Pain in the Back

I am 29 years old and in good shape but have have been experiencing a pain in my lower back when I kayak. It usually sets in about an hour into a trip and is often times so painful that I have to cut my time on the water short. Anyone experience the same? Would a lumbar pillow or cushion help?

for me tight hams cause lower back pain. Got so bad I’ve given up the yaks and stick to canoes that I can kneel in.

If that sounds like your problem try stretching your hams.

Good Luck,


lower back pain
I started a thread titled tempest 170 and back pain a while ago…(maybe a week or so)

What I have since found is that it really is a matter of centimeters to get the comfort level right.

You are 29, I am 50. I don’t know what kind of shape you are in but I can tell you that I am doing a lot more crunches and situps in the gym now to strengthen my stomach muscles and promoting good posture. I find that if I lean back at all the pain comes sooner. Also, if the footpegs are not snugged up, you tend to slouch your pelvis into the boat causing eventual and probable lower back pain.

the things your mother always told you are correct…sit up straight, even lean forward just a bit. do your crunches and spend as much time in the boat as possible. this will make your body adapt also and get used to the new pressure points you are subjecting it to.

Back bands are nice…try to ignore that they are there altogether. but do push your butt back into the seat and cinch yourself up to thigh braces and footpegs. Steve Sherrer said that the contact from foot pegs, thighs and knees is much more important than hips. this will give you some wiggle room if you give a little space for the hips but you still retain great control over the boat.

<br />
Hope this helps. At least it worked for me.


this may sound weird but I just thought of something else that helped a lot. I carry a reasonably thick wallet and sit down on it on the right side all the time. I put a piece of foam on the right hand side of the seat where the wallet would be and damned if the pain didn’t go away. worth a try anyway. I must have a slight pelvic tilt that was trying to correct itself on the seat when I wore the swim trunks and as such was straining the pelvis.

like I said, it is a matter of centimeters…

I noted that you are a beginner

– Last Updated: Aug-02-05 5:05 PM EST –

Try several things;
1. Ease back on your power stroke. You are probably pushing to hard.

2. keep your paddle durations to only an hour , and then if you don't get the pain any more lengthen them each time you go out.

3. I am not sure if you know what the hurdle excersise is, but each time prior to your paddle, sit on the ground with one leg extended out in front of you and the other bent with from the knee down behind you. (Think of the position of a hurdler going over a hurdle).
Then using the arm on the side that has the leg behind you, bend your back and gently lean forward and touch the toe of your opposite leg. Don't do it in a jerky fashion. While you are doing it, the opposite arm should be slightly behind you Hold it for a few seconds and then bring it back. Do about five reps and then change to the opposite leg. You should feel your back muscles stretching.
You might want to do it when you finish also. this will help keep the back muscles loose.

It might work and it might not, but it is worth a try.

Good luck,


glad to see this. I will try it too!

pad under legs
I would get lower back pain also. I put a pad under both legs. My pads are at my calf. Some put the pads just in front of the seat. As soon as I had a leg rest, the pain was gone. Try a rolled of towel to test it. That was how I figured out how high to make it and where I wanted it.

Be careful
Setting your footpegs too close will cause back pain, too, as you end up jamming yourself into the backrest. Ideally, the pegs should be set so that you can straighten your legs comfortably. All you need to do is flex your feet forward to lock yourself into the boat.

Are you using a back rest?
If so take that thing out! Maybe. I know for many paddlers here they get great relief from a back support but for me it gave me a reason to paddle with bad form. When I paddled with a backband I tended to push against it. Made me paddle with a curve in my back. I couldn’t last very long in the saddle paddling like that. A couple hours at most. But after I removed my backband I paddled with better body position. Remember to keep your spine straight and use torso rotation. Knees bent. Fairly snug fit in the cockpit will be a definite plus. If you can, make contact with your butt, thighs, and feet, locking in your lower body so as to prevent unneeded movement and muscle fatigue. This is the main reason i choose a high volume sea kayak with a fairly high deck. So I could paddle comfortabley with my knees bent. This works very well for me at a moderate cruising speed. I am able to cover fairly long distances without wanting to get out of the boat.

My backband is a thing of the past and I don’t miss it a bit. The only time I wish it were still in my boat is when I hit something going backwards.

Maybe this is bad advice. I thought I would try to share what has worked for me and my back.