First try kayaking

I rented a kayak today for an hour. Okay, 50 minutes until I drug myself back. I’m 56, 6’4, 280, and my back is junk. I read up on paddling and tried to follow that.

Big problem: I cannot ordinarily sit on the floor with my back unsupported. No indian crosslegs sitting- never could. In the sot kayak (scrambler xt) my hips or legs at the top front were killing me. I got out once (which was a funny little disaster in itself!) and walked a minute. My arms, shoulders, and even my bad back were fine, well- my back started going right at the end. I am in terrible shape, but I am going to cardiac rehab after a triple bypass, so I am trying to get in better shape.

Question: Is this pain common? Will it pass? Oh, the back of the seat straps were attached with a bungy cord- if that matters. Thanks!

Adjusting for leg position
If I remember correctly the Scrambler has fixed foot rest slots. Getting the proper leg length support point is important in preventing leg pain. You might have been caught between proper foot rest points. In the Scrambler you would adjust the backrest forward or backward to get a proper leg length fit with one of the available foot rest cut-outs.

With other kayaks the foot-rests slide in small increments and the seat is fixed. You simply move the footrests to a pain-free leg position.

If you go again, try to get someone to explain the backrest or foot-brace adjustment and try a few different settings to see if you can find one that is pain free.

Good luck.


Oh. It did have set footrests and I didn’t even try adjusting the seat. I’ll try that! Thank you!

foot/seat position will help, but…

– Last Updated: May-17-11 1:18 AM EST –

Foot and seat position will help, but it likely will not be a discomfort-free experience for you at first. Kayaking does use certain muscles that are not used in most people (and possibly have been a bit less used by you than most, given the heart condition and weight).

But they get stronger with use. So getting out and paddling will help make the discomforts go away just because the muscles in question get stronger. Or you could do some targeted exercises and stretches (like sit ups) or take up full body strengthening like yoga or pilates.

bad backs and kayaks
Some people with back problems simply don’t tolerate the posture that a kayak requires and you might be one of them. I’m not suggesting you give up right away, but if you think you would enjoy paddling and continue to have back problems, try a canoe.

I have known some long-term kayakers who went to a canoe because of hip or back problems, and some long-term canoeists who went to a kayak because of knee or ankle problems.

OP not having back problem mainly
but rather hips to front upper legs. I haven’t heard that particular complaint so there may be some extra problem where a doctor and/or physical therapist could help.

In general when it’s just a matter of weak muscles I suggest trying to go out VERY often, but VERY briefly each time. The idea is to let the muscles feel some stress to develop but not to the point of injury or major pain. Since this requires going out only for short periods at first you need to do it more often to keep the benefits of each time out. Finding other paddling like activities (maybe something at the gym) might help if it’s hard to get out multiple days a week.

Thigh Support
Thigh support helps me a lot. Put a rolled up towel or a pool noodle under your thighs and see if it helps.

cant sit
If you can’t sit on the floor with your back unsupported I can’t imagine kayaking is ever going to be fun. Canoe.

Ryan L.

tend to agree
If failing to sit ‘Indian style’ was a result of some accident or such I would suggest physical therapy. But if he could never do that then it sounds like some congenital problem for which he should at least consult a doctor to understand better. Generally even those in very poor condition can sit that way unless there is some specific trauma or defect present.

Thank you all. I went to cardiac rehab today and discussed this with the therapist. (My wife suggested that, doh!) They gave me some targeted stretches

and I start yoga tomorrow! I mentioned it and

they said why don’t you come to yoga classes. I didn’t even know they had such a thing! It is even covered for 2 months in my rehab. She said it is just because I am inflexible. I really want to have this work as I need to keep up an activity level and a bass boat isn’t going to help.

If it doesn’t work out, I will get a canoe, they are fun as well. I used to have a six hour (HA!) canoe I built and paddled with a kayak paddle. It looked like kayaks glided easier and farther, but it didn’t seem like it when I tried it.

Thanks for the great suggestions!

Stretching will help.

Tall backrests may look inviting, but for active paddling many folks prefer a backband that just supports the lower back. this makes it easier to rotate your torso for a more efficient stroke and easier maneuvering.

Good paddling involves the whole body, not just the arms.

As mentioned, some folks who can’t comfortably sit flat have rigged solo canoes with backbands and footrests, and use a double-bladed paddle. A good solo canoe will be much easier to paddle than the “six-hour canoe”. That’s a neat design for easy construction, but not the best for performance.

Good luck!