My son is 15 and a very keen Canoeist enrolled as a junior member of his local club. Recently he has been experiencing dead-legs after about 15 mins Kayaking. It is ruining his enjoyment of the sport and means he can’t compete in races. He finds it helps if he puts a piece of sponge under his seat so that is body is higher than his legs but this is only effective for a few minutes. Any suggestions?

Seat cushion

good posture,no slouching back
a extrra pad for supporting the thighs where they extend out in front of the seat.

But the biggest key is in behavior of the paddler. Pressing gently with each leg on the side where the paddle is active is a help. This will keep blood curculation and drive the boat.

If all this doesn’t work, put them all together with a gel seat.

Sweet Cheeks
Jackson Kayaks makes a seat cushion called Sweet Cheeks

that really works. I had the same problem and basically stopped it with the new cushion.

I also know that the numbness was always happening at about the 15-20 minute mark. If I could get past that point it usually got much better for longer periods. Once past I could be good for hours, then stop for lunch and experience the same thing again after starting back up for the afternoon.

Stretching is the other thing that will help as much as any prosthetic device. I also have noticed that the numbness goes away after time, but I think that is related to the amount of movement that I am doing. At 15 yrs that should not be near as big a problem as it is for me at 48.

Good Luck,


There are several threads about this
So you might do a search. One of the things I learned from the previous threads is that tight hamstrings are often the problem. When tight they press aqainst the sciatic nerve and cause numbness, especially in the kayak seating position. Try stretching them 3 or 4 times a day and chances are the problem will go away.

Good Luck
The only thing that I found that works for me…is the Phase 3 seat by Wilderness Systems…not perfect but…it helps!

I can attest to this
I had this same problem, and while a seat pad did help, stretching solved my problem and made me a believer in stretching before i hit the water

Touring or WW?

– Last Updated: Jun-11-06 5:00 PM EST –

When touring - and the legs are actively engaged in the stroke as they should be - it's hard for them to go dead.

Pads and gizmos are for old fart lily dippers with poor posture and fitness too low to sit up - not for 15 year olds. Get him a copy of The Reitz and/or Barton forward stroke videos. With better technique the outfitting can be quite spartan (actually preferable) and still comfortable over the long haul.

Some of this should resolve itself over time as he adapts too - so don't be in a huge rush to make outfitting changes right off.

I have seen teenagers just as stiff…
as an old fart, especially if they engage in sports that create tight hamstrings (like 100 meter dash). I wouldn’t assume it is bad technique or posture until we know more.

It May be Seating Position
in that particular boat for that particular person. I have the same problem in my QCC, and I’ve noted at least three or four other people experienced same. I’ve always stretched, actually very limber, and have no such problems in my surf ski, or in some of the other boats I’ve tried at length, like the Valley Rapier. Tried seat pads, gel pads, thigh supports, no good. In my Q-Ship, I find the thigh braces too low, forcing my legs down into a frog-legged stance, and the keyhole cockpit too narrow to pop my legs out for any length of time. Yesterday I paddled the ski for about an hour and a half and lent my Q-Tip to a friend who owns an Epic 18. His bum was numb after 35 min-in real stoic pain after an hour fifteen. He thought the seat position was too far forward, forcing him to jam back and sit on the rear lip of the seat; I feel similarly-neither of us use a BB. I have one last recourse in changing out the seat altogether as recommended by Franklin. Try your son in a different boat (or several if you can) and see if he experiences same.

finally have mine adjusted
The phase three seat is comfy, now that I have it adjusted to my liking.

When legs get tired I take breaks from the foot pegs and do some leg exercises (stretch and wiggle) for a few minutes every so often.

no kidding
check out the number of teenagers who can’t touch their toes

Another Idea
This goes along with the stretching. When my leg starts to go numb, I lay back on the deck and kinda pop my lower back and the numbness goes away.

Good Luck.


What boat is he paddling?

Gel Pad…
Had a similar problem with the seat in my CLC 17. Legs would go numb after a while. Bought a gel pad and haven’t had aproblem since.

My fibreglass (Artisan Millenium) boat has a really comfortable seat. It’s on a pivot and swings a bit. Also it’s samll so just the butt cheeks are in the seat, legs don’t even touch the seat. Have never had any numbness. Can sit in that boat for hours.


Tight muscles is no joke
When I was a kid in High School Track, I couldn’t touch my toes, or stretch anywhere close to what hurdler’s could - - just won’t go. I ran cross country and had a hell of a time getting my ankles higher than my waist during stretching (basically stretching was more of a pain than just running 7 miles)

Now I’m 44 - - and I still can’t touch my toes. There is at least 6 inches of open air between my finger tips and my toes.

Since I have just started kayaking, I am experimenting with way’s to eliminate the problem of numb legs. I didn’t notice it the first time out, but definitly did my second trip out. One thing I am thinking of doing is either raising the back part of the bottom seat up a bit, or lowering the front.

Just something I am thinking about.