Tag Archive: spine injury

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

Not too shabby bass with my back injuries, by Rox Davis

Just started therapy for my back yesterday, opted out on the surgery for now.
I want to try all my options first before the Knife!!

I was able to still get out, Lisa pulled the W kayaks down to the waters edge at a pond near us.
I left my W500 at home since it’s a little heavier with the motor mount and deck.
A little paddling goes a long way with the W300.

Just tossing a 3” yum dinger in baby bass color Texas rigged weedless.
Not to shabby with my back and neck injuries. Plus a bonus 4lber to boot!!

If I was in a traditional yak, I would have never made it off shore – too hard to get in and out without a splash down. 🙂

Tight Lines and MoPaddle safe all.
Rox

4lbs-bass-in-CT-pond

This eight year old W300 kayak still does the job

 

bass-caught-july-7-CT

 

bass-caught-july-7-CT (2)

Tandem kayak bassin with wifey, by Clint Miller

5 1/2 pounder, capital region New York –

My wife’s name is Nioca, and she didn’t only hold the fish for a pic she fought it with 6 lb test while in the front of the wavewalk! It was quite the experience, to say the least but never was stability an issue lol The w500 got me back on the water after my herniated L5-S1 disk …My dad bought one after trying mine out ONE time ! Lol he has very bad knees and it allows him to stand and loosen up when needed. He was actually the one who got us into kayaking originally but I had to stop after injury until I stumbled across wavewalk.com and the rest is history…there are more good pics I will get over to ya ..thx again

Clint

5.5-lbs-largemouth-bass-caught-in-tandem-fishing-kayak-upstate-ny

 

Clint-Miller-kayak-bass-fisherman-NY  More kayak fishing with Clint Miller >


More fishing kayak reviews »

Fully Rigged Fishing kayak and Full Kayak Review, by Gary Johnson, Texas

I am 61, 280lbs, retired, 100% disabled, veteran Navy Officer. I have a very bad back resulting from damage done while I was on active duty. My back has 4 bad disks in the lower end, three bad disks in the neck, and pinched nerves going to my legs. Added to this I suffer from Fibromyalgia. My meds for the most part keep the pain at a semi-manageable level, but the hurt never goes completely away. If I can help some other Vet or civilian with frequent orthopedic pain be able to enjoy kayaking it’s good enough for me.

Rigged fishing kayak, Texas

WaveWalkOne all decked out with the crate attached, the light/flag pole flying, rod holders (2) in place, the paddle holder based on Jeff's Wal-Mart hooks in place and if you will notice sitting on the seat there are three 2 gal containers and three 1 gallon watertight containers that I use for storage up in the hull tips. You will see in another picture a closeup of how I extract the 1 gallon containers which get pushed way up in the tip.

I think it is important to clarify why I am passionate about the WaveWalk W500 Kayak.
I used to be an accredited Canoe instructor, and have taught lots of Boy Scouts how to make a canoe go straight. For me a regular kayak makes “Pain Management” impossible. I have tried conventional kayaks and NONE OF THEM give me the freedom to stretch and move that I require in order to keep my back from cramping up and making fishing pure hell. The W500 was my last hope for a personal watercraft. If it weren’t for the W500, I couldn’t be a kayak owner – my back will not allow me to sit in a regular kayak for more than about 20 minutes.
The W500 allows me to move into positions that relieve the pain from where it is hurting the most and have it hurt somewhere else for a while. I found the ONLY KAYAK AVAILABLE that allows me complete freedom of movement – something none of SITS or SOTS can claim. I will match my W500 up against anything the SITS or SOTS have shown me, especially since I can use the W500 and I CAN’T use the others. It does bother some other yakkers though that I always have easy answers for the problems they are trying to solve…
I think that eventually I will manage to give HOPE to disabled people that Kayaking is not something beyond their capabilities.

Fishing kayak live bait tanks, Texas

My 2 gallon and 1 gallon ciontainers that fit up in the hull tips attached together. To maintain their watertightness I put silicone seal aroung the holes where the rope goes through their sides. To store, the big container pushes the little one up into the tip and to extract it the big one pulls the small one out. In one of the hull tips I don't attach them together as the big container is filled with water and has an aerator for keeping shrimp alive as bait. When I get to where I am going to be fishing I pour the shrimp into a mesh bait bag that hangs over the side. I keep my cell phone, wallet, and anything else that can't possibly get wet in the small one that has no holes drilled in it to ensure it always stays dry.

