back injury and kayaking

almost a year ago, i had lower back surgery for a ruptured disc. prior to that i was a runner, and did some canoeing. I am interested in getting into kayaking. I am trying to determine what type of kayak to purchase, mainly which one would provide the best lower back support. anyone have any suggustions or maybe experience with lower back injuries and kayaking?

I feel your pain
Just this morning I severely injured my back and now have two bulging disks. Way too early to have a prognosis. I can barely walk and not without assistance at that. It is encouraging that you had such a serious injury and are contemplating taking up paddling.

I will be reading the responses to your original post with much interest. I hope that your back continues to improve.


Best kayak for back injury.
I have had back problems since 1982 and would not be able to do much of anything if I did not have a good chiropractor. The boat that has the most comfortable seat for me (5’8" 170 lbs.) is the Tempest 170 Pro by Wilderness Systems and so far I have not had a problem.

When you canoed, did you use the
kneeling position much? I find that the kneeling position places the back in a very natural position, not flexed over as it will be in a kayak. If you find the one-sided twisting motion of canoeing to be stressful, you can balance it out by using a light, approx. 240 cm kayak paddle.

If you get into kayaking, you will have to get your hamstrings very well stretched out so that they aren’t pulling across your hip joints as you sit.

I have known at least a couple of very serious WW c-1 competitors who got back problems, had fusions, and subsequently were able to resume competition, though at a relatively more casual level.

Naturally I would suggest that you get a very light canoe or kayak. This will cost more, but the ease of carrying and loading is worth it. One builder of very light and relatively low-priced canoes, mostly whitewater but some flatwater, is There are lots of lightweight composite touring and rec kayaks. However, lightweight composite whitewater kayaks with big cockpits are rather scarce.

sorry to hear
… that you guys injured you backs. Much more common than one would expect. I’m about 7 months in a rutured l5 disc and itz slowly improving. I’ve got really tight hamstrings so a kayak are outta the question. Plus in a canoe you can kneel, sit… just shift around more which i’ve noticed I have to do personally.

Spoke with Dave Curtis with Hemlock Canoe works because I decided on gettin one of his solos. His wife ruptured and had surgery on her lumbar spine 20 years ago. He said kneeling works for her best also, with her seat angled to rest on like those kneelin seats.

Not sure if your deadset on a kayak, but here are some good lightweight solo canoes out there. Most the ones I’ve considered where around 30lbs.

Good luck with your purchase and you back!

Yo Han

Hope it all works out for you. It will defaintely take time so be pateint and keep your spirits up. Makes sure you find good orthopedic spine surgeon… a couple actually for several opinions. I been locked up in my house for about 6 months and am just finally feeling better, but i’ve talked to ppl who got better in 3 months. It varies, but takes time.

Do as much as you can, walking is really good and so is swiming. Feel welcome to email me… i researched this injury and does and don’t for over a half year;)

Be well!

Yo Han

that’s too bad about your back.
i do enjoy commiserating with folks here though and learning about their physical issues. i gather that lots of people on pnet are older than i and i know i look forward to the same problems if i don’t have em already. sometimes i make adjustments just on advice from other sufferers to avoid those injuries.

as for kayaking, i’m concerned that it may be hard on your back. the legs out sitting position is quite hard for some people. i do both canoeing and kayaking and find canoeing marginally easier on the back due to the variety of sitting positions. some good advice on previous posts, best wishes for years of paddling!

Don’t have to…
…be older. I’ve meet several ppl in therapy that were in their early to mid 20s with ruptured disc. I was 29 when I injured my. From what I’ve learned it is more more common to rupture disc during the 20s to mid 30s. All it takes is one bad move… mine was trying to lift something to heavy in the garage. But hey, you gotta move on and work with what you got.

Sorry not trying to hijack your tread… I’ll shutup now;)

Yo Han

Gave up kayaking
I gave up kayaking after two herniated discs and continuing problems. In stead I’ve found I can canoe all day by alternating sitting with kneeling. I also found I could sit and row all day. I would have never guessed that r.owing would actually make my back feel better, but it does.

I can kayak for about a half hour a day; any more and I’m crippled for a few days.

I recommend you borrow a kayak or rent it before you buy. if it doesn’t work out they sell really nice and fast canoes too. They are just not as trendy

back surgery
I had my back surgery, L4 microdisectomy, at the end of November and I can feel improvement every week. I am looking forward to kayaking in the spring. I asked my surgeon about kayaking and he said not now but in a few months. I can’t break through the ice now anyway. So for now I am doing my therapy evercises.

I hope your recovery is as good as mine is so far. And listen to the doctor. Don’t hurry the recovery. I have heard of those he over did it with lifting and bending prematurely and are in trouble now.

Take care.

To answer your question - the most
supportive and adjustable seat I have found is the Phase 3 in WS kayaks. I too feel your pain. I re-ruptured the disc between L3 and 4 in December and am now, hopefully, on the mend.

I think it was Greyak who talked about his back feeling better after paddling when it is done correctly. I have had the same experience. IMHO , the danger to your back occurs during loading and unloading the boat ,and getting in and out, not paddling it. I will shortly buy a trailer so I don’t have to lift any more boats.

Look at the Pungo 140. It is a touring rec. boat with a Phase 3 seat and an open cockpit. It might be a good rehab boat.