paddling with knee replacement

Had a left knee replacement app 3 weeks ago, things going as expected. I am currectly paddling a wilderness systems Tempest 170 poly and a pungo 12ft.

I am concerned about wet exiting the Tempest with a bad knee. I was thinking about getting a wider boat for the future. I’d like to hear from others out there who have had knee replacements and how it has changed your paddling abilities. I was also told that it wont feel comfortable to sit locked in a position for more than 30 min so long distance paddling doesn’t sound to promising, that’s why I was thinking about a larger cockpit to be able to move a bit. I do enjoy also kayak/camping so a SOT would be out of the question. Thx for anything you can tell me.

For what it is worth:
and first of all you have already had the knee replacement, so I wish you the best of luck.

I am a ex long distance runner/racer and ran my left knee into the ground years ago. After three knee operations I now have bone on bone with no cartilage, and live with pain.

I was all set to get a replacement about seven or eight years ago, and asked the doctor if I would still be able to get into and out of the kayak the same way, and without any hesitation, he said I could still get in and out, but it would never be the same way. - I never persued it any farther, and chose to go the rest of my life with out the replacement, or until the other one went and I couldn’twalk any more.

I would be very interested and appreciate it if you would post here again on how you are able to get in and out of your yak as you progress.

Thnks and best of luck,

Jack L

I don’t have a replaced knee, but do suffer from the Jimmy-Legs and have to be able to move around quite often. I stumbled onto a CD Pachena, which is basically a shortened (to 14’) CD Solstice hull with a huge cockpit opening (17.25 x 35.5). There’s plenty of room to adjust your legs (14" deep), and wet exiting consists of simply falling out of it. It’s by far the most comfortable boat I’ve ever been in, leg-wise. If you come across a used one you might check it out (it’s discontinued). It’s good in confused seas as well.

I did try a few SOT (Bic Scapa, Heritage Nomad and some others) but hated the way they paddled - just not my thing.

paddling after knee replacement…
I had both knees replacement at same time 3 yrs ago. I just started paddling 1 1/2 yers ago. My first boat was a Hurricane_sport exp model, with very long cockpit to compensate for less knee flex. Everything works fine. Just resently got a CD_Soltice Titian with much shorter cockpit. Wet exits are no problem. Entering/exiting from land is a ongoing experment. Paddling for 3 hours at a time is not a problem either. I think the newer boat is getting easier all the time for enter/exit. Good luck with getting the knex flextion back.


One of the reasons I prefer canoeing to kayaking is the multiple leg positions I can take. Would you consider a slightly different version of paddling? I kneel quite a bit (butt on seat, knees on bottom of boat), which I find comfortable but not everyone does. I also have the option of a half-kneel (one leg extended forward, one under), which I use often, and a full sit (both legs forward).

I find it easier to get into a canoe than into a kayak, unless the kayak has quite a long cockpit.

Other canoe-kayak comparisons: Carrying capacity is usually not an issue in a canoe, unless you are going on major expeditions. Learning to go in a straight line takes more practice up front (steeper learning curve than a kayak). A kayak with a deck and bulkheads can handle worse conditions than a fully outfitted canoe (if only because of the lower windage and easier reentry), but a canoe can do surprisingly well once you have some experience and equipment.

Good luck with the new joint. I probably have a knee replacement in my future, so I would be interested in hearing your experiences over time.


Paddling with knee replacement
I’ve lived a rugged life and will be having a knee replacement pretty soon. this will just add another to my long list of battle scars. Right now I’m bone on bone in one knee. I’m a canoe fanatic, but until I had my arm crushed, I could hold my own in a kayak just fine. Might I suggest trying a good quality canoe. I can go all day in a canoe, but only a short time in a kayak. They carry more, allow better long distance viewing, better for photography, much easier to get into and out of, and weigh the same or less as an equal length kayak. They hold their own in whitewater as well. Just be sure to try a good quality canoe that is right for what you like to do…And above all else, enjoy the adventure!

