Leg circulation problems, need seat help

After only about 5 minutes of sitting in my boat, my feet and legs begin to tingle and will eventually go numb.

This is my first sea kayak and I have very limited knowledge on outfitting and seating.

I added a seat pad, and some foam on the sides by my knees.

Here are 2 pics of my seat.



You will probably have to copy/paste the links.

Oh, and I don’t want to hear any shit about my cup holder either!! LOL! It was a last minute thing, it got the job done.

Aside from the circulation issue, Im really not uncomfortable, the sides are nice and snug, I can brace just fine. I figure I might need a little more leg support, but I’m guessing on that one.

When I clicked on both sites,
All I got was “page not found”

Also if you are looking for assistance, why the “I don’t want any shit about my cup holder”.

You might get some friendly advice, but not that way

jack L

Loose the cup holder as it will not do you any good when your using a skirt. You may want to try a Seal Line thigh cushion.

Copy and paste, Jack
And get a sense of humor :wink:

Interesting cup holder, though, but it may have to go.

There was a good article
In California Kayaker in the past year about this. I followed the advice and started using a blown up Seattle Sports paddle float to elevate my thighs and knees. Works better all the way around.

Listen to Jack
He’s our official etiquette advisor and human relations expert. Really.

cup holder should stay
cup holder should stay, to be used as a commode :slight_smile:

Seriously, seats are such a personal thing that works for one paddler often does not for somebody else.

However, a short seat (like those in the image) often suits less people than one with a longer pan which offers thigh support. A sharp rise up front also would cause localized leg compression and often prevents blood flow resulting in numb legs.

It seems that people with thicker legs that need to fit them under the coaming of the cockpit lament that problem more often than paddlers with skinny legs where they have room to bend the legs and alleviate the pressure in front of the peaked seat.

I have removed and replaced many kayak seats since most coamings/seat combos don’t suit my body shape.

Details here: http://gnarlydognews.blogspot.com/2011/04/shop-replacing-seat-in-tahe-marine.html

and here: http://gnarlydognews.blogspot.com/2010/01/shop-replacing-valley-seat.html

Leg support
As mentioned above, support under your legs/thighs behind the knee will probably help. A paddle float is an excellent way to achieve that. What you want to achieve is to relieve pressure on your sciatic nerve and/or to relieve stress on your leg from keeping it elevated for longer periods. Other considerations are foot pegs and heel pressure. Foot pegs that do not distribute pressure can cause problems. If your heels are sensitive to pressure (mine are), foam on the bottom of the cockpit can help (use mouse pads).

Thanks for the help.

– Last Updated: Oct-02-11 10:30 PM EST –

Thanks for the advice, I'm ordered a surf to summit hot seat pad, and will work off of that to get things squared away. Since this post I did some reading and with the info gleaned from both I am pretty sure I have a pretty good bead on the issue.

Jack, copy and paste the links, don't click and the pics will show, and You will understand the cup holder comment.

shiraz627 I already use a spray skirt, an IR Excursion skirt, I just pop it loose, the cool thing about it is, that ugly ass cup holder is snug enough that if I roll the boat, my sports bottle stays in it, so my rum and coke doesn't go wandering around the cockpit.

Touch your toes
Start doing hamsting stretches before paddling and twice a day and you’ll have less numbness.

A lot of what is happening is your too tight hamstrings are pinching the nerve because you don’t sit with your legs straight out enough. So hamstring stretching will help a lot as will a comfy seat.

The best way to cure this is to give up your day job and just go paddling every day for a year. I think that will stretch out the legs just fine.

I second the Sealine Thigh cushion
i dont paddle without it - plus the seat might be adjusted to high cutting off circulation - mine was.

I also use 2 Seattle Sports Bilge Buddies for under my feet. They are small round sponges - my hubby uses them too as we tend to prefer to paddle barefoot and these cushion our heels wonderfully.

