Thigh braces causing bruises?

I rented a WS Tempest 165 pro(2012 model) to use this weekend. I kind of wanted something of similar size to compare to the Suka when I try it in a week, because I won’t have much time to demo it. And I’ve never been in a 21 inch beam kayak, nor have I been in a kayak over 16 ft. Obviously the cockpit sizes are different, and the hull shape is somewhat different, but it was as close as I could get in my area.

I really liked the Tempest, btw. I still feel that it is a little large for me, even with all the adjustments you can make. I found it to be more stable than I was expecting…I did get dumped once, but I was prepared for that as I was edging a little beyond my abilities to see what I - and it - could do. I was back in the cockpit and all pumped out within a minute or so, easy water for a cowboy self-rescue.

ANYWAY. Getting to the point of my post…I was doing a lot of edging today. I haven’t been in a kayak capable of doing much edging before, so I had a lot of fun in the tempest. BUT. I did find that before long I was getting burst blood vessels under my skin from pressing into the thigh braces so much. The bottom of the WS thigh brace doesn’t seem to be very smooth or cushy. It has some sort of flat, round plastic piece right in the middle of it that was making circles on my skin. Next time I wouldn’t wear shorts, that is for sure. But I’m not sure that even pants would help.

Am I doing something wrong? Except hitting the tipping point once, I had 2 hours of fun, successful edging and play. The boat certainly responded. Has anyone else had this happen? This boat happens to be for sale, so if I don’t like the Suka, I may decide to buy this one instead…I have so few second hand options in my neck of the woods, and I can’t afford the new ones that I want. Is there some way that I can line the thigh braces so that they are more comfortable?

From your description, I don’t see anything you were doing wrong. You were pushing the boat and doing stuff which you are not used to doing.

If it was your personal boat, the easy fix is to just add some padding to the thigh braces. And it wouldn’t surprise me if the body would learn to bruise less (like how skin forms a callous - maybe the blood vessels under the skin do the same?).

I’m not what you’d call an…
experienced kayaker, but I found that once I started doing the bulk of my edging by weighting a butt cheek, instead primarily using my thighs, it got a lot easier.

Neoprene might help
Glue it to the thigh braces. No reason not to wear shorts.

Spot on!
The thigh braces are there when you need them, but edging is better controlled by pressing down with a butt cheek, not lifting the opposite leg to engage the thigh brace. Try edging by shifting weight from one butt cheek to the other. I most comfortable paddling when my thigh is 1/2 to 1" below the brace.

A combination of butt cheeks and
thighs should work best.

I do quite a bit of work on each of my kayaks to increase the area of the thigh pads and to see they hit me in the right place.

I usually wear shorts

– Last Updated: Aug-18-13 12:54 AM EST –

When I go out for a couple of hours of play boating, which involves a lot of boat control. No issues. But, in the same boat, over a couple of hours during a pool session, I do get scuff marks on my legs. So there I wear simple tights under the shorts and that eliminates the issue. I do that early in the season too, both for added warmth as well as to let my skin toughen more gradually where it needs to in order to handle handling a boat actively for hours.

Edit: on the other hand, if you get something other than chafing, then it would not be unreasonable to assume your boat needs to be further outfitted for you and likely that your technique needs to be tweaked too. For instance, if the thigh braces are too high for you (hard to imagine that in a T165, but you are small) you will make contact through your knee caps and that is painful after a while - add padding in the right places and/or raise the seat. If you are new to edging, you are probably putting too much leg pressure in it and adding to or causing most of the discomfort yourself.

Minicell and hip pads
Try various thicknesses and shapes of minicell for the underside of knee braces and see if there are hip braces installed

for all the suggestions, you guys. Since it is a rental, I’ll have to wait and see if I like it more than the Suka to buy it or not, and then I can outfit it to my hearts content and line that thigh brace. I sure wish I could try a composite Eliza before I have to decide so that I could know whether I like that one even more. Though from what I’ve read, I’d probably find the seat pan a little wide…

I’m guessing my primary problem is probably technique: overuse of my knee/thigh. I’ll have to try mainly shifting my weight when I paddle today and see what kind of response I get. As I said, I’m new to edging and there are no more classes offered in my area until next spring, so I’m feeling things out on my own. I should be able to get the hang of it; I already horseback ride a lot and you use your weight a lot there.

If you are particularly light it will be dificult to lean some kayaks with control but one of the biggest differences for me came from outfitting the hip/thigh area so that when the kayak is leaning on edge my weight is well supported. A wide seat pan is easy to pad out and shape to fit, a tight one isn’t.

area do you live and paddle, that there are no more classes offered until spring?

