Help for Lower Back Paine while paddling

I had to sell my beloved sea kayak because I could not sit in it for more than 45 minutes without pain. I now have two rec kayaks so I can bend my knees as needed. It helps-some. One boat is an Eddyline 14 with their older seat. Unfortunately, their newer seat will not fit my older boat.
I am in reasonably good shape. Any suggestions?

I have had the same problem for a long time. The best thing I’ve done to keep paddling is get a SOT.
I have paddled a WS Tarpon for years . Although it is a chore to get out of because my back locks up ,I’m comfortable while paddling. The Tarpon is for sale because it has gotten too heavy to handle off the water.
I also have a Stellar S14S SOT which has great back support.
Ironically, the boat I’ve used the most this summer is a WS Pungo, a rec+ boat with a great seat and plenty of room to move your legs. But, I can’t get out without help unless I roll it over. A true wet exit.
Advice? Good Paddling partners and keep on as much as you can.


try a canoe.

Lower the back band, I have degenerative spinal disease and my spinal surgeon suggested it. Helps a lot.

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I will second the idea of a canoe.

If you are down grading to an open rec-kayak you are faced with the same problems as an open canoe with the exception of maybe the rec-kayak having some sealed compartments to offer flotation if you happen to capsize. You will still be sitting on the bottom of the boat with legs straight out and back at 90 degrees.

With a canoe you can easily add some flotation if needed and seating options are greater. You can still have a foot brace or pegs if you want. Your butt will be up a good 6-8” off the floor and depending on how you set it up you can still paddle with a double blade.

I converted a tandem to a solo and put in a very comfortable seat back seat as I know my knees are shot and not getting better only worse. I paddle with a double blade and the seat back is angled just enough that if I want to paddle hard I’m leaning forward and my back is free to turn and when I need a break I can float or paddle lightly with the back support and my knees in whatever position feels good. I even cross my feet some as a way to change position.

I find between 14-15’ is a great solo length for a canoe and still not to large for hauling and such. :canoe:

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Do you do core exercises?


Not enough! Just a lot of bending and kneeling while working.

Yes. I have looked at them. My brother String has been through quite a few. Just not there yet!

One thing I didn’t mention. Not sitting in water all day is also a plus. :roll_eyes:

When you are ready you will know it. :canoe:

I wondered if there was another Hitide.
I have owned a Wenonah Voyager, a PBW Rapidfire, a Mad River Malecite, and currently an Indian River tandem.
The first 3 were great boats but my back will not tolerate a bench seat . I got the Indian River to take my growing puppy but we didn’t do well on our maiden voyage.

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Yep that will cause back problems.

You might actually enjoy core exercises. I think they are the first thing every physical therapist prescribes for lower back pain. I’ve had my share of lower back problems but now spend a little time like 10-15 minutes 4-5 days a week and it makes a HUGE difference. Tons of options on the web or YouTube, just pick a few you like and you will notice an improvement within two weeks.


Eddylines that I have seen tend to have pretty high seat backs which encourages folks use as them as “back rests”.

The thing that took lower back pain away for me was to get rid of the seat back altogether which forces me to sit up in a better position and engage my torso in driving my stroke. For me, it was thinking that I needed to have contact (support) on my lower back. Turns out I didn’t and I don’t. It wasn’t about strengthening my core muscles, back muscles or any muscles at all. I am not in great shape and I am at least a half century past having any sort of a six-pack so it isn’t that.

Just try removing it and try paddling without back support for a few hours. If it doesn’t help put it back. If it does help put the lowest back band (NOT BACK REST) in the boat and adjust it so that when you lean back hard you contact it instead of the cockpit rim.

Give it a try. What the heck.

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Pungo’s are an underrated boat imo. Personally I find the seat/backrest uncomfortable compared to a sea kayak, but most other people find them comfortable and they are super sturdy. The tour company I worked at used them and they are super reliable and durable compared to other rec boats. I really enjoyed paddling them.

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So do I.

And my kids and grandkids.


Having lived with back pain for years, my final answer was …walking. Whenever the pain ran down my leg, a couple of miles of gentle walking would make it go away. Sometimes, it took three or four days of a mile or two, but, every time, walking was my salvation. I now try to hit the gym 2 or three days a week. Ten minutes on the treadmill, ( and 100 pulls on the rowing machine), and I am better. At 83, I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do.


I never put that much water in my canoe. I liked canoes, but started having problems sitting long without back support. One reason I went with the Pungo was a recommendation about the WS phase three seats being good. Recently, I rely less on the seat back.

My back problem is associated with a worn L5 lumbar disk from slouch sitting. A chiropractor used voodoo magic to straighten me out and told me use ice. That was in 1995, and it has held up pretty well. If it gets sore, a few applications of ice takes care of it. A friend of mine uses heat, because it feels good, but that just increases the swelling.

I used to swim laps alongside a 97 year old woman at the YMCA. She would swim 4 laps (8 lengths of the pool -200 yards). She has a great sense of humor and I remember her telling me “when you’re 97 go for 4!”.

For a while, I was walking in our local public pool. They set the entire pool aside for an hour every morning for walking or swimming laps. Walking, while using the resistance of the water, was a great, quick exercise for this old codger.

This is one of the problems of internet forums as we are all at different stages of life and then at any given age we are far different levels of our bodies degrading.

If someone would have told me at 47 I would be using an aid to get my 90# canoe on and off the roof of my car at age 67 I would have laughed. The option for all this stuff is adapt or give up.

Of course if exercise is an option and it likely is for almost everyone then by all means go for it. I would suggest all of the above. Strengthen muscles will better support worn out bones and connective tissues but will not repair them.

There are many ways we feel pain and the solution should be a combination of all the above.

I paddle with mostly people about 30 years younger than me and in much better shape but also just recreational paddlers, all of them in rec-kayaks. My joints are in far worse condition and I’m normally the last to suggest a break to get out and stretch. I can keep up on long paddles and most of the time they are glad I’m along in the canoe as I end up hauling some of their gear/luxury items.

When asked about my setup and I get asked quite a bit I tell them it is an old man’s fishing Canoe.

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