Hip Stress - Where to point toes.

Know I am not the only one because I have heard others complain. But, have searched all over the web and found no discussion.

Here is my question/problem: After a couple of hours in my kayak (Wavesport X) I can feel the stress and some minor pain/stiffness in my hip joints (at pelvis). Others are complaining of back, legs and feet. Mine are fine but the hips…

I have been trying to self diagnos and the best I can figure it is from the way I point my feet. When I sit in the boat I place my feet with the toes on the foot pad pointing to the side of the boat and my heels pointing to the middle of the boat. This allows me to push my knees out further to get better contact with the thigh pads. This feels like it gives me the most positive contact with the boat. But I think the position is what is putting stress on my hip joint.

Looking for some ideas on cockpit setup to reduce the hip stress and give good boat contact and address where toes and heels should should point. I have a good back band and just right width on hip pads mostly looking for help from the feet to the thigh brace.

Put some “dump” in your rump
Put some padding under your thighs{in the seat}


build up the thigh hooks with more padz it will bring your knees back closer together

hip pain
Something to think about but what are you wearing? I’ve noticed substantial hip pain & soreness this season after moving from my baggy drysuit to thick (3mm) or thin farmer johns. I think the neoprene clothing is tight enough that it wants me to be straight, not bent at the waist.


vary position
There are a lot of variables from your health, flexibility and boat fit. Those are hard to figure without seeing you and your boat. But most folks don’t handle one static position for long. Make sure you’re not too tight in your boat – contact is good, but don’t get carried away. Also when conditions permit take your feet of the pegs some perhaps even pulling your legs out from the thigh braces. Stretch. You may also benefit from a cushion (paddle float, etc.) under your thighs. I needed such a cushion more for my legs (finally I adjusted to not need this), but maybe it will help other body parts. Variety in position is key.

Center foot rest?
To me a center foot rest with feet parallel (or in a slight V if you have to use the brace points under the sides of the deck and spread your knees) offers a more ergonomic position than what you describe. If you can make and install one, it is worth the try - you can try to just tape a piece of flat board to the front side of the foot pegs to get a feel for it and if you like it, make something more permanent…

Also, a thick piece of foam to support your upper legs fron the side/under might help - the braces you likely have in the kayak help you push-up. These would allow your legs to rest on them when not pushing up. Some WW boats have these and they are quite comfortable, especially when knees are wide separated (not needed at all with knees together, where you may want something under your upper legs but that may interfere with leg action).

Still, unless you get up from the seat there is not much of a range of motion for the hip joint, so stop and walk from time to time or take the legs outside of the cockpit hanging in the water may be in order to avoid that…

Hip pain
can be caused by pushing the hip area back too hard into a low back support when paddling, especially while rotating in the stroke. Try staying conscious of the pressure of that area,(particularly the area directly below and inside the pointy bone in the back hip area) into the support when paddling, and move forward off of the support if there is too much pressure.


Yoga & stretching also
In addition to the modifications mentioned. Even a few simple moves will help. After 3 car accidents, the only thing that helps me is lotsa yoga & stretching. Makes you feel 10 years younger. Google some simple exercises for the hip area-slow & steady & you will see improvements fairly quickly.

Get Happy Feet
from Jackson Kayak and remove whatever foot supports you have.


what peter and mystical said
Hip pain can be an indicator of sciatic stress. Is your seat comfortable, not just for your hips, but for your back?

Helpful hints to try-
#1: Posture–don’t slouch. It will put stress on your spine and tailbone.

#2: Do some stretching excercises as already noted.

#3: Check the internet for back strengthening exercises.

I fell in my son’s landing a couple of years ago and afterwards while paddling, my hip would hurt so bad, I’d have to stop, get out of the boat, stand up and walk around a bit.

After being diagnosed with two compressed discs and having physical therepy, then afterwards continuing the exercises, I’m fine.

BUT! If I get lax about doing #1-3, OUCH!! It’s back.

Hope this and the advice of the others helps. There’s nothing more rotten than not being able to enjoy the out of doors.

I have a train wreck of a spine and
recently broke off a piece of my L4 disc (I suspect the Greenland style laybacks have not helped and the fragmentation is right sided which happens to be my strong side for rolling). I have suffered with some degree of hip pain since I started kayaking. I have removed the foot braces in my boats and built up the bulkheads with minicell. I put 2" blocks outboard for maximum contact and relieve the center so that I can stretch my legs when needed. I relieve the hip pain by rotating my foot inward and my heel outward in a deliberate stretch. This really makes the difference for me. Stay off the backband as much as possible and keep your torso forward of vertical. I actually sold my Q boat because I could not stop the right leg and foot numbness that I got in it. I tried everything I could think of from multiple seat changes to backbands and clothing. The boat was just a bad fit for me. If I am doing more than 15 miles, I will take 800 mgs of Advil before I head out. It sure can make for a more noromal feeling day. I am hoping my body will reabsorb the broken piece of disc, otherwise it is back under the knife. Good luck and try the rotation stretch and make sure yo have no bind in the seat. Bill

not good for ballerinas
evidently it is not good for dancers or athletes of any kind to splay the feet or turn out the legs in these positions.

take seriously the posts here. you can be doing damage to yourself!!!

give yourself ways to not splay outward at all or less. don’t simply keep doing it and trying remedies like yoga which should only be for repair not to find ways to stretch yourself so you can tolerate doing something wrong, this is misusing these methods.

I also want to stress the importance of
stretching. I also had frequent hip pain after spending a couple of hours in my boat. I found that ham-string stretches (just bend forward at the waist with your legs straight out in front of you) and parisformis hip stretches eliminated the problem very quickly. There’s a good explanation of the parisformis stretch at http://www.rice.edu/~jenky/sports/piri.2.html.

Aggressive Outfitting
Last fall my regular kayak (P&H Sirius) was out of commission for a while, so I installed thigh braces in a Boreal Muktuk. It’s a relatively wide boat for me (23"), with only side straps for hip contact. So I positioned the thigh braces pretty aggressively to make up for the boat width and the lack of hip support.

This forced my knees way outward, and forced the back of my thighs against the front edge of the seat. Result? Hip pain and sciatica so bad I could barely paddle.

This was on a RICKA trip with Greg Pacquin out to the Fisher Island tidal race, which is about 3 miles out from Stonington, CT. On Fishers Island I ended up ripping and cutting the thigh braces off, but by then the sciatica was so bad that it took a week to settle down. That return trip across Fisher Island Sound was the longest 3 miles of my life.

A couple lessons learned. One is that outfitting may not be the solution to a badly-fitting kayak. I had to lock my legs down so hard to get contact that I ended up damaging my body. Another is not to take an unfamiliar kayak into challenging conditions. I ended up inflicting my misery on the group and became a burden.

I share this in hopes that it’ll help somebody else avoid making the same kinds of mistakes.