Paddling with a messed-up back

I have a bulging and torn disc in my lower back which means I cannot sit for long periods of time. I will spare the medical drama but suffice it to say that treatment has been ineffective and I am still actively looking for a treatment that helps. With a large dose of muscle relaxers and pain killers I can paddle a maximum of 1 hour. I am facing my 2nd season of little paddling and it sucks more than I can say. Previously to this problem I was quite comfy in my Loon 138. Does anyone paddle with a similar problem? Does anyone have suggestions on what I could do to extend my paddling time?

Had to give it up too.
I quit paddling for about a year and a half. During this time I learned that fixed seat rowing was not a problem and actually help my condition over time. After that I was able to paddle a canoe by alternating sitting in a high seat and knealing. Later I started with a better chiropracter and was able to kayak again. Last year I did my first kayak marathon.

If you cannot sit try kneeling or a really high seat. If you can only paddle for 30 minutes then paddle fast and get a good workout. Walk everyday and do you stretching as recommended by your doctor.

Find alternatives. Mine was rowing. Yours could be a Hobie peddle boat or a Stand up and paddle surf board.

YOur condition is likey to improve in the future, in the mean time find any way you can to stay active and on the water.

^^^^good advice! I have sufferd with a
bad back for the last 32 years. I am laid up at the moment, but will be back at it soon I hope. Carefully press on, paddling has been a life saver for me. Bill

Hmmm time for a solo canoe
and kneeling. Might not be for you but I ran out of fingers counting people I know that gave up sit on the bottom boats for canoes they kneel in.

All reported releived back pain as your spine is straighter.

You might meddle with a higher seat. Fit is crucial.

I agree with Kayakmedic. I too have

– Last Updated: Apr-01-10 5:16 PM EST –

had my share of ruptured discs, torn ligaments,etc.
I thought a canoe with no back support would kill me.I was wrong. I don't kneel but I can use a tractor or bench seat with less pain than any kayak.
SD, have you tried an epidural steroid injection? I had one that completely took away the pain for 2 years.

Not Quite the Same
My upper back was a mess and I almost gave up paddling altogether at one point. After years of going to the back cracker, a very good one, drug treatment, PT, I finally got an MRI and the truth was told. Two herniated disks and bone spurs. After talking to the doc I opted for the fix and got surgery. He didn’t feel the shots would be the fix. I’m 100% free of the pains I was having and am now dealing only with rebuilding muscles that weakened during the recovery. Not saying this is for everyone but it worked for me. Might be worth getting an MRI to see what is going on in there.

Just my .02.


Well I know how dedicated we over 30;-) crowd operate…dragon, you’ll be on your deathbed when you finally realize…you should’ve been paddling a canoe…lol.


Find a church that practices healing
go and get prayed for and God will heal you completely and perminately.

Is this B and B?
Healing churches fall right in with prosperity churches.

That’s next

I am meeting with a pain management specialist next week to discuss epidural injections, but I am terrified. 3 rounds of PT haven’t helped, but might help if the PT didn’t cause so much pain. I’m currently not a candidate for surgury.

I don’t have the room or resources to aquire a canoe right now but I see the logic in it. The ability to shift positions would be a huge help. I’ll look into the possibility of a higher seat too. My kayak is practically a raft anyhow and I only go in flatwater, so a higher COG would not hurt.

Thanks to everuone for the good advice.

maybe you are or have been using …

– Last Updated: Apr-01-10 11:35 PM EST –

....... a wrap around elastic/velcro mid-section (back brace) ... or maybe you haven't tried it yet .

These will help you when trying to deal with back injuries while doing physical stuff ... wrap/strap it up as tight as you can stand . Some of them even have hot pac pockets to go in them while wearing .

Not saying this brand in particular , there are many many makers out there ... but this link gives you the idea of what's available . A nice wide one is good , some types even have a full length back support .

Do not be afarid to try that epidural that can work wonders.

In additon you did not mention if your disc was associated with pinched nerves.

A different kind of pain med is needed for the pinched nerves.

my borther has bone spurs that grow from his disc’s which pinch off the nerve roots. He found better relieaf with valium where as morphine did nothing for him.

I too have back problems
and kneeling problems, I recently gave up my yak and bought a solo canoe as I could not get in and out of the kayak due to knees. I also use and inversion table. (you hand upside down and rock it back

and forth too. It does help. The worst thing is don’t just quit, If you don’t use it, you lose it and this includes you muscles. I stop every hour of paddling and get out, walk around and stretch. This helps too.

I can still cover 10-12 miles a day and I don’t do day trips so camp does feel pretty good.

Good luck with the back.

Great posts here. A couple of my
observations. If you have any Stenosis, don’t use the back brace as it compresses the spine and make your symtoms worse. Braces work well for muscle related back pain, even muscle pain caused by spasms that are caused by nerve inpingement. Sometimes the brace will cause the nerve to pinch more and this must be avoided. I too benefit far more from Valium than Morphine. I hate Morphine. I would not consider paddling on anything more than Advil or Alieve. Try alternating between them. Have you done much with your seat? Is your forward stroke well develolped? Keep your torso angle forward while supporting the front of your thighs. Pure vertical is often asking for problems, instability is usually worse in the vertical position when you place a load on it (paddle stroke). Keep experimenting and you will find little ways of helping yourself out. As you know core strength is everything in spine issues, and paddling is great for core strength. Finally, stretching and physical therapy only made things worse for me. Everyone is different. Bill

Silver, I got your back!

The Virginia Spine Institute specializes in research, PT, pain management, etc. Its a world class operation and on the lobby walls are pictures of recovered patients with success stories including sky divers, NFL football players, NBA stars, auto racers, and me :slight_smile: If they can’t fix you, nobody can.

I had an MRI, which showed stenosis and bone spurs caused by a herniated disk and under went uneventful surgery. 8 months later and with the help of their expert PT therapist, I was back on the water with absolutely no pain and just a slight loss of flexibility. These folks are miracle workers. Good luck to you :slight_smile:

If nothing works,
I would suggest like a few of the above posts, and that is to give a canoe a try.

You might be surprised as to the joy of paddling one.

When I am in my kayak I like that best, but when I am in a canoe, I like that best.



Look at it this way

– Last Updated: Apr-02-10 8:41 AM EST –

1 hour of paddling is better than none. Perhaps you could get out and stretch a bit and lay on a blanket and continue a bit more? Gentle exercise always helps as long as you don't overdo it. You know your back best and you have to experiment to see what feels best for you. Good luck with any rehabilitation you do and try to think positive. Sometimes those topical ointments like "Cool Heat" etc. can help too.

Everybody in my age group seems to have a knee, elbow or shoulder that no longer works perfectly and we adapt to what we can do in comfort.

Morphine was my friend.
Postoperative that is. If morphine didn’t work, it wasn’t the drug, but the strength. You could perform self surgery with the right dose and care less.

You know I have one
It’s great for standing endurance but I have had trouble adapting it to sitting. Maybe I’ll work on it at the office and if I can get it to work, I’ll apply it to my kayak. Thanks!

Thanks everyone

There is a lot of good advice here and things I haven’t tried, back-wise, paddle-wise, and technique-wise. I will work on them all along with continuing to seek medical treatment. Above all, it’s good to know that there is a potential light at the end of the tunnel.