ankle pain

Hi All:

I paddle a royalex Bell Wildfire (now the Yellowstone Solo). At the recommendations of another forum regular, I drilled out the rivets of the seat hangers and reversed them so that I could remount the seat higher. I did so because I found it hard and a bit precarious getting my size 10.5 feet under the seat for kneeling. I do not feel comfortable sitting in this boat. Despite raising the seat, I find that my ankles become painfully numb after an hour or two of paddling. On the bony rivers in my neighborhood, getting out of the canoe to cross shoals is common. This is a painful experience as my ankles are essentially “asleep” and stiff. I have to do something. As is, the Wildfire cannot work for me. One thought I have is to lower the seat, install foot pedals and change it into an Adirondack type pack canoe using a double bladed canoe paddle. Another is to sell it for a different canoe/kayak (my primary activity is fishing.) What course of action do you recommend? Thank you all. I do appreciate your collective experience.


Bristol, TN

pool noodles
try cutting a pool noodle down to about 24 inches and placing below the top of you ankle (facing the bottom of boat) while kneeling.

I find that this really reduces the stiffness in the ankle.


– Last Updated: Aug-18-05 11:49 PM EST –

You don't say, but I'm taking it for granted that when you repositioned the seat, you left it flat/level. If you did that; try positioning the seat so that the front is lower than the back by about an inch. When you kneel, the seat will give you some butt support, but you will not be a postition where you are trying to kneel with your butt sitting flat on the seat, or on the hard front edge of the front of the seat. I never found that to be comfortable; therefore all my solo canoes have the front of the seat at a lower level.

Additionally, I suggest you invest in a nice kneeling pad. The large pad that Bell sells is a good one based on my experience with it. It provides padding for your knees & ankles. I believe that will also help you.

I paddle a Wildfire(love it)too, so I know what you're talking about. You're lucky to not be dealing with my size 13's, an ankle with a steel plate in it, and knees nearly worn out by kneeling in a whitewater canoe. Endeavour to perservere...........

If all I stated is as clear as mud, email me & I'll try to send you a few photos.


P.S. If all else fails; I have a buddy who is looking for a used Wildfire.

So, you’re not a Pain Boater.
I liked the part about not being able to paddle longer than one or two hours. I have pretty good ankles, above my size 14.5 feet, but when I paddle, I have to get out every half hour, and by then I am a little numb.

You might have more difficulty if you are just paddling steadily in one position. Usually I am on whitewater, and this involves a lot of weight shifting, which tends to relieve ischemia.

Ya mean you are supposed to be able
to just get out of your boat and walk!?

If your seat is lower than 9 or so inches from the floor try raising it up then try toe blocks or pool noodles or something like to let your toes point down rather than straight back. Some people like them under their ankles. I like mine glued to the floor so that I can brace my toes against them.

Crawling from the wreckage,


I fear a new canoe won’t be of much help. With most seats you’re compressing the upper thighs with a bar. With most sitting styles you’re pushing your leg against the gunwales or crossing your feet on a hard surface or binding them up under your seat or…I think when we canoe we all have this image of the noble Native American sitting immobile for ten hours straight and just making the miles. Yoga was huge last year and there are tons of books on the clearance racks now, pick one up. No, I’m not a new age groovster, but you’ll get ideas on how to stretch while paddling. Helps your shoulders, legs, back and arms. Every thirty to forty-five minutes I do a few stretches while paddling, really helps. A canoe is a lot of hard surfaces compressing lots of nerves. Move around a little and you’ll find you’re okay. That said, I did a faux Canadian style lean for six hours last Friday and there was this pressure spot below my left knee that hurt (in a not TOO bad way) for three days aftwards. I noticed the other respondents are some of the most experienced on the board and found it interesting they all acknowledge this pain as part of the game. They’re all right. By all means fit the canoe to you as best you can, but you have to deal with pain and one of the best ways I’ve found is to get out every so often (not always an option) or stretch.

Enjoy paddling! Find your style and have fun. There are a myriad of ways to make it work for you.



sore ankles
Good advice to try pool noodles. You can also try paddling with one leg in normal sitting position to strech and rest one knee/ankle at a time, then the other. The boat stays quite stable when you’re still kneeling on one knee. If that’s not good enough then you might try lowering the seat if that’s easy to try, even without foot braces, and see if the boat’s stability is acceptable. The Wildfire is kind of lively so it likes the load to be low (it prefers a kneeling paddler). If all that doesn’t work then maybe you should buy a canoe that’s made for sitting, not kneeling…like a Wenonah Prism or something similar.

Yellowstone’s kind of short for a fishing canoe anyway isn’t it? Hard to store fishing poles? I used to fish and used to have a Wildfire and I remember it as being not the best fishing canoe.

Hi Guys: Thanks for the input. I do have the front edge of the seat lower than the rear. Based on advice, I placed the newly cut off ends of the seat back under the seat bars in back to retain the canted forward angle. I am using the Bell T-pad under the knees. I haven’t tried the pool noodle idea. I suspect that would help by maintaining more of a 90 angle for my ankles. If you have to get in and out frequently, doe repositioning the noodles become an irritant? The other “take-home message” I see in the responses is that some discomfort is a given and frequent rests to stand and move is required.

Another suggestion
Try this,

While technically not “kneeling” it works for me in most situations. I can not easily move from sitting to kneeling in my boat. I have found if I start of sitting then cross my legs under the seat and slip forward I end up with my butt on the seat, each knee down with my ankles crossed under the seat. More of my weight is on my but, but I have a good solid 3 point contact with the boat.

You can also just put one knee down, one leg out straight infront. A foot brace helps for this one.