My 2 cents
I had the same issue and tried the under thigh pad still didn’t work. I removed my seat and replaced it with a pad straight on the bottom of my boat. This gave me more leg room. I also looked up yoga poses and stretches for Kayakers and started to stretch more. To be honest the best thing was when my kids were in school and I got back to the point where I could paddle once or twice a week. Being in the boat combine with my modifications did the trick for me. If you want a SeaLine thigh brace I’ll sell you mine cheap, I don’t need it anymore.

hamstring stretches NM

ThermaRest 3/4 Classic…
…camping pad is the basis of the seating in the VOLKSKAYAKs I build and paddle. Very, very comfortable, no leg problems even after multi-hour stretches in the boat. While it may not serve your needs, some parts of the idea might help.


With eight kids , I had to rule
with an old ping pong paddle.

  • Amazing they all still love me too

    Jack L

two directions to address this. One is conditioning but I bet that’s only 25% of the problem with the rest being the seat.

Three paths on the seat mods.

  1. Remove ALL the stuff on the seat including the stock seat cushion held in with plastic tabs or adhesive. Rip it all out then build it up to fit YOUR backside. This can be done by sitting in the seat and feeling around your sit bones in about a 4" radius from each. There are areas where the fat and muscle of your butt aren’t being supported allowing your sit bones to crush down on the sciatic nerve. It’s the support immediately around your sit bones that matters, not under the front of the seat where your thighs are because the weight of your torso is much greater and that’s what is pinching down on the nerve.

    How you build up the seat with minicell can vary from putting down successive layers of 1/4" minicell with donut hole cut outs for the sit bones or laying down one big 3/4" thick piece then carving it down. The thing to be aware of is that some support my be outside the seat by the back corners or you just need thin wedges in a few spots.

  2. Remove ALL the stuff on the seat and replace it with one or two (side by side, not one on the other) Thermarest Sport seats velcroed down. This will probably be the easiest and provide some adequate relief. The trick is to less all the air out until your sit bones are barely touching. It’s important to have it velcroed down well as it’ll tear out easily in a wet exit.

  3. remove the factory seat completely and replace with carved minicell seat. Personally I think that’s the best option. Only problem is that the seat might be glued down with some kind of cyanoacrylate adhesive so it would be a messy removal. Not sure the technique but you’d need to be careful to not damage the hull/seat. I’m assuming you have a thermoformed boat? Carving your seat is a whole other dialog but it’s all available info. Or you could by a pre-carved seat from Joe Greenely/ada Redfish kayaks.

my 2c
I’ll add to the consensus - seats are very personal.

As you noticed, people are really forthcoming to solutions, but I would encourage to figure out first what the problem is.

Legs falling asleep can be due to circulation being cut off, or nerve pinching ( i think). Both could be due to bad fit ( hence all the suggestions regarding lifting this and lowering that), bad physiology - this is where stretches come in, etc.

Physiology - takes quite a while, stretches and yoga will help.

Fit - I find that some anatomically correct seat pans cut into my lower thighs, which is quite irritating. If my legs were resting on the seat pan, I could see a lot of painful consequences.

When teaching and doing tours I find that folks who move their foot pedals too close get a lot of tension/pressure in their but and legs - leads to legs falling asleep.

I also noticed that active paddling - that is pumping legs and moving in the seat help with discomfort

Hope this helps

Seat pad.
Well sticking the thick seat pad on the already rather high sitting stock seat (even with the stock padding stripped off) made me feel like I was sitting on top of the boat, not in it. So I pulled the stock seat completely out and stuck the pad directly on the bottom of the boat.

I think Im on to something.

Let us know
What seems to work best for you. My feet sometimes go numb.

link to article in California Kayaker
All issues of California Kayaker Magazine can be read online for free by going to http://www.calkayakermag.com/magazine.html. The article in question is in the Winter 2010 issue. You may also want to read the article in Spring 2011 issue on footbeds, as that may also help.