Lower Back

I don’t take out my recreational kayak very often, but when I do, I find my back gets uncomfortable (pain) within an hour. I feel like I am always leaning back. I have a fixed (molded) seat. I contacted the manufacturer (Emotion) and they said custom seats are not available for my model.

I thought about making a midback support board to be able to give my back some support.

Any similar experiences or suggestions?

Stan of Silver Spring.

Just the opposite!
I have an Emotion Glide that I love and the back rest works perfectly for me. It IS adjustable front to back to some degree, in case you haven’t tried that, to obtain best seat angle for posture and performance. The back is also removable, I think, in case you wanted to replace it with a back band to your liking. Plus you can always use the proper foams to augment it in various places.

So, for me with long term lumbar problems, I find that this is one sport and one time when my back actually does NOT ache, either in the boat or afterwards. In fact, for my body it helps to reinforce better posture.

YMMV, of course…

Stroke first

– Last Updated: Oct-19-11 4:05 PM EST –

You should be sitting erect and rotating your torso to paddle. Arm paddling, which sacrifices rotation, tends to increase leaning back. Start with improving your stroke, then deal with the seat. Your joints will eventually thank you.

some torso exercises might help also
Once i’m kayaking regularly I don’t have to do them. But off-season I have to work on my core. Even Dr. Cox’s exercises for the back work well.

I second that but
its hard to stay upright sometimes without any lumbar support. Before yanking the seat out, jam a neck pillow or something in the lumbar area to provide some support.

Backs are not all alike, but I get excruciating pain when leaning back too.

X’s two !
I find that ninty percent of the time unless I am lilly dipping, my back is never even touching the back of the seat.

Jack L

Trash the seat
You can have a marine grade bean bag cushion made that will lay on the hull and use anything (I use the throwable flotation type cushion) for a backrest. This setup allows you to move your butt back and forward to change the angle and support of your back. Not sexy but very comfortable. Also you have two flotation devices on board that double as cushions/pillows on shore.

Here’s your clue:
“I don’t take out my recreational kayak very often”

Any time you suddenly do a sport with no prep, your body can find ways to protest the new load on it.

Exercises for your torso (front, back, and sides) will help, over time.

If you are leaning back, you aren’t using good posture for paddling. Best to sit upright or slightly forward. In other words, don’t depend on something to hold your back up.

As Celia said, learning proper forward stroke is also important. Both for better speed and to avoid pain/injury.

With winter coming, you can take advantage of a gym for the torso exercises while you wait out any solid water.

Those advocating posture have hit the
nail on the head for one main reason for back pain.

I have seen too many folks complain about back pain while slouched down in their seat as if they were sitting in a recliner.

Along with posture, it makes sense to have strong abdomen muscles also.

May you find your comfort zone.

The angle of the seat can have an effect
too. Some are canted to the rear so sharply they throw you back… Others have a more moderate slope between front and rear.

Yes you should do situps and have strong abs to sit upright. But your seat can work against you.

Do 100 situps immediately
before getting into the kayak.

Let us know how that works.

I can do about 4 sit ups
but then I cannot walk very well the next day. I notice that a seat that fits a similar size friend well just kills me in 20 minutes because it is tilted back so that the knees are higher than the hips and the bottom is at the same height as the feet.

I apparently have developed good hamstring flexibility, but my lower back really needs to be straight or titled forward. Seat that tilt back really aggravate the area where I had herniated disks in the past. So now I am paying for sitting in a friends sit inside kayak.

Each person will need a different seat for long term comfort. We are not made to have our lower bodies locked into one position for a long time, we are best designed for walking.

I will say that exercise, especially Tai Chi or other gentle stretching daily helps my comfort more than most other things.

Stretch your hamstrings or get a canoe
Can you touch your toes?

I can not and stretching has not helped.

The tight hamstings made my back feel much as you described.

I sold my kayak and only kneel in canoes now.

My back is so happy. Lucky for me I have good knees!

Yes, that’s why
I told the OP that the Emotion seats can be angled. It’s a simple process using the bungee that holds in the seat back. He may not have tried this adjustment.

canoes are wonderful for comfort
But I can’t kneel for hours at a time, even with a foam pad and fast canoes made for rough water are rare.

I have no trouble touching my toes and most days can put my palms right on the floor, but canoes are stillway more comfy!

Not adjustable…
Some Emotion kayaks seats are adjustable. Unfortunately, my is fixed plastic (no straps).

Seat is fixed, no straps
Seat is not adjustable, back is plastic like the kayak body. I’ve had similar problem when sitting on the floor for a short period of time (yoga). In yoga I used a cushion to elevate my hips.



You described it better.
You described the problem better than I did.

I am guessing that exercise will help. I play alot of tennis, and the torgue from rotating my upper body for forehands actually give me the same pain. It may be related to stiffness. To counter that, I usually do some yoga postures to flex the low back and that helps. Of course, that is AFTER tennis, paddling.

I took a Tai Chi Course a few years ago and was surprised I like the class. I haven’t been able to find a similar instructor that I liked.

Sorry about that
You can still make some modifications, either by building it up with closed cell foam (standard stuff for kayak outfitting), or if you’re really brave, by cutting it down and replacing what you want.

BTW, I found that elevating and supporting my calves and thighs helped a great deal with posture and the results on my body, back and legs. I use a fully inflated double chambered paddle float. Then if I fall out, I’ve already got that inflated for paddle rescue - a nice side benefit that I hope never to have to use…

Yep, same problem and I’m great shape
and very flexable. I got a flotation cusion and tied it to the seatback…solved the back pain problem. I can sit in it for hours now. I also got in the habit of keeping my but against the cusion by pushing hard on the footpegs. I vary the arch in the lower back and do a few pelvic lifts now and then.