Medical problem

I need help on continuing kayaking with a medical problem that I have developed. I love kayaking and go whenever I can. I can get into the boat and paddle with no problems. If the paddling lasts over a couple hours, my legs are almost helpless and I need help getting out of the kayak. This restricts my paddling trips to those made with other paddlers.

Any suggestions?

legs hurting
I just read an article about how this is a common problem that doesn’t get discussed much. The article suggested making certain your legs aren’t kept straight but rather that you maintain a bent knee. It also suggested periodically putting your hands on both sides of the cockpit (this assumes you aren’t in a SOT) and raising yourself up off the seat to get the blood circulating.

While I don’t have that problem, I do get “kayak butt” after a short time–sciatica-like pain on the right side. Getting out and stretching now and then if possible helps a lot. I also recently purchased a “Squoosh” kayak cushion and that has helped immensely. These are made similar to those for wheelchair-bound people, it molds to your body and may help keep your circulation going to your legs.

Good luck with this and I hope someone who has your same leg problem sees your post and responds with help specifically for that!

It is normal to get cramped after awhile. Padding under your thighs can help reduce weight on the nerves. Or try paddle float under your thighs.

Squoosh cushion

– Last Updated: Oct-08-04 9:54 AM EST –

Where can I get one please.

Whoops, spelled wrong
That’s “Skwoosh” and they can be bought at I got mine about 2 months ago–it had to be backordered but was here within 10 days despite that. It’s a nice cushion! I use it in the kayak and my husband uses it when we go canoeing. It’s not thick, so it doesn’t raise your center of balance much.

Cramped legs
I’m 6’1 and 225lbs and also get cramped legs…I always try to maintain them like the other person mentioned, at a bent/angle. I move them around and every now and them, raise one then the other to my chest to stretch them when I stop paddling…good luck…I’m assuming you have a sit in kayak, perhaps try a sit on top…the mobility allows for your legs to relax and move…I have both yaks so its a huge difference.


Pegs too far back?
When I did my first race in rough conditions I decided to put my foot pegs back one notch so I would have firmer contact with the kayak. This actually bent my legs more. My legs fell to sleep and I collapsed when getting out of the boat 3 hours later. I had removed the rudder so the pegs were fixed.

I now paddle with my pegs further forward so my legs have more freedom of movement. I need to stretch my feet out for my thighs to make firm contact with the deck. Futhermore, I now use a rudder full time so my legs are always working back and forth a little bit. My legs never fall asleep.

I have also been doing some trials on a new kayak design that has a centered foot pedestal with tiller bar steering. This set up allows the legs to be flexed with each stroke to increase body rotation. This type of set up increases power and causes dramatically increased leg circulation. However, it is not for everybody because there is little leg contact with the deck. Actually it is much like a sit-on-top.

The point is, having ones legs bent too much can cause problems just as lying them too flat can. Having the legs in a relaxed bend seems to be the best situation. Then use minicell foam pads under the deck to achieve the level of leg contact one prefers. Try looser for increased circulation. Maybe carry an extra piece of minicell foam to temporarily make firmer contact if the coditions get rougher.

This idea will probably not go over too well with the narrow minded. But, maybe you should also consider a kayak that is designed for use with a full-time rudder. Controlling the rudder will improve the circulation in your legs. It also allows you to alternate stretching of each leg.

Anyone try those? They’re gel filled as opposed to the Skwoosh, which seems to be air filled. Both seem pricey but if it works, it’s worth it.

I think I am King
of aching legs, numbness, throbbing and sometimes legs actually quivering from the pain I get after a very short period of time. Currently my belief is it depends how often I am paddling, the current condition of my back as the pain comes and goes when out of the kayak, I think I have found that by relaxing my legs outward not necessarily straight has helped rather than tightly tucked up under the combing for a snugger fit, I think this raised me so that additional pressure was placed on my pelvic bones and the nerves running down the leg. You might think about your backband or backrest for pressure points being created on your lower back. The standard answer on the internet and this page is to place a paddle float or other paddling underneath the thighs, I’ll be damned if I can figure out how this works or is suppose to. Padding can’t hurt especially if you and your boat can afford the higher center of gravity. Wiggling the feet and toes, change legs positions and definately raising yourself out of the set helps to get the blood flowing again. I also have had some luck by loosening the back band of which allows me to slide further into the seat and creating more surface to rest my big surfaced backside.

Your condition is quite common and somewhat normal its just a matter of finding away around it and adjusting to the discomfort as needed.


Leg Problems
Thank you all for the help. I’m taking all the advice very seriously and will follow up on it.

Question I had from
your original post was if you were aware this is developing when you are out there, or do you generally feel fine and only find out when you try to get out of the boat?

I think most of the remedies here assume that you can feel the problem developing, and can do things while underway to help the situation.

Mike (and no, I am not a doctor, but I do get occasional leg/hip aches while kayaking)

Full time rudder?
I am not clear by what you mean by that. It seems that you are suggesting to alternately push your feet against the foot pegs with every single stroke. Wouldn’t this necessarily move your rudder back and forth with every stroke making the rudder wag back and forth with EVERY stroke? That sounds pretty inefficient for going straight or am I missing something in your description?


A Sealine self inflating curved
thigh pillow may help too. They are pricy - about $40, but for me has helped a lot. It fits in the bottom of the kayak to support the legs where the seat ends. You inflate it to where it is comfortable. I get the sciatica-type pain too, more on one side than the other, but the pillow prolongs the time I can paddle without getting out to stretch.

Skwoosh not air-filled
No, I think air-filled cushions would not help as much as either gel or the Skwoosh material, which is not exactly a gel, but a composite material that forms to your body (kind of like those expensive Swedish bed pillows!). Better info can be found on their website. The important thing is that it is not air-filled, I would not recommend an inflatable cushion for this problem.

Skwoosh vs Yakpad
Does the Skwoosh being 1" thick raise your center of gravity very much? I just ordered a Yakpad because it is only 3/8" thick. It, however, says to wash it after each use which seems like a pain and the Skwoosh says it is maintenance free.

Only stretch when necessary
I did not mean stretching one’s legs with every stroke. Like you said that would be very inefficient.

I spent 6 to 6.5 hours in my boat yesterday. I was comfortable in the boat and comfortable when I got out. I feel certain it was because of the Phase 3 thigh support and the block of foam that I place under my ankles.

(No, I am in no way connected to Wilderness Systems.)

Not to be contrary , but a canoe
solved those problems for me.

Leg Problems
I had a very enjoyable paddle for two hours yesterday with my wife, my daughter, and a daughter-in-law. I was in a kayak for the first time that I bought from a guide. It’s a Dagger Cypress and has been discontinued. It performed well but the cockpit is too small for my little ten pound rat terrier. I tried putting her in the rear hatch but she didn’t like that and spent the two hour paddle on top lying against my back. I was a little uneasy that she may fall overboard when passing through an alligator area but she seemed to have no trouble. One of these’gators was huge. A fisherman told us it has been named Big John. I’ll surely go along with the “BIG”.

We had light rain on the return paddle but it wasn’t bad enough to soak us. I needed a little help getting out but it wasn’t as bad as the last trip. I spent some time adjusting the seat beforehand and used a roll of foam to help support the thighs. It must have helped some.


String, I just happen to have a fiberglass canoe. I need to replace the wooden gunwales because they have deteriorated. I’m trying to locate a source for the oak wood I need.