Tag Archive: spinal fusion

No Back Pain

Biomechanical and Ergonomic Solutions in Kayak Design – Kayaking With No Back Pain

Back problems are the number one source of disability in the United States, and one of the main reasons why many people do not engage in kayaking and kayak fishing, or drop out from these activities after they realize that they cannot enjoy them.

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

Kayak fishing with disabilities

If you looked at ads run by certain fishing kayak manufacturers, you might get the impression that typical kayak anglers are twenty-something athletes with six-pack abs and toilet-bowl white smiles, who can easily fish standing on the hyper-accessorized decks of their SOT kayaks, or pedal those things while operating a rudder in one hand and a fishing pole in the other…
But ads in glossy magazines and carefully crafted YouTube videos are not necessarily good sources of real-world information.

In reality, while some young people fish from kayaks, the typical kayak angler is middle aged or elderly, and often suffers from physical issues and sometimes even  disabilities. The most common problems are excessive weight and height, which limit the angler’s ability to balance and operate their kayak. Equally common are back pain and sensitivity, which limit the angler’s ability to carry the kayak, paddle it, sit comfortably in it, and stay in it for the long periods of time normally required by fishing trips.

Our website features countless accounts and articles related to back pain, leg numbness and other common problems, as well as numerous accounts by clients who suffer from more severe physical impairments and disabilities.
This article will attempt to summarize what we know about the more severe conditions in relation to operating kayaks and fishing from them –

Consulting with your expert physician on these matters is highly recommended, of course. The fact a person suffers from a condition listed here does not automatically mean the W kayak is good for them. There may be cases that would prevent you  from enjoying our W kayak, and even cases where using it might altogether be unrecommended to you, for various reasons. We welcome your questions even if you have a slight doubt. In some cases we could offer you to contact clients who suffer from a condition similar to yours, so you could ask them about their personal experience.

Fibromyalgia syndrome – a rheumatoid disorder characterized by chronic pain in the muscles and soft tissues surrounding joints, fatigue, and tenderness at specific sites in the body. This condition makes it practically impossible to sit in the L position, which all kayaks require, except the W kayak.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) – a chronic degenerative disease of the central nervous system interfering with the nerve pathways and causing mild to severe neural and muscular impairments, loss of coordination, and speech and visual disturbances. This severe condition often leads to balance problems as well, and therefore difficulties in operating kayaks and fishing from them.  We have clients with MS who enjoy riding the saddle of their W kayak while they paddle it and fish from it, and they prefer to use outriggers, for extra safety.

Arthritis – inflammation of a joint or joints caused by gout, rheumatic fever, etc. and characterized by pain and stiffness of the affected parts.  Numerous arthritic people enjoy paddling W kayaks and fish from them. The extra comfort and dryness offered by our kayak design make it easier for them in every way.

Sciatica – a painful condition in the region of the thighs and hips, usually caused by a herniated disk of the lumbar region of the spine (lower back). Many people who suffer from Sciatica paddle and motorize W kayaks for long hours. They enjoy the comfort of the W saddle, the ability to switch between multiple positions anytime they want, the ease of  standing up anytime and for as long as they want, and the ability to stretch their back and limbs lying down on the saddle.  Our fishing kayak has many fans among people who suffer from Sciatica.

Spinal fusion – a surgical procedure that corrects an unstable part of the spine by joining two or more vertebrae. Forget about traditional kayaking if you’ve had spinal fusion surgery, unless you have a W kayak. We have more than one client who use their W kayak for long touring and fishing expeditions, and praise the comfort it provides despite their extreme back sensitivity.

Herniated disk (a.k.a slipped disk) – abnormal, painful protrusion of a disk between spinal vertebrae which occurs most often in the lumbar region (lower back).  No way for you to paddle a regular kayak if you suffer from this painful condition, but the W kayak may be a solution for you, judging by what people who suffer from this condition and enjoy using their W kayaks have to tell.

Knee replacement – a surgical procedure to replace the weight-bearing surfaces of the knee joint with metal and plastic components to relieve the pain and disability of osteoarthritis. People who suffer from serious knee problems find it hard to get into a sit-in kayak, as well as get out of it. Similarly, sit-on-top kayaks are not friendly either for such people, not just because of entry and exit issues, but also because of the need to sit in the infamous L position for a long time. In contrast, we have numerous clients with serious knee problems who praise their W kayaks as being the only ergonomic solution for them.

Hip replacement – a surgical procedure in which the hip joint is replaced by a prosthetic implant. This condition rules out spending time in the L kayaking position, for obvious reasons. The alternative can be to paddle or motorize a W kayak, as some people who have had their hip replaced indeed do.

