Hips and legs

went numb on me after about an hour paddling around the local lake. Felt more like something neurological as opposed to the “falling asleep” sensation when you have restricted blood flow to a hand or foot.

I had been moving my feet a bit and trying to move my legs as best I could to stay comfortable but this happened anyways.

What am I doing wrong? Posture?? Tension??

probably the seat
My boyfriend has that problem with a lot of kayaks (including several of mine) – usually it is the sitting position and seat design. You may need some support under your thighs. It’s hard to diagnose that from afar for someone – all I can suggest is to try some alterations. Get a piece of closed cell foam, like 1/2" ensolite or a yoga mat, or one of the self inflating seat pads or sleeping mats like Thermarest, and roll or fold it up to put under your thighs to elevate them off the seat lip. You can also completely remove the existing seat and install an aftermarket one – I have heard great things about the carved foam “Bumfortable” seat. I have also heard of people just taking a whole full length Thermarest and stuffing it in the cockpit with half behind their back and the other half folded in half under their hips and upper legs. It always seems to take some experimentation.

Adjusting the foot pegs so your legs are lifted a bit off the seat can help. Also sitting up straight, even leaning slightly forward while paddling and not slouching against the seat back. These help for me anyway.

If you have an opportunity, arrange to borrow or rent other kayak models and see if you experience the same effect. The most comfortable seats among the kayaks I have ever used are the Feathercraft and Pakboat folding kayaks (these are inflatable seats that are very adjustable), the Venture brand kayaks and the Snapdragon backband and a Thermarest under my butt in my hand made Greenland boat. I find most plastic molded seats really uncomfortable. I don’t know whose bottom they are designed for but it is certainly not mine.

Seat advise

– Last Updated: Jun-15-12 10:07 PM EST –

California Kayak magazine had some good seat advise in their December 2010 edition. http://www.calkayakermag.com/magazine.html
Also be sure to take advantage of the foot pegs; when you are paddling on the right side put pressure on your left foot/peg and use it to help you rotate. The same thing on the opposite side.

Stretching Practice
Stretching exercises help if done regularly thru the week

Not restricted blood flow
That is mostly a myth. It is almost always constriction of nerves (especially the sciatic nerve). This can happen in lots of different ways and depends on many circumstances. For example, in my case, I can get a deadening feeling in my feet and legs and pain from constant pressure on the bottom of my feet (especially the heels) in my sea kayak. But if I simply alternate pressure from right to left and back (as you should with torso rotation) I have no problem, unless too much time elapses. Almost anyone will need an out-of-boat break after an hour or three. Another common source is holding the leg muscles taut in order to support the legs or knees in an elevated position (which both constricts nerves and produces muscle fatigue). Support under the knees will often get rid of this. Problems with seats are often counter intuitive. In general you want a seat that is higher under your thighs than under your butt. You might think that would constrict the sciatic nerve but it actually supplies leg support that helps reduce muscle fatigue and nerve constriction. So you have a large number of variables and a large number of individual differences. Try everything that seems reasonable for you.

Knee angle
As alluded to above, make sure your knees are bent somewhat. As your thighs leave the seat they should be angled upwards (and maybe slightly outward). Then from the high point of your knees your lower legs should angle down to your feet which should be firmly against your foot pegs. Having the foot pegs too far away can often result in straight, dead (asleep) legs. Some people will put a towel or pad under their thighs to help support the raised thighs. I find the foot pressure against the correctly adjusted foot pegs keeps the legs up where they belong. Good luck.

Thank you
to all of the respondants. All of what has been mentioned matches well to the info provided in the article in the California Kayaker Magazine. Its a two part article and well worth a read for those of us new to the sport.

Second that - great advice
I ended up using their trick of an inflated paddle float as a knee support and it really works well. Cured that problem.

I had same experience and still do if
I forget to raise the thigh supports a bit. If I raise the supports (Wilderness Systems Zephyr) the problem disappears.