Be joining you soon,


a Tsunami! or Why not a SOT?
I hope you find the boat you need and it goes well for you as I remember not being able to paddle for more than a year one time.

The Wilderness system Tsunami series in 145 , 165 or 175 might be ideal boats for you. They paddle well and have lots of room for your legs and your camping gear.

I don’t understand why a sit on top would not be Ideal.

My Tarpon 160 holds more gear than any sea kayak I’ve seen and is good for easy 25 mile days. When the wind is above 20 it is a bear to paddle but every boat has it’s limitations.

My Cobra Expedition has almost as much storage as the tarpon but paddles much more like a real sea kayak. At 18 feet long and 24 inches wide it is a little slower than my CD solstice but not much over a long day.

If I had to paddle my fastest marathon in a day I’d choose the Solstice, but if I had to paddle more than a marathon or more than one 20 + mile day in a row I’d choose either of the above sit on tops.

A longer Pungo
I forgot to add that the longer Pungo is stupidly fast for a 14 foot boat. One retired fellow who has one stays at the front of the pack all day in our group even on marathon day. So if you like the Pungo 12 go ahead and get a 14. It even has two bulkheads. And if you want, I can share a good way to mount an electric bilge pump in it so you can self rescue easily.

My Knee Replacement
My left knee was replaced 11 months ago. In my early 20s a basketball knee injury had me undergo the surgeon’s knife - techniques were crude then (1970) compared to today. The doc took all the shredded cartilage out and I’ve been bone on bone since to the point my left knee became bow legged. I never wanted to undergo knee surgery again so I waited until the pain got too much. My current surgeon’s advice was despite all the x-rays, MRIs, etc they can perform, only the patient knows what they given up in mobility and what pain they are experiencing. He told me a year before surgery, you’ll be back when you know you need the replacement. He had to saw some bone to get the leg straight again - one of the negatives of being bone on bone so long

As far as recovery, I did knee weight strengthening for 3 -4 months before surgery. I think that helped a lot during my recovery. About 4 months afterwards I sea kayaked for the first time. Went out for about 2 hours. Getting in was fine - not as fluid as before but certainly workable. Getting out by myself was another story - had to move out to deeper water, wet exit (not a problem) and walk the kayak (CD Storm) in. 2 months (6 months post op) after that I was able to exit as well as before surgery.

During the first 9 months of post op paddling the CD Storm I found it painful for my replaced knee to be in the same position all the time and the knee is still healing (takes about a year). Today, 11 months later, I’m comfortable in the kayak again. I did a lot of cycling to get strength and flex back - that probably has helped. Last month I spent a week sea kayaking, some days being in the boat for multiple sessions of 2 + hours and my repaired knee didn’t feel any different than the original issue.

Summary - My CD Storm has a fairly large cockpit, but still too small for me to be able to get my knees to pop up into the opening. Every recovery, and surgery is different so my experience is just a general guide. Doing weights before, and taking serious post op therapy should improve your recovery speed and level. Lastly, to get back on the water ASAP I used my canoe most of the time after surgery until the knee felt OK in the kayak - the canoe gives you multiple seating positions and lets you adjust the leg if your knee is bothering you.

Good luck!

Funny many mention a canoe, I was looking into one last Fall after going on a 4 day trip in NY. My friend has one that I can borrow and I’m looking foward to that. I didn’t do any big exercises before the operation just daily stuff so it’s to late to go that route. I am working hard on my p/t and I have plenty to time to get better, no rushing. I’ll keep you informed in the future and thx for sharing some of your stories/ideas. Of course if $ wasn’t a problem I’d get 2/3 different kayaks and a kelvar canoe.

Question for knee replacement guys
Did the Docs say you would eventually gain near - to full range over time or was it a given that you would have limited range with the replacement ? Just wondering.

My knee was pretty bad and stiff for a long time … Looser now but I gotta think its because the middle is wearing out … LOL.

