Feet numbing in bottom of boat..

When paddling, my feet tend to go numb after so long. Does anyone else have this problem? How did you remedy the lack of circulation?

Just wondering because it can be quite an annoyance.


I too had this problem
try to put some thing under your knees, I bought some closed cell foam and made my own knee suport then velcroed it to the boat just in front my seat, then while paddling push on the foot peg on the side that is your active paddle blade this will help to keep the blood flowing to your feet. Oh and drink lots of water before, and during paddling. These things might help.

good luck, George

Another problem
It’s not necessarily a matter of blood circulation. It can also be the result of local pressure on your spine.

can be on spine - but more often pressure is on the back of the thighs from the front edge of the seat. Doesn’t take much there to restrict flow.

Extending the front edge of the seat with some foam - or using something as a thigh cushion can relieve this.

Sometimes, just shortening the footpegs a notch or two will do the trick and put a littel more bend in your leg to lift the thigh up (or get you farther back on the seat pan).

Torso rotation - and incorporating/working the legs alternately - will also do wonders for keeping the blood flowing.

I find my toes going a little numb due to constant pressure I put on the bottom of my feet on the foot pegs… I wiggle my toes and try to relax by moving the stress to another body part…hips or legs or arms (bracing) for a while.

I do the same when my stomach muscles become sore from paddling…I go to arm paddling for a short period to give the stomach a rest.

Very simple, dump the yak, get a canoe!
Works every time!!!

Happy Paddl’n!!!



Good point
I forgot that as I no longer have pegs! Amazing how much better feet, legs, adn back have been since.

When I did have (same) pegs - I had the same thing - sometimes just parts of my feet! One drawback of small pegs - particularly the rounded SealLine ones.

If I had to have pegs (rudder/multiple paddler fit) I’d seriously look at mounting KajakSport pedals. Big and comfy, and flex enough to work for many rudder systems.

inspiring me to faom out my bulkhead
only two inches at the toes and about three at the heels required.

Also let me recommend having your ankles at an angle well above 90 degrees and (like the others) more thigh support.

I do a lot of canoeing too, but sometimes you can’t beat the speed and maneuverability of my little yak. Haha.

Great suggestions guys, I’m definitely going to try it. I’m a pretty big guy (6’4, 230ish) and my thighs are really thick and muscular, so I usually don’t have a whole lot of room to move around, especially vertically with my knees. I’ll definitely try to to extend my seat a bit–perhaps rolling up a towel to put under my thighs.

I also found that if I take my foot off the pegs for a bit and just resting them in the bottom would do the trick, but sometimes that isn’t an option when it’s windy or rough currents (they tend to have a party with my rudder).

It just sucks when you’re going through really rough water and you can’t feel your feet. Makes balancing tough, plus its just as uncomfortable as hell.

But thanks for the suggestions. Keep 'em coming!


Do it Peter!
(assuming skegged boat) I used bnystrom’s suggestion of a 15 degree tilt which has been great. You won’t believe the difference in comfort - and how much the pegs limit you and cause a chain reaction up through your body.

Easy to do - and easier to go back if you don’t like it.

Target has nice gray minicell exercise mats (interlocking kind) about 5/8" think that make a nice outer layer than is meant for feet! As Little as you need to fill you could just cut layer and stack them (you get 4 2’x2’ sheets in a pack). Much easier to cut the angle from one piece of 3" think minicell though, then decide if you want a tougher outer layer.

If you get the distance right - position will be perfect - but you can still push into the foam a little and lock out your legs to stretch if you want. It’s so comfortable, you probably will forget about stretching mots paddles.

If you’ve got a therma-rest around, try it for a thigh pad. I use one in my boat & love it. It is mostly deflated, and I roll it up pretty tight. I keep it maybe 4"-6" in front of the seat. In addition to making me more comfortable, I feel like I’m locked into the boat better too.

There are also cushioned foot rests which I should get.

Leg numbness
I ordered my boat with the bulkhead at 34 inches, and I have just enough room to stretch my legs out straight, but if I put just a little pressure on the bulkhead with my toes I am locked up under the thigh braces. This is one of the advantages of a boat with relatively low volume in the cockpit. When I paddle in very calm water I just leave my legs straight and that is when the numbness starts. It is caused by just a little pressure behind the thighs at the edge of the seat pan. To alleviate that I just lock my legs up under the thigh braces for a couple of minutes and the problem is resolved. All this is to show that it doesn’t take much pressure to cause the problem, and the problem is fairly easy to resolve. I think Sealine makes an inflatable cushion as a thigh pad, or a partially inflated paddle float just under the legs in front of the seat should work.

modify the seat
I didn’t catch what kind of kayak you have but the solution of putting a support under the thighs is what most folks start with because that’s pretty much the quickest and easiest thing to do as there is nothing there, by logical extension if there was no seat in the kayak a person would put in a seat,and solve the problem at the source.

In order of importance I’d look at the seat, your posture, then feet. The seat should incorporate adequate butt/hip/thigh support. You torso weight is pressing down onto coccyx and sit bones,with a bunch of fat/muscle around it. The idea with a good seat is to have the contour AROUND your butt to press in and support your skeleton,not just lay in mattresses of cushion extending out to your thighs.

The side support to your thighs/hips with a depression for top of thigh bones and slight rise inbetween your thighs will do more to provide support than just a bolster,having side support to your butt will decrease point pressure on the sciatic nerve which is source of your numbness.

Try placing wedges of minicell between your ankle bone and outside of the hull to see if that helps,or stops for your heels.

www.kayakfit.com for ideas.

I have a Zoar Sport with the inflatable seat. It has pretty decent support, but, being pretty tall, my back isn’t very well supported and I tend to find myself leaning a bit forward off the seat (the seat-back sucks). Maybe that has something to do with it as well?


how long does it take to develop?
you might try sitting up straight,a heel rest,and experiment with little wedges of minicell to see what provides better support.

Heel pads
Adding heel pads made my feet a lot more comfortable. 1/2’ minicell is fine padding but abrades quickly, so I added a layer of thin neoprene(fabric side up) which solved the problem. Booties with a nice heel cup also help distribute pressure.

When kneeling in canoes my lower legs, ankles, and feet would lose circulation from the pressure on them by my upper legs & butt. Don’t know if this is what your problem is… I simply used some of the short “canoe carrier” foam blocks and shaved more out of em’ to fit around/onto my lower shins…just a hair above the ankles.

Works great…

Thigh Support AND
ankle support.

I use the Phase III for thigh support then use a foam block under my ankles/calves and I am set. If it gets a little uncomfortable after a while, I slide the block a little further up my calves or down toward my feet. No numbness. No heel pain. Less need to get out and stretch.