Suggestions on ankle pain when kneeling in canoe

I tend to get a bit of ankle pain when I’ve been kneeling in the canoe for about 30minutes or so.
I’ve tried a pool noodle to relieve pressure with limited success.
Any other ideas?

A larger diameter pool noodle? This is what I use with success.

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Stretching - I try to do a few minutes a day kneeling with my toes pointed back and instep on the ground. It helps, but doesn’t eliminate the problem. A lot of people complain about knee pain, but I have more probelms with my ankles.

Put two decent firm kneeling pads together to raise your knee 3" and have less pressure on you ankle. Not that I know anything about canoes.


I bought a kayak.


Get some minicel foam and cut some ankle blocks. It will provide much better support than pool noodle foam. You can experiment with different shapes, heights, widths and you can contour the tops if need be.

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  1. take your shoes off. No shoes, not even thin neoprene booties.

  2. bring several extra seat pads with you of varying thicknesses…from a thin one to a flotation cushion. Try different thicknesses until the majority of your weight is on your butt with only a little bit of weight on your knees

  3. in warm water use a short kneeling pad. The bend on your ankles will be slightly reduced if your feet rest on the hull instead of a kneeling pad. In cold water you will freeze.

  4. some boats are more roomy and comfy than others. If you have a low volume boat with a low seat you may need a new boat. :wink:

  5. ignore advice from kayakers


I am primarily a kayaker so according to TomL you should ignore anything I say.

That said, I have limited time my ankles can take the position. Raising the seat can change the amount of weight on your knees and the allover stretch on your lower leg. Have a canoe with that modification myself.

I have mucked much with padding around and under the ankle, on top of the protection offered by the kneeling pad and knee pads. Various things have helped. But nothing has fully removed the issuie for 70 year old boney joints. You lose fat layers under and around your feet as you age and it does have an impact.

Raising the seat is a strategy that can work. I think that finding the optimum height is important and half an inch can make a difference. If one has trouble getting their feet under the seat then raising it helps…otherwise adding thicker seat pads is an easy way to raise seat height. Bringing different thickness pads allows one to make a change if you get uncomfortable and sometimes that helps.

I sometimes high kneel with one knee up and one down just to change positions and stretch the ankles/knees on one side.

Just kidding about kayakers! Just don’t do anything crazy like jyak.

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True. I bought several canoes and a rec kayak. The paddling position while canoeing in my advanced years was not comfortable. That’s the reason I switched to yaking. However, I miss the leisurely glides and want to get back to canoeing. So I’m secretly paying attention to the tips. Canoeing isnt a “dark art”. It’s just a different way to paddle using a pizza flipper instead of a paddle.

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My problem is the ankle pain when and AFTER I pull my feet out from under the seat. It’s excruciating. It doesn’t bother me too much while kneeling, but if I go an hour or more without changing position, it’s awful. My legs will start hurting sometimes, and ankles a bit, but the real misery is after. I’ve somewhat given up on kneeling, as much as I prefer it.

Glucosamine, stretching, topical analgesic.
Try some pillows or saddle.

I know, no offense taken. :laughing:
Now if someone wants to talk about the Jstroke and aging wrist joints… Having tried to do canoeing all the right ways, I am fairly happy that I can flop into a kayak.

Try all of those things. I find the more time that I spend in the boat the longer I can stay in that position without discomfort. Nothing wrong with sitting on the seat, or getting out of the boat every once in a while.

If you don’t want to j-stroke it is also OK to sit-and-switch with a bent shaft paddle. Solves the ankle problem too. Lots of options in a canoe.

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I find myself sitting and switching more often than not, the canoe is only out in very protected areas anyway. I find the canoe is a great tool for an easy run out to paddle nearer shore in local ponds and small lakes with nice features like a waterfall of a swamp at one end. So if the wobble from having a higher center of gravity results in a swim it is not fatal. Just embarassing.

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Interesting update:
I went out for a short paddle last night and wasn’t nearly as uncomfortable. Didn’t use any ooffsets.
Maybe my ankles are acclimating.

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30 years of ww open boating, all on my knees. the secret is mini-cell foam, sculpted to support your SHINS…

I have a band saw that I use, but a hack saw will also work. A “dragon skin” works great for shaping that final ounce of comfort


They will eventually. It is an unnatural position, but the more you do it the longer you can last without taking a break. When it is time to take a break don’t torture yourself. In my flatwater boat I find a few minutes sitting on the seat is all I need, then I am fine to kneel again for a while. My whitewater boat has a pedestal, so sitting is not an option, but just getting up off the pedestal and flexing the ankles helps. Eventually I’ll need to get out and stretch - I usually need to empty the boat anyway, so two birds with one stone. :wink:


I raised the height of my pedestal n my WW Canoe and I installed a WeNonah sliding foot brace behind the pedestal. I push against the brace with the ball of my foot so my toes are pointing down. I also wear my heavier soled paddle boots to cushion my toes. Works well. This should work with a regular canoe seat too.