Before I found the W500, kayaking was beyond my capability. You couldn’t have gotten me in a kayak for a days fishing on a bet. I would have passed on an all-expenses paid fishing trip with a guide who was fishing out of kayaks. I COULD NOT HAVE STOOD THE PAIN. Hurting just isn’t worth it.
In late January through early April the white bass will be running in the rivers near me. Kayakers have a field day getting into water that others can’t get to. I plan on showing the W500 off to many of those guys and will offer free rides. They will be bundled up in their waders and still be getting wet. I plan to entice them with a DRY RIDE.
I promote your product on the net for FUN. Its something I believe in and would like others who have the same problems as I do to have the freedom to participate in kayaking without hurting themselves more.

Fishing kayak rigged with fish finder, Texas

I drilled a 3 inch hole in the third setion of the seat and installed a 2 1/2 tank fitting (the black round fitting) that goes through the poly board that hold the holder for my GPS. My depth finder/Fish Finder is dropped down through this hole and extends into the water beneath the hulls. Since the fish finder has side looking sonar on it too it has to go that deep. When underway I have a piece of 3 inch pvc that goes on top of the fitting and holds the sonar transducer just under the water when I am paddling, thus reducing the drag. The 2 1/2 inch fitting screw tight from underneath and reinforces the seat where I drilled the hole. A second, but no less valuable use for this hole is to run a chain through to lock the kayak into my truck when I am not with it. It keeps the kayak from wandering off if you get my drift.

fishing kayak rigged with fish finder, Texas

GPS mount swung off to the side so I can move up to bow in boat. To exit the boat I would leave it straight and remove the depth finder and set it behind me and just walk off as usual.

The biggest problem I have faced with my W500 is the comments from non-believers. Some of the things they say can be painful if you don’t have a thick hide. They make their comments UNTIL they get on the water with me. I then do things like reversing direction in the kayak and watch their faces. I also make a big deal about stretching and twisting, standing up to show that I am completely free to move as I desire.

stake out pole for kaayk fishing, Texas

My stake out stick. It consists of a 4-8 ft long roller paainting extension pole from Home Depot with a 1 inch pvc T shaped handle on it on the top end and a roller handle (red part) that has had the part you attach the roller to cut off and then the shaft straightened and sharpened on the end. Works great and I attach it to the large carabiner on my anchor trolley.

I needed a stable kayak, that kept me dry (I mean 100% dry except for sweat) and after almost a year’s search finally decided that a WaveWalk W500 was the ticket. You are welcome to come to my home and try mine out on our neighborhood private lake. I offer this, because I had to buy mine sight unseen, untried, acting only on faith of others testimonials and several phone calls to a preacher in Corpus who owns one. The W500 is stable enough to not only stand in, but to paddle standing up. If you get wet in one its your own fault or because you decided to go wading. It has so much storage space that is so accessible that a crate isn’t needed. Unlike conventional kayaks I have a seat that is 6 feet long that I can sit anywhere on. I can stand, bend, twist, do anything I desire and stay in the kayak. Without doubt I feel I made the right choice, and I am however, a completely satisfied customer.

Fishing kayak outfitted with safety light, TX

My flag/360 degree light pole. It's made from 1 1/4 inch pvc in three sections of 18 inches each. The Tektite white 2 led light drops in the top. When storing the pole for transit the pole sections are held in a piece of 4 inch pvc in the crate. I mount the flag/light pole in a 90 degree flush mount rod holder mounted as far back on the Hull tip a possible right next to the flotation foam. To make the 1 1/4 pipe fit into the pole holder I use a decreaser to 1 inch PVC.

I read the Texas kayak fishing boards (texaskayakfishing.com and the kayak section of www.Texasfishingforum.com) and just laugh. “Regular” kayak owners complain about lack of stability, lack of storage space, wet butts and wet feet, etc. An owner of a W500 has NONE of these problems. Take launching for instance – in a regular kayak you wade out half the length of the kayak and then get in – WET already. In a W500 I walk down between the hulls for 2 1/2 feet and step into the cockpit pushing off with the last foot on dry land and have launched completely dry. Landing I do essentially the same. To land I merely slide back in the seat, thus raising the “bow” and paddle or push quite far up onto the beach. I then slide up to the front pinning the hull tips to the beach and walk out between the hull tips – DRY.

