shin or knee problems from paddling?

Has anyone ever had knee pain or shin splints that you attributed to paddling? My left knee has been hurting for the past month, and I’ve also been getting shin splints some days. Coincidentally, I got a new kayak about a month ago.

I’ve been attributing my knee/shin pains to other issues, mainly cycling (changed my seat position about the same time). But the problems also could be partly due to the shoes I’ve been wearing and just replaced.

I’m baffled by the leg problems. I’m a longtime cyclist (average about 600 miles/month for many years) and don’t generally have many injuries. Fiddled with my seat height after some fellow cyclists convinced me that my seat was too high, and that’s when the problems all began. However, that was also just about the time I got my new kayak as well – which is longer, narrower and less stable than my old recreational kayak, thus using more legs more while paddling.

Unless you have your foot brace(s)
way to short, and have been pushing like hell off them, I am guessing that it is because of your bike seat change.

If you are a long time cyclist and you have never had that problem in the past, you should never have listened to your friends.

Why not put the seat back the way you had it and see what happens.

I am also a long time cyclist, (over the hill now), amd my criteria on the height of the seat was and still is:

With your foot on the pedal and the pedal all the way closest to the ground, you should have just a slight bend in your knee.



How far down should your foot pegs be in your kayak? Or is there no one-size-fits-all? My knees have a slight bend with my pegs set where they are now, just enough so I can brace against the side of the kayak. However, the day I first had the shin problems my water shoes had fallen apart while I was paddling, so I took them off. The pegs were a little too far down that day, so my legs were more stretched out. It also was a very tough day paddling with a lot of wind and waves.

I’m also think the saddle height change on my bikes was the root of the problem, but I only lowered it about 0.5 cm. I should have known better as I had used the same saddle height for a long time. However, several of my fellow cyclists commented that my hips rocked a lot when I pedaled, so that got my thinking perhaps my seat was too high. I didn’t move it down that much, but I knew from previous experiences that a low saddle can bother my knees (such as when a seatpost slipped).

just like the bike
There is no one position that fits all in the kayak either.

Don’t know what boat you’ve got, but if you are up in the thigh supports you should be comfortable reaching the foot braces without stretching.

Bill H.

The Cycling Rule of Thumb…
If you have pain in the front of the knee your saddle is too low. If you have pain in the back of the knee your saddle is too high. Personally, I like my saddle as high as possible to get as much power out of my legs as possible. With a high saddle I can get more ankle involved in the stroke. I suspect the saddle change is the problem.

Probably the bike fit change
I agree with the others about this. Kayaking, though it does use the legs, doesn’t use them with the same kind of force that cycling does.

It is possible that your kayak switch has something to do with it, but I’d tweak the bike fit first.

May also have to do with the limited
ankle and leg motion while in the kayak. Biking takes the ankles through a wider range.

I suggest trying to get the load shifted from the balls of your feet in the kayak, to a more complete support of the whole sole of your foot.

I have a possibly related problem from canoeing. I kneel on the tops of my feet, and after a day of paddling, my tibialis anterior muscles are touchy, and tend to tremble when I am working the car’s accelerator pedal. Kneeling that way puts the tibs on a high degree of stretch, and they don’t work properly afterwards when in a more “normal” range.

Here is why I am wondering about the effect of paddling on my knees. I haven’t ridden my bike since last Thursday, but paddled 2.5 hours on Saturday and 1.5 hours on Sunday – and my knee was sore yesterday and killing me today. It hurt much worse than it did after the last time that I cycled. I thought taking 3 days off cycling would make my knee better, but it’s worse. Guess I need to go see a sports doc.

Paddling Position
Are your knees straight in the kayak or slightly bent? Slightly bent feels much better to me than straight.

Did lowering your saddle solve any problems you were having? If not, I’d put it back where it was.

I’m prone to tendonitis. Cycling regularly makes the knees feel good. Sporadic riding… not so good. Tell me if the sports doc says “anti-inflammatory and ride regularly.”

different positions
I had read someone say in an earlier post that a good starting position for footbraces is if you have your legs straight out in front of you, your feet should be on the footrest and stick straight up, with your toes pointing more forward as you raise your knees up to brace. I have been testing a few different positions, but seemed to come to close to the same position just by trial and error and they would have been following this advice

Paddling does sometimes make my knees
sore, whether it’s in a kayak or a canoe with footbrace.

My knees aren’t real great.