Balance disorder – a disturbance that causes an individual to feel unsteady, as a result of a dysfunction of one or more of the body systems working together to provide balance: The eyes (visual system), ears (vestibular system), the body’s sense of where it is in space (proprioception), and the brain, which compiles this sensory information. Many people who want to spend time paddling and fishing although they suffer from various balance disorders, find the W kayak to provide an adequate solution. The enhanced physical stability of the W kayak design, combined with the ability the users are offered to balance the craft with their legs while riding a high saddle, make the W kayak the only serious solution for them.

Low back pain (lumbago) is a common musculoskeletal disorder affecting 80% of people at some point in their lives. Over 99% of low back pain instances stem from benign musculoskeletal problems, and are referred to as non-specific low back pain; this type may be due to muscle or soft tissues sprain or strain, particularly in instances where pain arose during physical loading of the back, with the pain lateral to the spine. It would surely not come as a surprise to the reader to learn that a large proportion of our clients came to love their W kayak thanks to the fact that it offers them a back pain free ride like no other kayak can.

Degenerative disc disease (DDD) – Degeneration of the intervertebral discs of the spine is a condition that can be painful and can greatly affect the quality of one’s life. While disc degeneration is a normal part of aging and for most people is not a problem, for certain individuals a degenerated disc can cause severe constant chronic pain. Even people who suffer from DDD can enjoy paddling a W kayak and fishing out of it, as our website’s customer reviews section can tell.

Kayak Review by Kayaker With Spinal Fusion – Laura Palestrini, Georgia

Spinal fusion is an extreme surgical intervention performed on patients who suffer from certain chronic, serious back conditions, including severe pain, which have not responded to conservative treatment.
Laura is one of those patients, and her short testimonial sends a clear message of hope to people like her:

I had spinal fusion six years ago. I have always wanted to Kayak but I know there is no way that I can sit in the L position on a regular kayak.
I contacted Norm Craig, a W kayaker who had spinal fusion too, and he assured me I would be fine with the W500.

I love my W kayak. I have taken it out about 7 times, and my longest trip was about 2 hours. It is very easy on my back. I just bought a new life preserver today made for kayaking. I am planning on going out tomorrow morning.

I am also going to make a cushion for the seat. I am also trying to figure out how to configure a cup holder. Has anyone come up with a cool design?

Thanks again.

Laura


Read more fishing kayak reviews that our clients have contributed >

‘Second Impression’ W500 Fishing Kayak Review, by Norm

Norm Craig, a from Rhode Island, had serious back surgery only months ago, and realized he couldn’t go fishing in a canoe or a regular kayak. He became the first fisherman to use our new W500 for kayak fishing. He wrote this fishing kayak ‘mini review’ immediately after taking it on water for the first time, and today he sent us his second impression:

-“Beautiful morning with the big W:

Friday,  I went fishing this morning. The fish weren’t biting but the weather was beautiful and I spent over 4 hours in the kayak. I can’t believe I lasted that long. I was a little sore but not bad. Until today I thought that standing and paddling was a neat trick but now it is my preferred way of paddling.  I’m getting very confident, and it feels great on the back.
I’m Working on a few new gadgets for the kayak. Had some great ideas today.
Saturday; Went fishing and the fish were biting. I had one of the best fishing days days I ever had. Lost track of the bass and pickerel I caught. Being able to stand and look into the water you can see the fish strike the lure sure is a thrill. I spent about 3 hours on the water and again the back was not a problem considering I had a spinal fusion 5 months ago.
Yak works fine, no problems. I noticed a little noise from the wake when I paddle fast. —  Norm”

First Instant Review From W500 Kayak Fisherman

Added October 3: Norm’s Summer Adventures With Grandson Luke

Added May 17: Norm’s ‘Second Impression Review’...

Norm Craig, a fisherman from Rhode Island, could no longer go in canoes because of his back problems. He got his W500 this morning, and became the first client to report his initial experience with it:

“Picked up the new 500 today, spent about 1hr and was standing up and doing some easy paddling after about 45 minutes of getting used to it. Little shaky for about 10 min. Really a different animal but fun and easy. I’m 60 yrs old and just had major lower back surgery and still recovering so I got to go easy.

Had a canoe but after back surgery this looks like the way to go. Never been in a kayak so I don’t have anything to compare it to. So far I love it and will be doing some fishing soon.

Here’s a pic of me about 45 min into my first go around… More coming!

Thanks for talking me into the good paddle – I love it!  Norm”

Norm standing up in his W500 fishing kayak


Read more fishing kayak reviews that our clients have contributed >