Numb legs

I paddle a Arctic Hawk and my legs go numb. I’ve tried using a pad under my thigh and this seems to help for awhile but not really. Any suggestions?

angle of seat and sitting posture

– Last Updated: Oct-25-07 7:18 PM EST –

Sure ain't no physical therapist but when I hear "numb legs" I first think it may involve the angle of the thighs coming off the seat without sufficient support.

Never had this problem so can't speak from personal experience. Contributing factors might be your weight, your paddling posture, your forward stroke technique, and how your thighs meet the thigh braces, if thigh braces are there.

It's just too hard to say with certainty without
seeing how you fit in the Arctic Hawk and how you paddle. I would say get thee to a paddle shop w. thy kayak and let them check your cockpit outfitting.

If you want to try some solo detective work involving thigh support you can invest
in minicell foam of different thicknesses and degrees of firmness and try adhesing it temporarily so that it gently rises at the front lip of the seatpad and most definitely goes to the end of the seat. You can use a commercial grade Velcro which will hold up for a few test runs, even if you like to get wet.

If you find a winner then make the adhesion permanent with some DevCon Contact Cement (red label, and I like the gel version as it gives you more working time.)

Good luck! more people will jump in I'm sure and have more tips.

Pump your legs.
You use your whole body when you do a proper forward stroke, consequently blood flow isn’t restricted to your legs causing them to go numb.

A few
I have a herniated disk in my lower back. These tips work for me, (well, sometimes).

Stretch and warm up before you get in the kayak.

Sit up straight (don’t lean back or slouch) and make sure your lower back is supported.

Use an inflated thigh pad made specifically for kayakers. You can adjust the amount of air in it.

Take frequent stretch breaks when needed – get out of the kayak, move around, get the blood going.

A friend also suggested putting thin minicell foam pads under your calves (he glued his to the bottom of his kayak).

See your chiropractor or osteopath if pain continues to be a problem. My chiro helped me a lot.

Good luck.

I know the feeling…
I have heard its a combinaton of seat cushion, seat placement, thigh support, foot peg postion and even how you positon your legs. You have to experimant with all the variables until you find something that works. I had a QCC700 that I tried everything on, even a new seat to no availe. My final solution was I sold the boat. I have paddled quite a few boats before and after that and never ran into one that “hurt so much” to have fun with.

that’s what worked
I used to get terrible cramping and leg numbness until I started involving my whole body as described above. One thing I did add is a support under thighs and on long trips it really helps.

more ideas
I have the same problem in my skin boat. First, I installed a minicell tractor seat - that helped. I also use my paddle float (about 75% inflated) under my thighs - this helps a bit more, plus the float is ready all the time.

I’ve also added a footboard, bolted directly across the footpegs, this helps still more, as it allows me to move my feet around while paddling, not just be frozen on the pedals. The footboard also helps with hip pain caused by the continuous turn out required by footpegs, and allows you to paddle with your knees together, if your coaming will allow it.

It was a

advice from my Chiropractor
The advice about about supporting the thighs will help, but my chiropractor gave me REALLY helpful advice.

Start stretching your hamstrings. In a kayak sitting position your hamstrings will pinch a nerve in your legs if they are tight. The more stretching I do the longer I can sit in the boat.

better than numbnuts…

Thermarest 3/4 Camping Pad
That’s what we use in the VOLKSKAYAK - doubled under you, single up the back - allow it to fill, then sit in, just crack the valve open, and let air escape until you barely contact the hull. Close the valve. The air displaced forward by the buttocks forms a thigh pad. I can stay in the boat for four to five hours with absolutely no numbness or discomfort. Forgot it once - used an old Mustang PFD we had in the car - an hour later, had to be helped out of the kayak. The Thermarest works!!!

maybe it is time …
… to graduate to a canoe?

cheap seat…

My lower legs and feet go to sleep after about 20 minutes in my Elaho sport. I wanted to experiment and see if the seat was the problem. I found a couple of these in the garage, so I removed the seat and tossed in the kneelers (duct taped together for a real classy look). Not comfy after a few hours, but at least my feet didn’t go to sleep.

Seriously, I’m going to order a different seat soon…well, and backband…and thigh braces…and…if you give a mouse a cookie…

To the original poster…best of luck in your search for the cause. It seems like so many little things can be the difference between pain and comfort.


Are you on footpegs?

– Last Updated: Oct-26-07 8:41 AM EST –

Agree with the comment above to look at the footpeg situation. I find that a lot of things start acting up if I spend a lot of time sitting with feet on those darned things. I've paddled with bulkhead blocks for a long while now, and find that it just improves comfort and helps keep things more relaxed all the way up.

Above has lots of good suggestions above for the stuff that starts around your hips and in your hams, but if you are in footpegs you may want to see if it helps to paddle without them for a long while. If you find that improves the situation, you can go with the footboard (might be an art form to get it into that boat though), or carve some bulkhead blocks from minicell.

Here’s an article you may want to read

thanks celia
I’ve been suspecting that footpegs help cause the numbness; I have to shift my legs, pump them when paddling, or even cross them between the footpegs - something that’s quite comfortable in flat water.

I’ve been contemplating removing the footpegs and going to a foam footrest and I think you helped push me closer to that modification.

Something to do while the water is solid…

Thanks back!
One more comment if you are going to try this out - you don’t actually need to remove the footpegs and rails. You can just tuck the footpegs in front of the top layer or between them, depending on how you foot fits and angles in that space.

I found this out by accident after spending half an hour trying to get the first screw fully out on my Vela to remove the right rail and footpegs. I gave up and left the darned things in and just shifted the footpegs out of the way, and found that it wasn’t a problem.

Pad under the heel
Thy putting your heels on a pad.

It is difficult to determine your problem from the description but one of these recommendations should work.

On a trip last week one of the paddlers had this problem. He was using the foot braces but I’m not sure he was pumping his legs. After checking the pegs I mentioned this and add a foam pad under the heels and the problems disappeared.

Do you notice pain in the heels where they make contact with the kayak before it goes to sleep or becomes numb?

not everyone has the same anatomy regarding the routing of the psciatic nerve through the piriformous muscle.

Putting pads under thighs doesn’t address the specific point pressure causing the numb legs. The shape of the seat within 4" radius of your sit bones has more significance than under thigh support 6" forward. It’s the support of fat/muscle directly under your torso that matters because that is what will lift your skeleton up off of the psciatic nerve.

Making a new seat probably will address the problem with a few other modifications like putting in heel stops to take pressure off calf muscles.

graduate? you mean regress
unless you mean graduate to bigger slower less seaworthy. maybe you paddle in protected waters. i love my canoe. i love my kayaks. a canoe will not substitute for a kayak in conditions.

i have the numbleg syndrome on occasion. the solution for me involves a closer footbrace (foam blocks) for a more bent knee position and an inflatable thermarest seat pad. now i can stay out for hours.

and thanks jay!
Good article.

I’d like to recommend to everyone the Dr. Cox exercises for lower back pain, these can serve to keep the lower back and hamstrings loose, which can help keep the sciatic nerve calm.