Best Wishes


Too much effort
It’s possible that you are pressing way too hard on the thigh/knee braces and whatever the maneuvers are that you were doing are somewhat radical. Try to relax and make your turns more graceful. Edging for the most part should be a subtle thing that is done naturally without having to think about it.

I live

– Last Updated: Aug-18-13 10:24 AM EST –

in Saskatchewan, Canada. Most of the clinics and classes around here are in June, July and August. They do some stuff in pools in the winter, I think, but things like edging they work on out on the lake during the summer. I've missed the boat on that one this summer!

It could be I was trying to turn the kayak too quickly and edging too aggressively. I kind of wanted to see how quickly you can turn it around with nothing other than edging, while maintaining forward paddling. After awhile I gave up and just started edging while using some sort of a sweep stroke to spin me around quickly. I don't like how using just sweep strokes brings you to a standstill.

It's not that I'll usually be paddling in such a way that I need a quick turn while still moving forward..but since I'm considering buying, I wanted to know what it could do and whether is seemed maneuverable enough to me. I think for the most part it was, I just need to improve my skills. I'm 130-135 lbs, 5'6. The Tempest is probably small enough for me, but I'll be able to test whether a smaller boat effects my ability to really move it when I test the Suka.

how to edge

– Last Updated: Aug-19-13 9:50 AM EST –

Especially for s smaller person trying get a bigger boat on edge. Shift your weight in the seat - then add thigh. Reduces tension and still works.

As above,minicell to smooth the surface out

Congrats on getting that capsize out of the way!

No, you’re on the right track.
I don’t think you’re edging the kayak too aggressively. Keep pushing the limits as you train yourself. Generally speaking, the further you lay your kayak over, the more quickly you can spin it around. It’s fun on flatwater, and you’ll be happy you’ve worked these things out if you ever get into situations where quick maneuvering is helpful. I think you’re absolutely on the right track pushing technique to the point of capsize trying to get a better feel for the hulls you’re trying to choose from. It’s also the fast track to building skills and familiarizing yourself with your kayak once you do make a decision. I applaud your approach.

Edging every kayak is usually a combination of lifting a knee and transferring weight to one side. There is a big coordination factor when you’re going for significant edging, flirting with the capsize point, or going a little beyond it. You can practice this as well.

You lift with your left knee to edge to the right. You also transfer your weight to the right while keeping your weight centered over the kayak. Greater flexibility will allow you to do this to much greater degrees. You will feel your side flexing to create quite a curve as you really bring an edge up. The coordination comes when you reach the capsize point. As you become more coordinated with your boat, you will hopefully be able to lay off the pressure of the lifted knee and rely more on weight shift to hold the edge once you approach the capsize point.

Two things can happen. Most people not well-practiced at edging will feel the kayak starting to go off balance, and pull both knees up tight against the thigh braces. They will then capsize. In the tense moment, they are unable to release tension from the knee that is pulling them over.

Here’s the other option. Someone who doesn’t resign themself to slight edging, and actually enjoys working the kayak like you seem you may enjoy, will figure out that by relaxing that left leg that was just being used to pull the kayak on edge to the right, and simultaneously lifting the right leg into the thigh brace, and twisting their body and hips as if trying to lift the right edge, will very quickly settle the kayak back down level.

It’s a muscle memory thing. Eventually it comes naturally. But there will likely be a lot of capsizes, at least there were for me, getting to that point of having it fairly well ironed out. I always considered it part of the fun. I was just doing exaggerated demonstrations of this very thing to a paddling friend yesterday and capsized myself. So I’m never one to think a person should be so embarrassed by imperfection that they stop exploring their limits.

The other piece is blade angle control. Anytime you sweep the paddle one direction or the other, the leading edge needs to be up slightly to give it a climbing angle, to offer you support. It’s not something that works if you have to think about it while you do it. You just have to know that’s the case, practice it plenty, and eventually get a feel for it. Eventually it will just come naturally.

So in a forward or reverse sweep, or really whenever, if you happen to edge just a bit too far and start to come off balance, you have a second tool. In addition to instantly relaxing the lifting knee, pulling up on the opposite knee, and twisting your hips over to the other side to bring the kayak back to level, you’ll also flatten that blade that’s sweeping, while still maintaining a climbing angle, to offer you that little extra bit of support there while your body performs its transition. It allows you to level the kayak under you prior to bringing your head and body’s weight back centered over the kayak. That’s always the order. Level the kayak with your hips, then bring your body and head back over the top.

