Paddling posture.

During my latest incident in the continuing saga of back problems, I read somewhere that the posture that exertes the least stress on the lower back is reclining , the more past vertical, the better.

I have also read here that this is not a good posture for paddling.I have tried it and it puts more paddling stress in the arms and shoulders instead of the abs.

Is there a happy medium?

I don’t know what you are useing for a backrest but I have had good luck with a low riding backband. I had a couple kayaks that had fixed stationary back supports and I had a lot of lower back pain after paddling 45 min. Since putting in a flexable backband that supports my lower back I can paddle for hours. Have you tried different types of backbands?

I haven’t , but based on advice I’ve
gotten here, I am about to order the Surf to Summit Performance backband.

I’ve got a Voyageur SOT backband
rigged in my solo canoe. I remove it for transport. It has made a huge difference in combination with Yakima footbraces. Changing footbrace adjustment several times during a day helps my back and legs. The backband is adjusted so it supports the lumbar area. I also have fat pool noodles as thigh braces or pads that help give me more contact with the boat when sitting.

it would be nice to make a backband do double duty. Back support and tumpline. Should be easy to rig one up. With the right attachment points I think it would make a pretty good portage yoke too.

Note: if someone needs a backband to stay in/on a boat, that person is not seated properly (stronger abb/lumbar muscle are needed), and if he/she is a kayaker, he/she is an arm paddler because rotating while using a backbands will be difficult, plus the backband will burn the lower back of the paddler while rotating.

Only my two cents,


Your two cents…
… is right for active paddlers who’s stroke power pulls them off the back support anyway.

There is a use for a backband in a kayak though. My low narrow band in my 700 probably gives less support than that deep bucket in your Mako! It is positioned low and acts as much a rear edge to the seat as it does a hip/lower back support. It’s main benefit is contact for rolling/bracing.

Upright posture and rotation while paddling are the key to back health. Spine alignment, load sharing over a wider range of muscles, and improved circulation/flexibility all result. With a proper setup and even fair technique this will not only eliminate on water problems - it will strengthen back and abs for other things too.

Anything else may feel good - but higher supports and padded cushions can impede rotation - forcing stresses to concentrate in certain areas - reduce circulation - and so on. These are the dangers of long term arm paddling. Killer for lower back. Active support is very different from static support. This is not furniture - yet that’s how people seem to shop for it.

Realistically though, many SOTs offer limited remedy beyond what was already suggested in the other thread. Outfitting options are limited - and IMO should be less so. Take a look at the EPIC SOT or any surf ski or racing kayak to see what minimal and mechanically correct seating for paddling looks like. The similarities are no coincidence.

Most wide plastic SOT owners are not doing enough speed or distance to develop the posture and basic fitness that would end their pain - and most of their boats are set up in such a way that they would be hard to do that in. I found the T160 to be a pleasant exception if the seatpan is left bare and the smooth back support was left in place but barely used. I cannot think of another similar kayak I’d want to do 30 miles on.

Truth about back issues for 95% - a reduction in body weight of 20-30% and regular exercise would fix it. More reason to paddle longer and harder.

For those who mostly want to relax on the water (the VAST majority), paddle mostly leisurely, and fish/drink/whatever out there - the above is lost on you - and you will never find an optimal seating solution. Just part of the deal. Try stuff until you get it where it bugs you the least and enjoy.

Upright Posture

– Last Updated: May-11-05 12:58 PM EST –

If for any reason, someone allows any part of the lower back to touch the deep seat of the Mako or any other ski while properly rotating and using legs, at a rate of 80/90 stroke per minute (4800/5400 per hour). Oh man!, the huge blisters/burns will put out of business for several weeks most paddlers. I have been there, and I have done that :D

No matter what someone paddles (recreational/racing boats) and no matter the objectives of the paddler (a leisure paddle or the world cup) the gluteus should be the only part of the body touching the seat of the boat if the principal objective is to keep an erect spine and long term pain free.


PS: I know, I know. Most people would rather look for a magical solution such as a backbands or wherever, which can be bought overnight, than put the effort and commitment to learn a proper posture that may require a life time.

I think these are some good general
statements, but I hope you never have to paddle a mile in my arthritic, ruptured disc x 2 , developing stenosis, 56 year-old, lower back. I am a proponent of fitness and , I think, in better shape than most my age. Guys, I can promise you that time may be delayed, but never beaten.

