Uncomfortable Sea Kayak Question

Hey everyone!

I have an Impex Currituck kayak. I can only paddle it for about 20 minutes at a time before my feet go completely numb or start to cramp up. I think this is because I cant move my legs at all.

Any suggestions as to what can help this problem? Different seat, modifying kayak to give my legs more room to move, or buy a different boat??

Any input appreciated.

Your size?

– Last Updated: Apr-16-14 11:12 AM EST –

Or do you have a big shoe size? It might be that the boat is too tight. But it may also be that you are wedging yourself in.

Some people start out thinking that they have to be locked into the thigh braces all the time, hard. That is not the case. The thigh braces should be easily reachable, but you should be able to sit with your legs relaxed along the bottom of the boat. Maybe you should check where you have the foot pegs set as well - they may be too close to allow you movement in your legs. You should have enough length that you can feel alternate relaxation then pressure when you "pedal" with your legs to help rotation in the forward stroke.

You may also need to flatten out the front edge of your seat a bit. The usual concept of an ergonomic seat does not work for me - it aggravates my sciatic nerve. I have to cut away foam to get the front ledge flatter and less cupped to be comfortable in a kayak.

It sounds as though
there is a nerve being impinged. It is likely to be the seat is pressing on a nerve, or limiting circulation. What Celia pointed out is that static stress on the anatomy can cause fairly significant (hopefully, short term) injury and locking oneself into the boat too tightly can certainly aggravate things.

In any case, I’d start with the seat and then look at the foot braces. It seems likely to be an edge of the seat issue. If so, it may be resolved with a fairly modest adjustment to the angle between the seat and thigh.

It would be nice to have some type of indicator that revealed the points where your body makes contact with the boat to see where stresses might be highest, but I don’t have a working idea for how to do that. I’m giving it some thought, but don’t have an answer yet.


check out an article
There is an article on outfitting your boat - seats ion California Kayaker Magazine issue #4. Can be read online for free at http://www.calkayakermag.com/magazine.html. Talks about this.

The other side is flexibility. If you can work on your flexibility, especially hamstrings, that would help a lot also.

A nerve on both sides? Usually with
pressure on a nerve, only one side will show symptoms. If both, there should be an asymmetry.

Based on my own experience as one who kneels to pray in boats, I think this is a circulatory issue.

Nerve issues, I have on one side, of my neck.

Tight fit?
If you are having a really tight fit, take a look at the outfitting that is present. You can replace the foot pegs with minifoam bulk head or an inflatable foot pad made for white water kayaks. That lets you move your feet more. Also try using just surf booties or barefoot so you can move your feet more and wiggle your toes.

Legs going numb after just a half hour is more likely an issue with the seat. you can try tilting it forward, putting some paddling under your thighs or taking the whole thing out and putting in a lower home made seat made of minifoam and shaped to fit your butt. I have a small bony butt and had similar problems when I first started kayaking. The solution for me was to shape my own seats.

Are you tense because you feel the boat is tippy? Some people tense up their lower body, that may be an issue to, learn to dance with the boat, practice side surfing in small waves, and paddling in haystacks ect and learn to let the boat move under you.