You’ll find that all the paddle support in the world won’t keep you up if you keep that knee tight that was initially used to put yourself on edge. So getting the body mechanics right is essential. The paddle support should be viewed as just a little extra support to allow you to go a little further off balance and still recover - but it’s not really the trickiest part of the recovery in my opinion.

In all rolling and bracing, the less you rely on paddle support, and the more you’re able to use good body mechanics, the more successful you will be. But you need both. So finding ways to iron out blade angle control is a huge help with everything else. For a while I spent a lot of time just sitting in the kayak, and sweeping the blade back and forth through the water, lifting the leading edge, dropping it so the blade would start to dive, then twisting it so that it would come back up to the surface. This was just to develop that feel and muscle memory for what was happening with my blade angle, so that I could eventually control it without paying attention to it.

For thigh braces, there’s lots of little flat neoprene pads that will help. I picked up something called “dragon skin” that I glued onto several thigh braces. In addition to just a little cushion, it grips against your wet bare legs, or pantlegs, or whatever, so that your leg won’t slip off when engaged against the thigh brace.

Good luck with your boat search, and your advancement in edging technique.

Thanks for all the help
I had to take the rental back this morning, but yesterday afternoon I took it out again and practiced using my weight more than my knee…it definitely helped, my knees weren’t sore at all. It did result in slower turns, though. Which was fine, and probably what I’ll use most of the time, but I do like to be able to turn on a dime if I want to! No capsizes, which was good because I had to go to a family supper afterwards and didn’t want to have to re-do my hair ha ha!

I find that I probably use my knees as a bit of a cheat or a crutch. It is easy to hold a steady edge if I really use my knee to keep myself in position. If I try to just weight one side and only offer slight support with my knee, my edge has a little more wobble in it…I’m just too unpracticed and the muscle control isn’t quite there. It is a great thing to practice and develop though! All the things that I can work on make me excited ha ha, I do tend to be an aggressive learner. I always dress for capsize anyway because I don’t mind it, and if I’m going to push past where my skills are, it is always a possibility! Wakes me up, teaches me something, and I can practice streamlining self-rescue anyway. Maybe next year I can start learning to roll and skip that step.

I’ll look for those neoprene covers, or else get some foam if I wind up buying the Tempest. I have to wait until next Monday when I can test the Suka!

Thanks for not shaming me on my edging leading to capsize…that is just the way I tend to do things/learn. I was the same learning to ride: always willing/prepared to fall off and get back on. Otherwise it is hard to define my limits!

Maybe I missed it, but
I’m wondering if you are using any kind of bow rudder with your paddle inverted. For a very effective tight turn without getting too far on edge, try flipping the blade over, start a rudder brace just a little ahead of amidship and then blend it to a bow draw and then a full sweep on the other side. This allows you to use your forward momentum to its best advantage as opposed to starting with a reverse sweep.

My “quick turn”

– Last Updated: Aug-19-13 6:34 PM EST –

maneuver was basically just a low brace turn ha ha! Pretty novice, but...that's what I am! I have seen a couple of youtube videos on how to do a bow draw but hadn't tried it yet, and I just looked one up with an example of that bow rudder/rudder brace, which was an impressively quick turn without losing all your forward momentum. I hadn't even heard of that one before, so thanks for pointing it out!

Wobble on edge
Often means that you just haven’t quite felt the edge on that particular boat - yet. Once you have your own and spend time in it, it’ll have a firmer feel.

There is NO shame in capsizing when trying to aggressively edge a boat - it means you are getting well over. The usual beginner mistake is to fail to reach the edge out of fear. Capsizing means you are learning.

rounded foam = highpoint in the middle

– Last Updated: Aug-20-13 7:11 AM EST –

and usually isn't matching your leg outline, along with being too narrow.
Hi...well I haven't kayaked in years(canoe guy), but I remember that sanding down the stock stuff and adding both wide closed cell..shaping it to be a wide, smooth fit for your leg(s) at the point there they contact the foam...and adding layer of neoprene foam(glueing in small but multiple areas) would do the trick. Remember your legs, when meeting the foam padding, are also meeting the density/weight of the you attempt to do anything such as simply adjusting for balance....etc.
Keep the padding wide and getting the angle(s) correct for a flat fit against your legs = comfort + efficient. The thin, round pads are always the cheap, off-the-shelf, way manufacturers try not to turn off some...LOL.