Lower Back Pain

I just bought my first kayak about a month ago and have been out several times. Now it appears to be aggrevating my lower back and I am having some pain afterwards, any suggestions? I have a Perception Pescador and I love it.

Instant relief
Wash down a percocet, some advil, alleve and tylenol with a pitcher of beer (check with your doc first).

Or you can stick pins through some ginger root and stick them into your back…I’ve heard that works.

Daily Exercises
I do daily exercises to help my back and after I paddle I often do the Elain Petrone method stretching. It has really helped me over the years. YOu can email me if you want more info.

back pain
Tight hamstrings can cause lower back pain in the kayak sitting position. Regular stretching can make a big difference.

Do you sit up straight when you paddle, or lean back?

Are you using any kind of seat pad, backrest, or back band? There are lots of options for customizing a kayak. In addition to the commercial products, Minicel closed-cell foam can be glued on with contact cement to add support where needed.

I like the way you think.

Sounds like a good approach.
Also important to try to identify the nature of the lower back pain… muscular, facet pain, etc. Pain caused by a disk squeezing a nerve may of course manifest itself elsewhere than in the lower back itself.

I suffer from lumbar issues and use
one of these in my kayak.


Thigh support
Thigh support, I used some foam I cut to fit under my thigh. My hip and back would hurt at times. This fixed it.

have you spent much time in canoes?
I have back issues too and that is one reason why I’ve never been able to find a kayak that I’m really comfortable in for long periods of time. IMHO, canoes are much more comfortable for people prone to back trouble.

Sitting up off the floor is one thing, but even more important is the ability to move around and change positions throughout the course of the day. I’ll paddle a while seated with my legs straight out in front, then a while longer with my legs crossed and tucked up under me, then one leg out one in, then kneeling on my knees. I’ve got a series of stretching exercises I can do from a kneeling or seated position while continuing to paddle enough to keep up with the group. And sometimes it helps to take a break and get out of the boat to piddle around on land.

Because of my long-standing back problems, I make it a point never to endure any amount of discomfort in the canoe, as there’s always something I can do to make it feel better. Thus, paddling is never a strain on my back but instead is usually therapy.

Some of this may be possible in a kayak - I don’t know, I’ve never tried it - but I can’t imagine any kayak ever being as back friendly as my canoe is.

I too canoe
and find that changing positions helps greatly. I keep my kayak trips short, 5 miles or less and stop and “piddle” often. Daily sessions with a Precor Stretch Trainer machine at the local YMCA have nearly ended my pain (unless there is something on the Honey Do List.

Serious Liver Damage —
Funny but don’t try it .

More Info
It’s not really possible to diagnose what is going on with very little information. Do you have issues with your back in other activities, or known structural problems? If not your discomfort may be because you are using muscles you don’t normally use. It’s a good idea to stretch before and after kayaking and if you are clear by your doctor, learn to do stretching exercises for your back muscles. Also helps to join a gym and work on weight machines to strengthen your back, abs and torso muscles.

Lots of people find that kayaking actually helps their back by strengthening their core muscles … lots of people do give up before the get some benefit. If you do it right you improve your posture and your muscles that support your spine.


– Last Updated: Sep-09-09 8:34 AM EST –

Thanks to all who responded to my lower back pain question, I have experienced low back pain in the past and I think maybe the kayaking has just irritated it a bit but the suggestions given will be a big help! I wont give up on kayaking I absolutely love it!! So I will use your suggestions to see if I can minimize the problem.

Also have to agree with Memphis
which is why I have a kayak AND a canoe…I can kneel all day in a canoe, not to mention switch around if do get uncomfortable. I’m good for about 3 hrs max in my kayak, which is seeing more time under the house these days. Well I do use it a lot in the winter, and on lakes. Each boat has its purpose.


I had 3 Perceptions and had to
mess with the outfitting until I finally got it right. Small adjustments made a big difference.

Adjust Seat?
I’m a newbie, but do you think you have your seat set in a position that’s comfortable for your back, perhaps you’re leaning too far back or fowards, along with the correct positions for foot pegs?


back pain
Oftentimes back pain results from too weak abdominal muscles, right? Work some gentle crunches into your exercise routine. Avoid back extension exercises which often do more harm than good.

Get rid of your kayak backband that you use for support - support is really just another word for crutch. Without it, you’ll be forced to actually use your abdominal muscles for positional control and you’ll use better posture from the get-go.

Good advice. Fore-aft lean is very
important in whitewater boats, and often important in other kayaks.

I ripped the backband out of an old Dagger Animas, mainly for a safer and easier exit. It wasn’t hard to sit up without the band, and when I needed a rest, I just lay back for a bit on the padded rear wall.

My lower back is an arthritic disaster
and kayaking never made it worse. As already mentioned, the lack of movement was excruciating.I now have a couple of solo canoes.

agree totally with Seadart
I have/had back problems since july 3 1961 when I had a bad fall. The problem was chronic but normally not debilitating. Occasionally it was incapacitating though… I took up CANOE paddling and have found that I have less frequent periods of pain, and then often I can pinpoint just the cause(running around with grand nieces on shoulders, clean and jerk lifting etc.) I have not been able to spend any time in kayaks because the angle of my legs etc cause me problems immediately. I suspect if I could sit in a kayak it would also have built up my core muscles to alleviaate my back problems. Personally I would suggest you get a solo canoe and double blade it while lowering the seat over a course of several months Then try a kayak