Muscle tension from a new kayak?

Just switched from a molded, mass market fishing kayak to a handmade touring kayak and wondering if the seating difference and shape of the seating area can cause muscle discomfort? Or did i just go overboard (excuse the metaphor) with my squat routine. :wink:

Having recently switching from a “molded” sitting structure of a Pelican fishing kayak to a custom built touring kayak with just a cut-out square piece of foam for a seat… is there a chance the tension I’m feeling today in the sides of my quads and even a wee bit of pull in my left calf is from a flat, block cushion seat? It’s not in anyway debilitating, but noticeable. Anyone experience that?

Could you post some photos of the seat?

Are you tense in the new boat? If you are a common response is to push on one side into the foot peg.
It could also be that your flexibility is such that having legs straight out is not a plan. Try rolling a towelvor something under your thighs in front of the seat. See if it makes a diff.

What type of foot braces and are they adjustable?

No not tense at all. And my fishing kayak has similar leg position braces so… I really think it’s the foam pad . LOL. Could be wrong but… more kayak will tell.

It might have to do with having to move your legs closer together. That, sometimes, forces you to keep your knees up in the air. That can cause stress to you hamstrings and sometimes into your calves and ankles.

Simplest thing is to roll up a towel and put it under your thighs. It might also help to remove the seat and sit on the floor of the boat.

After half a dozen trips your muscles should be adapting to this new configuration and be toning up for it. Then go back to the normal cockpit configuration and see what happens.

Every boat has a different learning curve and uses slightly different muscle groups.

I was told by the maker to put my legs in a diamond position, feet close together, and to brace my knees up against the padded side flaps molded into the the cockpit rim as a such a position aids in stability. I personally do not find that at all, and prefer legs straight and feet on the brace bar.

I agree with CraigF. You might just need more seat time in the boat. Many people find a new boat uncomfortable at first, but in many cases your body will soon accommodate itself. I’d do that before making any major modifications.

Oh I find it comfortable okay, just a few pulls and stresses in odd legs areas… but again that could be from exercising as well. But yeah… I’ve spent a lot re-doing this kayak in both time and money… certainly not going to spend more of the second one unless absolutely necessary. :grinning:

You are not alone. I personally cannot take the froggy leg position. Was my biggest issue with some of the Eddyline boats I tried earlier on. Do better with a bit straighter.

After that I also need very little rise for my thighs, less than most.

I’ve got a similar cockpit in my skin on frame kayak and I found I prefer to sit on half of an old 1/2" thick Ensolite backpacking sleeping pad (roughly 36" x 24") folded first in half and then one of the halves folded under again with that 3 layer area under my thighs and the single layer under my butt. I tend to change my position from legs straight out to frogged to keep from getting stiff. The Ensolite being a few inches wider than the boat’s beam means it is a curved paddling rather than the flat surface you are seated on and a little more forgiving. The thicker, squishier yoga or work out mats work for this too.

Also, that looks like a low profile hard chined boat. You may want to sit lower in it than that thick foam allows for more stability. You may be subconsciously tensing due to sitting a bit high in it. I found adding as little as 1" of extra padding on top of my doubled Ensolite dramatically changed the center of gravity and even caused me to capsize in moderate chop. Didn’t do that again!

Just looking at the pictures of what you called a “seat” made me hurt all over. I would suggest you look into a real seat designed with support in all the right places. Even then, it will probably take some time before your body adjusts to spending lots of time in it.

There are some really good seats available and in my opinion, one of the best is made by NC Kayaks. Also my opinion is that your legs should not be straight out on the floor of the boat.

Are the tops of your thighs not in any contact with the bottom of your deck? I would feel out of control if my legs weren’t able to ‘lock in’ to the boat.

In my case, l choose boats that are configured so l don’t have be fully frog legged to get to the thigh braces. Hence no Eddyline boats in my basement.

It is correct that you want ready contact w the thigh braces. But you don’t need to be fully locked in all time. It is an excellent way to get sore trying that for all the time in the boat.

You just need to be positioned so that it is a simple quick leg lift to get to them.


I was never comfortable sitting on the floor of a kayak after years of trying. I just went back to canoes.

I guess I have ‘kayaker legs’. I’m most comfortable knees-bent-and-in-contact and least comfortable when I’m not. I don’t know much about Greenland kayaks but I think the masik is all about being able to ‘lock in’ at will.

With Greenland style kayaks (and we don’t know what the OP’s whole boat looks like but I sense it tends in that direction) you do paddle with legs straight out. My SOF has a higher deck than most so I do have the option to “frog” but other than raising my knees to sometimes change position for comfort I only lift them to wedge against the foredeck skin to edge, brace or roll. Mine has a removable masik – with that place in the leg position can only be straight out.

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