Transition from Rec to Sea Kayak

Hello fellow paddlers! I believe what I’m looking for is some verification from you all on a thought I have about kayak fit. I’ll try to be as concise as possible.

I jumped from a recreational kayak (Perception Swtify 9.5, Eddyline Skylark) to a touring kayak (P&H Scropio MKII LV) in a short period of time. My goal is long-distance touring and being a smaller paddler (Male, 125lb, 5’8", 27" waist) the Scropio specs and storage looked to fit what I was looking for. I wasn’t able to test paddle it as I don’t live in a place that has boats like this. I absolutely understand that is the best way to test out a boat. I previously did a short paddle with a Perception Expression 14.5, which is definitely closer than any of the rec boats.

It feels like I made a big jump! I notice how it has feels a lot more difficult as I have less back support and have to really keep myself upright with my core and legs. My lower back feels so weak! I suck! The LV also seems like it forces me to keep a more upright posture as I have less room for my legs. I don’t feel used to less room for my legs right now coming from something very roomy. I believe that made me slack a lot on proper form which created a bad habit. Honestly, it’s not the most comfortable thing right now but I have been stretching, doing yoga, and rolling to help. I also realize I have only had 2 trips with it which is nothing.

My question (or seeking affirmation) is this kind of thing common with a fast transition like this? Will this get better with time? I have no problem knowing that it’s going to take time along with stretching/etc. but I also want to make sure that it’s just me and not the boat. I don’t have a group of people to ask around here so I just want to verify that my body sucks and that patience is all it is!
Thanks for your time.

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Yes. It’s all about seat time. Your body should adapt .


We all hate to hear it, but it sounds like a core muscle group issue. Keep doing what you can to strengthen your core muscles and I will bet paddling becomes easier as your lower back will get used to being in a better posture position.

I use an exercise ball and sit on it to roll around on it at home - easy to do while watching a TV show or movie. Sit up straight and attempt to move only your hips by disconnecting your hips from the upper body. Your upper body should remain in the good upright posture position. Start with 10 rotations clockwise, then counterclockwise. After a couple days, add a couple more reps.

I haven’t done these in over a month so thanks for your question - I’m off to find my exercise ball right now for a quick set.


You will be fine, is a normal kind of adjustment.

Honestly also necessary. You can go further in a given paddle in the sea kayak because it is likely faster. Which means if you don’t strengthen your core, you will have the world’s biggest back ache at the end of a long day.

Seat fit is a bit personal. In general many people find they need to stretchespecially guys.

But it is not one approach fits all. For ex l actually had to cut away some foam that was in one of my boats that was there to create a supposedly more ergonomic angle. And It probably was ergonomic for most people. But for me all that seat angle did was to make my sciatica start screaming after an hour and a half or two no matter what. Not a problem l had in my other boat with anything but an ergonomic seat.

I cut away the foam, flattened the seat and it was hugely better immediately.

So you may ultimately want to mess w the fit a little. But initially you just have to reconfigure your own position.

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Seats are such a personal thing, what fits one person may be torture to another. I ended up replacing the one that came on my boat with a Redfish, back band adjustment wasn’t enough. I do not lay back and paddle but it works well for some.

You should be able to move the footpegs forward. Feel free to experiment with removing the molded thigh braces; you need to lock in but sounds like they are in your way.

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I appreciate the exercise ball advise. I use one a lot so I can easily add this to my regime during down time as you suggested. Thanks!

Thank you and good to know. I actually had sciatica back in February/March so I can relate to the issue you described. Stretching has been helping a lot. I thought I had a strong back from being a runner but how wrong I was, how very wrong.

Yoga classes, 3 to 5 times a week, helps maintain my quads, back, core, shoulder strength, balance, improved breathing while paddling …
My age group loses bone density, strength, flexibility (and the kind of muscle power needed for endurance) much too easily.

I’ve sometimes wondered if the core work around running may lock up parts of the anatomy that need to be flexible when seated with your legs out straight as in a kayak. Look for kayak specific stretches that focus on hip flexors and hamstrings.

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Interesting that you say that. I’ve been running about 24 years now and I’d say you’re right. It creates a lot of inflexibility in the hip/torso area, which I am now working on with my left back. The great thing is that I am now not ignoring all the issues that I have been putting off for years because I can’t with paddling. I am doing so much more stretching that it will now benefit both sports for the better. It’s work but I love activities (like running and paddling) that require patience and dedication to the craft.

As a 25 year paddler and much longer time runner & bicycler, the hammies and IT band are always an issue for me. Core exercises and yoga help.

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One thing I have consistently noticed over the years in inviting friends to paddle with me (I always have had multiple touring kayaks to loan them): those who were avid road cyclists and runners both seemed to become the most uncomfortable the fastest out in a kayak. They all seemed to be plagued with tight hamstrings and inflexible lower backs and hipjoints. I learned that I need to keep a few inflatable lumbar pillows with me to offer them to prop them in the cockpits when their tendency to slump against the seat back ends up causing them pain.


Good to know!

Interesting, I think I’m going to give a shot on a long day.

I agree with Kevburg. You MIGHT need to do something with the seat. Not saying that for sure. Keep at it maybe you will adjust just fine. I have had to change or modify a few seats in my time. The back band mostly. The scorpio is a nice boat.

I’d give the seat some time. Technique, posture, and miles are what are needed at first like you said. If the seat is still uncomfortable once you get the feel for the boat, then consider dealing with it. I’ve only ever had one boat (Anas Acuta) that had an uncomfortable seat, and it was pure torture compared to the others I’ve owned. It’s now my most comfortable seat ever after some experimenting.

You’re correct. An instructor at our local YMCA challenged a new class to compare the sports injury records for Dan Marino vs John Elway. She asked us to guess which one practiced Yoga? :thinking:

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A short chunk of firm foam pool noodle can act as a lumbar support. Also, a short piece of closed cell foam (like a 2’ section of cheap yoga mat) folded and placed under your thighs to raise them can help with lower back pain if your seat is not adjustable.

Fancy seats are over-rated. The kayak I most often use (a skin on frame Eskimo style) doesn’t even have a seat. It has a Snapdragon lumbar back band and I sit on a piece of Ensolite (old backpacking sleeping pad) folded in half directly inside the hull. I can paddle for hours on that with no discomfort. Sometimes a molded seat forces you into a straining position that isn’t compatible with your body structure.

Strong abs help a lot and can mitigate some of the sitting problems. A lot of cyclists I know don’t have good ab tone.


Great suggestions! Def. will try some of these and appreciate the advice, very helpful.

I agree with many that more time in the boat may solve many of the discomfort problems. It’s often just getting your body used to the position and motion of paddling. My boat tortured me when I first started paddling, but after a month or so things improved to the point where I was comfortable and able to put in 8 hours or more in the boat.

For some though, additional lumber or thigh support can help. A seat pad may help also.

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