Fishing kayak rigged with attachment for stake out pole, Texas

Simple method of just using a carabiner to attach the anchor trolley to the handle and a picture of my rod holders. The BIG red caribiner goes over the stack out stick for anchoring.

Don’t believe the hype you will hear from folks who have other kayaks, and criticize the W500, because they have no idea what they are talking about (99.9% of whom have never even seen a W500 much less paddled one) that the W500 won’t turn, is hard to paddle, won’t track. Phooey on them. I can turn a W500 literally in place using 2 methods they don’t have in their arsenal. IF I need to change direction immediately I just turn around in the kayak (don’t try this in a regular kayak) and paddle the opposite direction OR I slide to the back of the seat lifting the front tips and do a couple of back paddles on the same side of the W500 and pivot in place. Regular turning is no problem either. Anchoring is another problem solved in a W500. A regular kayak MUST have an anchor trolley to be able to keep the anchor in the proper position to keep the kayak from going broadside to waves. The anchor trolley moves the anchor from place to place. In a W500, I can move from the back to the front of the kayak and I can move the anchor with me. I do have an anchor trolley on my W500, but its for MY CONVENIENCE mostly with Drift Socks so I can move the socks in small increments to keep me in position on a drift Quickly so as not to interfere with my fishing.

paddle holders attached to fishing kayak, TexasThe WaveWalk kayak will keep you completely dry (no scuppers for water to enter to soak your butt) both on using the kayak and upon getting in and out of the kayak. The W500 has more storage than I can effectively use (14 cubic feet). I use a crate, not because I have to, but because it allows me to have a convenient place to fly my 360 light and flag from, and a place to keep my anchor and drift sock where it is instantly available should I need it. I use an anchor trolley because it makes the adjustment of where an anchor is located, not because I have to. Unlike those who use a conventional kayak and are largely confined to one place, I have a 6 foot long cockpit seat that allows me free access to the kayak tips on both the bow and stern which are interchangeable since the kayak can be paddled equally well either direction as they are exactly the same. You talk about turning – I can turn on a dime by sliding back to the rear of the seat and giving a couple of back paddles and the W500 will swivel in place. I can reverse direction simply by turning around in the cockpit and paddling the other direction. I don’t need to add flotation as that comes standard in the kayak tips and no it does not use up some of my storage space. Can anyone who has a regular kayak even approximate these features?? The features are as they are, and I will be posting about the merits of the W500 because I believe for the big guy and more importantly for the person who has disabilities that the W500 is the best kayak going.
It is so much easier to throw a cast net when you don’t have to do it from the sitting L position, and it’s so much easier it is to get things from your crate and from the 14 cubic feet of storage in the hull tips, if you can turn completely around like in the cockpit of a W500.

cleat attached to fishing kayak, Texas

My favorite small boat cleat. Its called either a zig zag cleat or a W cleat. I'll go with the W. Very quick and easy to attach lines to and more than one line can be attached to the same cleat.

I did a lot of research before I finally settled on the WaveWalk W500, and I am glad that I can continually point out the things that are HARD OR IMPOSSIBLE from a regular Kayak that are so easy from a WaveWalk. It is most important to me for DISABLED KAYAKERS to know about the only kayak that I can own and actually use. As I have said before, my legs and back will not let me sit in a regular kayak for more than about 30 minutes before I have to get out. The having to get out is true for both paddling or sitting one place fishing.
The other fun and easy stuff like having max storage space, having max stability, ability to throw cast nets, are just gravy, because if you can’t get comfortable in the kayak, then you won’t use it and the subject is moot. IF I had a fishing kayak with the pedal drive I could not use it, and would not use it, because my disabilities keep me from using it. That said, after having a WaveWalk W500, I would still not use a pedal drive kayak even if I could. There are just too many other advantages to the WaveWalk that I would want to take advantage of. Why would I use a kayak with reduced capability and comfort???”
Give me a call or better yet come and paddle my W500,

Gary Johnson

Fishing kayak rigged with a crate, Texas

Looking down into crate. The 4 inch PVC holds the anchor and anchor rope and chain, also a piece for the broken down flag/light pole, and one for a couple of drift socks which are not here yet. One of my 1 gallon size watertight storage containers fits here too.