Ankle suport when kneeling

My difficulty is a bit odd, but perhaps someone out there knows of a solution.

First. My ankles and knees are not like yours. The knees? Perhaps genetics, perhaps work adapted, I can kneel for hours and days without discomfort or pads for the knees. They get a bit stiff after two hours straight of paddling on my knees, but at nearing 70, I should expect anything else?

My ankles are another story. Whether I am a genetic advancement or a Neanderthal throwback (I suspect this.) I have an extra bone behind my ankle, this limits motion, while it is beneficial in allowing a very stable ankle. I cannot point my toes. When I ‘point’ my toes, the foot will make it to about 40 or 45 degrees. It is physically impossible for me to lay the top of my foot on the bottom of the canoe when kneeling. And yet, that is exactly where my butt lands, and my weight. (Both are of numbers high enough to cause me embarrassment.)

The normal stuff sitting and paddling, my seat was installed an inch or two lower than design for that boat, tractor seat, I can paddle 6 to 8 hours, no problem. But when I slide forward onto my knees for rapids, where my skirt is also positioned, 20, 30 minutes, my ankles are screaming at me. Or the empty aluminum rental canoe, I am kneeling between the yoke and the rear thwart, sometimes getting a little butt support from that rear thwart behind me.

I have had limited success with rolling up the spare PFD and tucking it transverse under the ankles. It does help. But anything fixed there would forbid the shift from seat to knees coming into the rapids, or shifting back to the seat in the pool below.

Saddles are out, they limit lateral movement in the rapids.

Looking for suggestions. Outside the ‘box’. Knees don’t need a pad of any sort. (as long as I have cleaned the sand out) But ankles don’t bend, so they need some sort of support, (so my dainty size 15 feet can dangle a bit)

Just a thought. Try a piece of 4”-5” pool noodle cut to about 2’ long.

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and place it under your ankles…

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The solution is ankle blocks. But the optimal height, length and shape seems to vary from paddler to paddler and sometimes what is optimal for one ankle might not be the same as for the paddler’s other ankle.

I prefer making ankle blocks out of minicell foam because it does not take up water, it is easy to shape, and the height can easily be changed by removing some foam from the bottom or gluing another thin piece to the top with contact cement.

Here is the type of ankle block I use. The block is 5 1/4" long, 3" in width, and 2 1/2" tall. Some might prefer a shorter length block, some might benefit from a longer one that supports some of the foreleg. Some might want one with more height, some less. For a boat intended for whitewater use I will glue these in position with contact cement. In others, I will attach them to the hull with velcro to allow them to be removed, or simply have them loose and place them under my ankles and move them around as needed.

Seat or saddle height also has an impact on ankle discomfort. A lower saddle generally requires you to flatten your feet more. You might also benefit from some type of foot blocks to brace your feet against which tends to take some of the strain off the ankle ligaments.

This is an excellent suggestion. Minicell, velcro, etc. I’ll need to make my blocks higher. The rolled up PFD had to have been on the order of 6 inches tall. (My feet don’t bend much.) I wonder it I can incorporate the blocks into a lateral something that can be quickly moved into position and just as quickly moved out of the way.

I became anti saddle a few years ago, and admittedly, my saddle was likely too high and too comfortable, when the boat shifted laterally 40 or so degrees, it threw me to the lee side, Just where I did not want to be.

I’ll have to get some minicell and start carving. See what I come up with.

Thanks. I had not thought of smallish separate blocks

Had an ole buddy, Men’s FS Gold Medalist, that paddled kneeling with his feet at a 90 deg. angle and toes flat on the bottom pointed forward. i.e., his shins were not touching bottom. I tried that, but it hurt my heels. He said just do it until you get used to it and it won’t bother. He was an expert paddler. Might be worth a try.

You’ve made me smile. For your comment, I cannot thank you enough. “until you get used to it.” Ouch !!
I am the age of many of the others here, near 70y.o. , 60 years paddling. This past Friday, I went with a scout troop, one of the shepherds, two hours of kneeling in an empty aluminum Grumman, my ankles and toes were absolutely screaming at me. And then the insult to the injury, it required two attempts to stand up to step out of the canoe. This old guy shit is for the birds. On long runs on the Green and Colorado in the rapids, with deck and skirt on the trip canoe, I sometimes lean forward, place my chest on the thwart and deck and pant and moan. I thumped down onto a rock in Dinosaur a couple of years ago. Skinny between two rocks, tip the boat up a bit on edge to sneak through, and then drop down about 4 feet at the pour over, and land right smack on another rock. Which was onto my toes, and my butt onto my ankles, I could not walk for a week. It took until Sand Wash to be able to walk.
Mostly , I believe, it is just an old guy getting older. What I could ignore once, is now lit matches stuffed under my toenails.

I had someone put custom whitewater outfitting in an Old Town Appalachian and I traced the inside (underside) of my ankle and foot and had him cut out minicell in that shape to support my ankle and foot. I ended up selling the boat before every really giving it a good test, but I see no reason why it won’t work.

I hear you. I’m 76, paddling most of my life, solo canoe 35 years, FS 25 years, FS competitor & instructor. You can imagine how long I’ve been on my knees. I can empathize. Sorry I couldn’t help, but glad you got a laugh out of it. Maybe we can both figure out how to adapt.

the pain you guys are talking about is why I prefer poling these days. Adapt and overcome!

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That is more comfortable if you have some type of foot peg or foot stop to brace your forefoot against.