Oh, and I want a back support for when I get the time to paddle twice a month.I’m a wuss.

backband to consider
The backband from has gotten excellent reviews from the Boundary Waters crowd and is designed to work with Wenonah bucket seats. This is the same guy that does Wenonah’s portage yokes and who designed and produces their new foot brace and adjustable bench seat. Everything I’ve seen from him has been well-designed and excellent quality.

PS: Second edition :smiley:
The way “recreational” Sot/Sink paddlers seat is exactly the same in both cases according to what I am able to see. The only different is that the second ones are seated in more expensive boats (there are exceptions).

Someone is a recreational paddler besides the kind of craft he/she paddles, and to be honest, 9 out of 10 Sink paddlers I see on a daily basis are not Sea Kayakers. They have horrible forward stroke (arm paddlers) , very weak recovery techniques, don’t role, and paddle if and only if there is nice weather forecast…



As long as they’re happy!
I see the same thing. Only reason I care is I know what they’re missing out on! Oh well. They are having fun too. For many it’s more of a get outside and relax/socialize thing. The way you paddle would just not interest them (and would probably kill them!)

I would call them “Paddlers” - because what they do would be pretty much the same whether using SINK, SOT, or canoe. IMO “Kayakers” should have at least a fair stroke to get from A to B efficiently and some decent level of proficiency with basic recovery skills suitable to a kayak. I’d put myself in the “kayaker” group now - heading toward “sea kayaker” (this is a different breakdown independent of beginner to advanced). Give me a few thousand more miles and I might have a good forward stroke…

I am fortunate to know quite a few “kayakers” and a few “Sea kayakers”. A lot of them post/lurk here. I know even more “paddlers” - but don’t paddle with them as mixed groups that are too mixed just don’t work.

Those people I do paddle with - it tends to be more roll practice and short distance oriented. My more usual 12-20 milers I seem to be on my own (hard to find people who enjoy similar pace - either too fast like you, or they stick to “normal” touring speeds that turn exercise paddles into all day events with breaks and such). To paddle the way I like to in a social setting I have to go to races - and be reminded I am not very fast.

Speaking of mixed groups, are you coming to the multi-club picnic Ice? Plenty of room for that Mako on the ocean side…

Got one . Works great with thye seat
lowered on the Voyager.

There is no reason you should ever have pain in your back.

First you need to strengthen the abs which support the back.

Also if you want to eliminate chronic pain FOREVER in your back or elsewhere get the book called “Pain Free” by Pete Egoscue

ISBN# 0-553-37988-7


I suffured from lower back pain until
I removed my backband altogether. I don’t miss it at all now. Removing it forced me to use a better paddling posture without thinking about it. I have never had a sore back from paddling since. Sometimes sitting in a sea kayak for 10-12 hour days.

With a backbadn I think I unconsciously bent my spine. Without it, I tend to sit more upright.

backband fallacy
i don’t buy the notion that a backband prevents you from rotating your torso during a stroke. perhaps it might have that effect in pure racing kayaks which don’t use them, but the large majority of rotation in your spine has occured before you get to your lumber region. and the small amount of rotation occuring there can still be done with your backband in place. friction between your clothing, spraydeck/pfd etc will play at least as much a role in resisting the twist.

Mako: “Out of Order”

– Last Updated: May-12-05 5:04 PM EST –

but only for a couples of days :D :D :D

I am re-coating its hull with epoxy. It was great but after 1000 miles, a couples of onces of epoxy will make it even better.
We (the whole family) spent last weekend paddling in Key Largo, and on Monday I had a blast triangleing (sp?) Miami port, Key biscayne, and Virginea Key. Now, I am working. Oh man! I miss the water, but next week, I'll start school again, so I won't have time to do anything on the boat until the summer term is over, exactly after the Nationals.


Yeah get rid of your backband
You only need them because of the crappy seats they put in kayaks that are tilted back. All that does is push you into your backband and puts un-needed pressure where you don’t need it. My SOF has no backband (just a padded board which I hardly touch) and no seat and it’s very comfortable. You’ll have much more contact with the hull and you’ll paddle with better posture. At least I find this true, it may not be for others. I’m taking the seat out of my S$G too because it makes my feet go numb, paddling without it is great.

Anyway give it a try. Start from scratch and take it all out and add padding to fit you just right.

Good luck.