Lower back issues/Legs numb

Greetings Paddlers,I have been Paddling for about twentyfive years,Twenty years Canoe,the last five Kayak.I recently started having an issue with my left butt thigh area getting cramps,after about an hour or so of paddling.Would a good lumbar pillow support cure this?My Boat is a wilderness systems Pungo 120,the seat is really comfortable,and has lots of adjustment.I have tried everything except for the Pillow support.any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Get back in a canoe.

Follow a thorough stretching program
off the water. Canoeing won’t help, String notwithstanding.

I’ve been feeling tingling along the outside of my left thigh, above the knee, but not while kneeling to canoe, cutting grass, etc. Only feel it when I lie supine in bed. That (to me) indicates that the nerve and associated structures are somewhat tight. Can’t rule out disk impingement, but never have any other signs in any other activity except lying on my back in bed. That is a position where constant, static stretch occurs.

Get things stretched out in all directions, and then see if you still have the problem.

what g2d said
Also, if you’re carrying any extra weight, especially around your midsection, try to shed it (I know this gets you into a catch-22).

Look for “Dr. Cox exercises” for the lower back. They apply g2d’s advice specifically to your problem. They’ve been a help to me whenever I do them regularly, which is only 5 or 10 minutes a day.

Ans stay hydrated
If I am out sweating for an hour, I start to cramp up roo. Keep drinking water.


What’s changed?
Have you been paddling the same kayak for 5 years and just recently started having problems? Think about what’s changed recently.

You say your seat has lots of adjustment; look at the adjustment points. Has something broken, stretched, etc. Seatbacks tend to slip.

Have you done anything with the footpegs?

New PFD or shoes? These can affect the way you sit.

Gained or lost weight? Changed diet, medication, chiropracters?

New paddle or other gear?

Hydration really affects you. When I misplace my Camelbak I drink less on the water and have more issues with cramps, sciatica, etc.

If the weather has gotten hotter, you sweat more. Are you upping your fluid intake to compensate?

Have you changed the way you sleep? Funny how little changes affect you more as you get older.

Good luck figuring it out. I can certainly empathize.

3 things if you insist on kayak
I’m kinda surprised to hear some say that a canoe wouldn’t be better. I know of several cases of people who have similar problems in kayaks but not canoes, and I am one of them. The reasons seem pretty clear, too – sitting up higher, the ability to move around and change position while paddling, and even to do some helpful stretching while still in the seat and on the go. I have little doubt you’d do better physically in a canoe.

However, you presumably have your reasons why you prefer kayaking, and it should be possible for you to conquer those problems in a kayak. Numbness is usually caused by cut-off of circulation, so anything you can do to reposition your body MIGHT solve the problem. So, yes, definitely try the cushion you mention, as well as others.

Second, definitely exercise and stretch before your trips to loosen up. Even more important, take breaks during the trip to stretch and wiggle your hips. 30-60 seconds once an hour should be enough, but pay attention to how you feel and customize it to your case.

Third, longer term, build up your leg muscles to prevent the compression. Stronger muscles surrounding the blood vessels will help keep them from getting compressed.

^great checklist of questions!^
Tough to keep in mind when one is in pain, but this is a great list to keep in mind.

I have known long-time open boaters who had to go to a kayak because of knee problems, and long-time kayakers who took up open boats because of back and hip issues.

There are a lot of different potential causes for buttock discomfort associated with leg numbness, but one is certainly pressure placed on the sciatic nerve by your seat. You might try glueing in a thin pad.

When was the last time you read a post about children getting cramps, numb legs etc. The unfortunate truth is that our sedentary life styles start to creep up on us and emerge when we do a challenging position or exercise. Taking Yoga has helped me enormously.

I’d try a canoe for awhile.
Right, I’m with String on this one, as a raise in seat

height also puts a different angle into the seating.

You can also add a back rest for effect.

No matter what, see a doc.

Cramped Buttocks!!!
Hello All who responeded I really appreciate the Input.I am also and avid Cyclist,road and Mountain,I also fly fish and spin fish from the Kayak.I did just built a Hardtail Mountainbike,Steel of course,and have been riding it alot here local around The Piedmont,and foothils of NC.I also have been Neglecting stretching before I go Paddling,Not very smart Indeed.Thanks alot for the input.I will try some streching prior to Saturdays Paddle,and add a lumbar cusion too.I Will post next week after the weekend of Paddle/Mountainbike.Pisgah National Forest!!!

A short explanation. Leg position
is critical to my lower back comfort.I can sit for hours with no back support in my Voyager.I can sit for a long time in the Rapidfire, which has a lower seat than the Voyager. The Tarpon takes the discomfort up a notch because my butt is level with my feet ,but I can move around and stretch in the boat.

I sold my SINK. It was killing me.

The correlation is leg to torso angle apparently.

But I don’t stretch much either.

I would try to use a cushion (or paddlefloat?) somewhere under your thigh to knee area. Once you find the right spot, consider putting in permanent minicell padding there.

Tight hamstrings?
Try some stretching exercises to see if the left leg is tighter than the right. More than 20 yrs ago I bought a chart of cycling stretches by Bob Anderson that actually are pretty good general stretches. Made a big diff in how I felt the next day if I stretched after a ride (as well as before, but the “after” seemed to make a bigger difference).

Or check out the book “Sleeping Bag Yoga,” available from Sea Kayaker Magazine.

Also make sure you don’t have a lump on/under the seat. If there’s a high point, that could be causing the numbness.

Bad Back
Check out a Hobie kayak with a mirage drive. You paddle and when your back gets stiff switch to peddling. Works for me except I don’t use the paddle much anymore.

tried everything
I think it is likely that your hamstrings are tight. You didn’t mention what type of stretching you have tried, but I’d work some more on that. I expect that the problem may be more with you than with the seat, because you mentioned your paddled this boat for 5 years without this problem in the past.

So I do more stretching first and fiddle with the seat second.

sit and switch canoe
I have a bad back and I have found that in a canoe sitting, paddling sit and switch(Minnesota Hut/ North america touring /Marathon racing style) that I can stay in the rear seat comfortably 8-12 hours. In the front seat I have to tuck a leg occasionally after half an hour or so. On a long paddle (15-70 miles in one day I sometimes have to kneel just to stretch out the back, then go back to sitting. So I suspect that a nice Solo canoe where you can spread your legs and are up 7-9 inches higher then the deck should help.