb is a sign that means you should change positions, stretch, get up, and get things in order.

Pain in your legs, or your lower back means something is seriously wrong, and you’re either risking physical damage, or actually causing it just by being seated in the L position, whether you’re paddling, resting, or fishing.

Pain means you need to stop paddling and fishing, and try to ‘unkink’, stretch, stand up, walk, do some physical exercise, etc.,

You shouldn’t ignore pain, because the longer you feel it, the less likely it is that it’s just a warning of a possible damage, and the more likely it is to be either a sign of actual physical damage in the making, or worse – damage that’s already done.

What To Do, And What Not To Do

Paddling and fishing in the L sitting position while you’re feeling back pain is bad for you. By doing it, you’re actively prolonging your healing period, and you may even be increasing the damage in your back. This is especially true if you’re suffering from chronic, frequent, or acute back pain.

When you consult with other kayakers and kayak anglers, or with kayak outfitters, kayak fishing guides or kayak dealers about the pain you feel in your back, some of them might dismiss pain as being unimportant, and complaining about it as ‘unmanly’. Others could even brag about their ability to keep paddling or fishing despite the pain they feel. In our view, anyone telling you to ignore your back pain is being irresponsibly wrong, and you should not listen to them. You’d better listen to what your back is telling you, don’t ignore it, and take it seriously, and you’d better consult your physician.

If you’re advised to take pain killers while you’re kayaking, or kayak fishing, you’re being given a bad advice, since that would double your risk: You could be aggravating the damage already caused to your back, and possibly turning it into severe damage, and on top of this you’ll be increasing likelihood of becoming the victim of a kayaking or fishing accident resulting from numbed senses and slower reactions.  Needless to say that the same is true for drinking alcohol, and for the same reasons, and in some states drinking alcohol while being on board a small boat is illegal, and could get you in a lot of trouble.

Conclusion: You’d better not operate kayaks while suffering from a sore back.

Seeking advice from a physician specializing in back problems, and even from your primary care physician is likely to help you better understand you back problem, avoid aggravating it, and eventually solve it.

What Does The W Kayak Offer To Your Back?

1. Different basic sitting positions:

When you’re operating a W kayak in the unique Riding position, your legs support your upper body’s weight, similarly to when you ride a horse, or an ATV. This means there’s simply no backrest for your legs to compress your lower back against. The W kayak is unique, and all other kayaks (I.E. sit-in and SOT) feature a system including footrests in front of the paddler, and a backrest behind them. Such kayaks require that you sit in the infamous L position, with your legs stretched in front of you – constantly pushing your lower back against the seat’s backrest, and thus creating a condition that often leads to pain and injuries among kayakers, and kayak anglers.

2. Various ergonomic positions to switch to, anytime:

When you operate a W kayak, you can switch between Riding, Sitting in several postures (none of which is the infamous L position), Standing up, and Lying down on the saddle, in several postures. This means you can effectively ‘unkink’ , rest, stretch – both standing up and lying down, and relief local fatigue and stress in any part of your body, while still being in the boat, and operating it. None of the positions offered by the W kayak is potentially harmful.


Lumbar Support or Lumbar Abuse?…

Here’s another ‘myth busting bomb’ on the Painless Kayak Fishing blog: It’s called “Kayaks, Back Problems, Lumbar Support – and the Simple Truth”

Basically, it details how sit-in and SOT kayak seats don’t offer lumbar support but rather inflict lumbar abuse on kayak paddlers and kayak fishermen alike.

Personally, the more I think of it the I’m outraged by what’s going on in the kayak market, and professionally, I’m dumbfounded by the fact that you hardly hear anybody talking about these big and painful issues that affect so many people.

It may be a ‘dirty little secret’ for those kayak professionals who are aware of it, but it’s a major problem for all those regular people who don’t.

Yoav


Lumbar Spine and Kayak Back Pain: Facts (New Article)

This new article examines the roots of lumbar back pain that so many people suffer from when paddling their sit-in and SOT kayaks and fishing from them. It’s called Lumbar Spine and Kayak Back Pain: Facts. It’s a must read because you won’t find this kind of discussion anywhere else, and if you like kayak fishing or just kayaking you obviously have concerns about your back.


Seat for a W Fishing Kayak

It’s very easy to attach a regular kayak seat, or canoe seat, or stadium seat to the W kayak saddle: You can create attachment points by drilling holes in the cockpit rim and top side of the saddle.
Some people have done it, as one can see in on website’s kayak reviews section.

Having said that, most W kayak owners don’t use a seat or a back rest, and even those who’ve added one to their W kayak end up not using it most of the time, because you basically don’t need a back rest in this kayak. This is due to the fact that in the preferred paddling and fishing position (Riding) your own legs support you.
This is true for standing too, of course.