Tag Archive: spine

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 >

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.



John Hunter’s Review of His W500 Fishing Kayak – Seattle, Washington

I have back pain and  and have to say my w-500 is the most comfortable boat I’ve ever paddled. I had an unfortunate encounter with a bad chiropractor and have issues with L5 and sciatica now, and had tried SOT kayaks with bad results… but I could see the w kayak is entirely a different story after only one outing!

fishing kayak, Seattle, Washington

After I’ve had my w500 out for only 4 times and I could see that once you get your technique down it’s FAST, easily as fast as a 13′ kayak (if you’re in the aggressive mounted position)… and the leaning into a turn works really well, especially if you’re seated near the stern. I have gotten used to a milder cruising stroke in the seated position that allows me to paddle for literally hours with no problems or back pain (holding the paddle closer towards the center and letting the paddle and gravity do some of the work).

Last night I took it out into some choppier, high traffic areas and got a lot of inquiries from some sea-kayakers who were very impressed with a boat you can stand up in.

fishing kayak, Seattle, Washington

I am loving my w-500… After I’d been out about 6 times, took it out with a 230lb friend… I am an intermediate paddler and my friend had minor experience. After several failed attempts to paddle together I had him try it solo. He had a good sense of humor, and I’m not deterred!  🙂 Good times indeed!

fishing kayak, Seattle, Washington

I am very comfortable paddling it by myself now and spend 1/3 of the time paddling it standing, and get tons of inquiries. I’m getting questions from Salmon fishers and sailboats (mostly because I row near a fishing/sailing boat moorage now).

I did not try my W500 first before I ordered it, I simply did TONS of research and asked many people I know who are experienced. I am one of the very satisfied customers who’s incredibly happy with his decision, it was not hasty.
I was asked last night by some kayaker where he could try a w-kayak… i said “right here, right now… pull up to that dock and I’ll let you give her a spin”

fishing kayak, Seattle, Washington

The last 3 times I’ve been out on my w-500 was to lurk outside the fish ladder and watch the salmon return to spawn, kind of fun watching 24″ fish jumping all around you, oh but I have a better view than everyone else! 😀

I have still yet to try my w-500 for fishing, but will soon once I find a few good nearby spots, and will be sure to take more pics.

Thanks again and happy paddling!

-=John


Read more fishing kayak reviews that our clients have contributed >

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