Gawd, why can’t they come up with a replacement for that meniscus !!! ? ; 0

Placid Boat Works
builds canoes that are designed to be paddled with a kayak paddle or a single blade bent shaft. Their Spitfire and Rapidfire are lovely, lightweight boats though a bit pricey.

Range of Motion
My surgeon told me I could expect a near complete return to doing many of the athletic things that I had lost over the years. The verdict is still out on that but I’m nearly pain free today and much better able to do things I had pain while doing - walk, hike, golf, etc. Still have yet to try kneeling in my canoe running a Class II or III rapid, but looking forward to it.

During physical therapy my therapist said they looked for me to attain 120-130 degrees of motion. This is measured by having you lay on your back and, with your foot flat on the table, pulling your leg so the heel bones approaches your butt. They place a protractor across the tibia and femur to measure your range of motion.

I was told 130 degrees is excellent - typical of an uninjured knee. I got back to 120 degrees after 2-3 months. I don’t think it has progressed any further. Now I had limited range of motion for 25+ years in that leg, so perhaps all of my other tissues - muscles, tendons, etc, had shrunken to a point where all I would get is 120 degrees.

I would say my recovery is 85-90%, but I am easily much better off today than I was 11 months ago. Getting a good surgeon is obviously important.

Hope that helps some of you orthopedic candidates out there.

Support stem cell research
and be a little patient, it’s coming.

There’s hope
My husband is 65 and had a total knee replacement a year ago. He worked diligently to drop into a kayak butt first and then pull legs in. He’s 6’, paddles a variety of boats, including a Meridian, an Andromeda, and various others. He does it - maybe not as gracefully, but he does it. He also worked REALLY HARD post surgery to get the knee bent.

got me to bend the leg and while I was cursing he said “congrats you got 120degrees”, he then let go and I almost punched him in the face! But I realized that I needed him a little bit longer and he was only doing his job. Sadistic nut, like who wants to become a root canal dr? another crazy profession…

back to topic…I’m just a little impatient and have to wait, but while I’m waiting I wanted to hear other people’s ideas…When I go to sleep the next few nights I gonna try to fake a dream about buying a canoe, maybe my wife will get the hint!

My friend came over yesterday and we started our planning for this years NFCT here in NY. We paddled part of it last summer and want to continue this voyage over the next 10 years, it is app a 750 mile trail so it will take some time. Will keep u updated in April when I try the Pungo for a day trip…thx…safe paddling


– Last Updated: Feb-23-11 7:19 PM EST –

David, its not the getting in and out of the kayak or canoe that's going to kill you its the portages (Carries in ADK speak) that are going to get you; I've seen your technique on them and it's not a pretty sight. And, whats with the 10 years to complete the NFCT -- Pops, Pete and I will have a combined age over 200 by then -- We'll have to do the portages in our wheel chairs while drooling and wearing depends.

My Knee
I had knee replacement 3 yrs ago and it is great,Im 58 and can bend my new better than I could either before,<br /> I paddle kayaks and surf skis and dont have a problem. Its the first time I have been able to snow ski without pain,

I do 100 mile bike rides without a problem, so I believe that it will do nothing but make your life better!1

10 years?
Thx potterspoint, that’s what I wanted to hear!

Waterspyder, Hmmm, I’m guessing you know my name from following me for 3 days last summer. Wait, was that you that was almost hit my car debree going the wrong way on the “carry”?

If we keep on trying to float the rapids then we’ll never get out of the NY section. Maybe Chris can “carry” us and finish the trail in 5 years. You know some of us aren’t retired yet. But, truthfully it’s time to try some light weight canoes. Think about late April.

Paddling with knee replacements
I had a bilateral replacement two years ago. I paddle a Tempest 170, it has plenty room to move your legs to different positions. The only time I have had problems is getting out of the boat when doing a landing in a large dumping surf. I do not jump out as fast as you need to at times. As far as wet exits go, what about learning to roll so you do not wet exit as often.