how long can you tolerate kneeling while paddling your canoe? also, are there any excericises or stretchesthat would help build up a bit of endurance in the knelling position?

Acually with a proper seat height and good glued in pads I can kneel almost as long as I can sit. I usually trade of between the 2. My back seems to hold up better kneeling than sitting. Enjoy, Chris

pad placement
Make sure your pads are located to give you a comfortably wide stance with the pads positioned so that you can kneel comfortably forward of the seat but still leaning against it. With good pad placement, I have to force myself to switch to sitting. With bad pad placement, I get killed kneeling and pay for days afterward.

kneeling is my steady state, butt resting on the front edge of my seat. I sit occasionally just to rest, but always end up back on the knees.

Different sitting positions include one leg extended, one tucked under. I also sometimes paddle for brief periods up off the seat and on my knees. It helps stretch the back and gives a new outlook on the river.

Baby we were born to kneel
Well some of us anyway.

I can kneel all day but sit for only an hour or two.

To make kneeling more comfortable make sure you don’t have pants, wetsuit or whatever buching up behind your knees. Lots of folks actualy cut out their wetsuits behind the knee to avoid that pain.

Try adjusting your seat height. Higher should be more comfortable, lower more stable. I like around 9" off the floor but go lower in some of my boats.

The best stretch I know for kneeling is kneeling. If you watch TV try kneeling in front of the set. I’ve got a six pack cooler that works as a kneeling seat. It should get easier the more you do it.

Some of us just can’t
Kneeling can be excruciating or impossible for some people, myself included, because of the way our legs and feet are put together. In my case, my feet are naturally turned toes out and I can’t turn them with heels out to kneel. So, when I kneel, my toes point straight backwards with heels up, an impossible position to maintain. If you have this or a similar problem, you might have to just give up on trying to kneel.

i prefer kneeling. but, after a while it’s the anterior area of my ankle, between my feet and legs, that begins to ache. while i kneel my feet are pointed straight back, closer to turning inward than outward. i’m wondering if i need to stretch this area more and how, or do i need to turn my feet out while kneeling? my knees and back do not bother me.

And then there are those of us…
…who have a bone on bone knee from our old marathoning days and it is impossible.

About seven or eight years ago I tried kneeling in a five mile race in a small C-1, and when I was done I thought they would have to pry me out of the kneeling position.

Never again!



A six-pack cooler would be to distracting for me! I’ve heard people suggest kneeling on a basketball - and as you get more comfortable (less uncomfortable?), you can let out some air.


Give up
Sounds like you have the same problem I do. Sorry, but I recommend giving up. If you want to paddle whitewater, get a kayak.

Wha Ho, Pilgrim;

Ah’s kin kneel all day long, but can’t sit fer mor’ than 15 minoots. But it be a’mighty funny ta watch dis here varmint try an’ git out o’ me canoo after 5-6 hours a’padllin’on me knees. Dem thaar ankles not be wat they used ta be…

Fat Elmo

Is that the front the back or somewhere else?

I do get some pain in my ankles when I start out. For some reason standing up and walking around makes that go away so I try to take an ankle break after a I’ve been paddling for a bit.

Some folks I know use a block or wedge of foam under their ankles. Others use footpegs so that their toes point down instead of back.

When I’m in a boat without foot pegs my toes are straight back.

Hey if you use Pat’s basket ball idea when you are stretching you can get at the beer without getting up!

I can kneel for quite a while
I kneel when I need to be more stable. I end up with my toes pointed straight back as most people do. You just have to get used to that by doing it. On calm water I do tend to sit rather than kneel, although I do put one knee down and the other leg extended with my butt on the seat. I find this to have almost the same control and power as kneeling.

I can’t do it.
I am one of those people that can’t kneel comfortably. When I try I regret it. It took me only a very short time to figure this out.

My big feet are also splayed, but I can
kneel quite comfortably, with tops of feet flat on the bottom of the boat.

Folks need to determine the focus of the problem. Is it the ankles? The knees? Edge-of-seat fatigue? Each has a different solution.

When I got into serious whitewater (1974), there were NO WW kayaks to fit very large people, open canoes were still long and clumsy, but decked C-1s could fit almost anyone. So, to paddle whitewater with agility and without bailing, we had to learn to kneel rather low, and for long periods. Somehow it just worked out. I saw very few give up just because of knee and ankle pain.

Try Kneeling on a Pedestal
I paddle in a kneeling position on a pedestal all day long. On my trip last summer, I would stay in the boat for 6+ hours if there were no portages. What is special about a pedestal is that most of your weight is on the pedestal not your knees. If you paddle using a kneeling thwart or kneel against low seat, you are probably putting more 30-40% of your weight on your knees: much less comfortable. If you have not paddled recently, there is some discomfort in kneeling. If you paddle a couple times a week, your ligaments etc. should not bother you. Just don’t try to just jump up when you want to get out of the boat. It takes a moment for your legs to assume a much straighter position.

You can make a pedestal for nearly nothing with 4 18" long and 8" wide 2" syrafoam insulation scraps and a 1" pad of minicell on the top and bottom of the stack. You can use some ethafoam (white squishy packing foam) if you can find some leftover from a shipping container. You can assemble the 8" wide stack with just duct tape. Bevel the top edges so your inner thigh don’t hang over a sharp edge.

Knees not the problem
As I described above, for some of us the pressure on the knees is not the problem. The problem is the agonizing stretching of the front of the ankle due to the inability to attain a relaxed foot position. A pedestal does not help with this problem, as the foot position is unaffected by whether the weight is on the knees or rear end. I suspect from Boo’s description that this is her problem.

here’s what I do…
I like to kneel in my canoe too. I have a Bell Magic with a 1/2 minicell foam kneeling pad glued in place. My kneeling thwart gives me as much clearance for my feet as possible-I custom made it. I too have probelms with my ankles hurting and my knees get stiff. I try to stretch regularly and will sit on the kneeling thwart for few minutes and alternate stretching out my legs. Good luck with your dilema. I’ve been okay for up to 12+ hours of paddling using this stategy of kneeling and stretching.

"tops of feet flat on the bottom"
If you can put the tops of your feet flat on the bottom, you do not have the problem I am describing.

I kneel
and can and often spend 8-10 hrs. in my boat without getting out. As stated, kneeling is easier on the back. Every two hrs. or so I will strech one leg at a time or just sit for a while. That’s what so cool about canoes, you can move around. When I eat lunch I will sit on the floor and use the seat as a back rest, very stable and relaxing. Most of the time most of the weight is on my knees and butt on the seat edge, but I often will slide back on my seat and sit on it in a kneeling position but with no weight on my knees.

As far as the ankles go, that may have alot to do with your footwear. If I go bare foot, river shoes, or mukluks I have no problems, but if I wear sneakers or the such I get sore ankles. I often use a large pad that extends back beyond my feet which also adds to foot comfort.