Lower back pain from plastic seat

-- Last Updated: Jul-10-12 2:28 PM EST --

Some of you might remember that recently I purchased a Nigel Foster Legend. I've been taking it out a lot recently and for longer periods of time and have noticed that it becomes unbearable to sit in after about 40 minutes of paddling. The back of the hard plastic seat in the Legend is angled forward a little bit from the bottom and it grinds into my lower back. This is very unpleasant. I have a little gel seat pad that lifts me a little bit in the seat, but the extra height doesn't seem to be helping either. The back rest is just a piece of foam which seems to be fine, but that top portion of the back of the seat is extremely uncomfortable.

Can anyone recommend a good solution or have any experience with a problem like this? I thought about buying a full seat Yakpad, but they don't seem to have support where the seat and back foam connect and that lower area of the back is the problem area. I'm thinking about maybe buying some adhesive neoprene in 1/4" and cut it to length to cover the back foam piece all that way down to the seat so it covers that seat to foam pad region. Any thoughts?


Here is a picture of what I'm dealing with:

As you can see the back of the seat starts curving slightly forward and that's the part that likes to cut into my lower back.

Have you seen this?

You likely can install a regular back band too.

make your own
Just take it out and carve a new minicell seat. You can get the foam on line, then just use a wire brush like you would use in a drill - but use vise grips instead- and form your own.

Just cut it off. Seems like you could dremmel it off where it sticks into you.

Ryan L.

Permanent Changes
I’m not really wanting to make any permanent changes to it or anything that can’t be easily changed in case I go to resale it later on. I thought about cutting it, but it might makes the seat even worse so I’m kind of hesitant to give that a try.

not quite seeing it
The seat looks to be the same fiberglass seat design that I have in my Seaward Legend, and I’m pretty sure what the problem is.

Looking at the picture, I do not see where the back of the seat curves forward at all in relation to how you should be sitting. It looks just like mine. Unless…

You describe that foam block as a seat back. That bulkhead slants backwards much further than the angle of your back should be while paddling. So does the foam block. You are paddling in a reclined position. In a normal paddling posture, you have no back rest at all in that picture. Therefore, in relation to the angle of your reclined back, the seat back actually is curving up into your lower back.

But, should you buy a simple Immersion Research or Snapdragon backband or the like, install it so that your backrest keeps you in a more proper paddling position, not only does your comfort improve, your whole game improves.

I just went out with a ruler, and from the front of the coaming (the bulkhead sits a little further behind that) to the front of my backrest is 4". And I have mine placed so that my back isn’t always forced to be up against it. I have little doubt that you’re simply paddling in a reclined position, and your seat is designed for you to sit more properly upright.

I think you’re right not to mess with the seat. I very much prefer the slick fiberglass seats. Build up the foam behind you or go for a backband. Since you likely are using the back support as you paddle, I think a backband will give you better comfort, and much easier adjustment while you figure out where you need to be.

Looking at things again, does what I’m typing make sense?

Relaxed paddling
As far as I know I sit upright when I paddle and I do sit all the way back in that seat. While paddling I don’t even touch the foam back piece just the back edge of the seat and that is what digs into my back. Paddling with the gel seat seems to help a little bit by lifting my back end a little higher so the back edge of my seat doesn’t grind against my lower back as much, but it still rubs a little after a while. I’m wondering if a strip of adhesive neoprene along the back edge of my seat would help?

Do you think removing the foam block and installing a back band would be a pretty easy fix? I assume the back band straps have attachment points so I can just use the bolt holes that my seat uses on the side?

yes, easy fix
I just took a look, and there is a third hole drilled on each side to attach the ends of an Immersion Research backband on mine. 2 cleanly drilled holes with a backband attached, and it will look like it belongs there and could have been there when it was new. The most difficult part will be figuring where you need to drill the holes, but that’s not that difficult, so no need to stress over it. You should have plenty of room for adjustment lengthwise, so just pick a spot that will be solid to attach to. Then going straight back, the backband should sit above the top of your seat, and below the coaming on the kayak. Looking from above, mine is adjusted so that it rests in front of the bottom seat back. I sit all the way back in the seat, and sitting completely upright, if I begin to relax and slouch and allow my lower back to begin to curve, the backband catches it. This allows me to relax a little without slouching too far. But if I’m upright, leaning slightly forward, really going, I’m not in contact, and I’m free to rotate. I think in your setup without support, it’s allowing you to lean back and slouch too far, which is probably bad in all sorts of ways, but would take little to lead to the discomfort you’re describing.

I definitely recommend giving it a try. I think it should solve your problem, and be good for your posture, back, and overall comfort.

If I’m just not seeing it in the picture, or if your lower back doesn’t somewhat follow the normal curve, maybe you need special accomodation. But you would likely already be aware of that.

Rip it out and sit on a cushion