This article first appeared on the PAINLESS KAYAK FISHING blog.
Paddling a common kayak, be it a sit-on-top (SOT) kayak or a sit-in kayak (SIK) involves being seated in the non-ergonomic L position, and paddling it in the traditional kayaking style, the latter requiring typical, repetitive motion that can lead to various injuries.
Lower Back Pain
Traditional kayak paddling technique, a.k.a. kayaking is based on torso rotation initiated from your hips. This motion is impossible to perform while you’re leaning backward (“slouching”) and it’s best performed while you’re slightly leaning forward. The combination of leaning with continuous, repetitive rotation puts strain on the lower part of your spine, known as the lumber spine, as it must support the body even while rotating. What makes matters significantly worse is the fact that while your lumbar spine is constantly rotating, your legs compress it against the backrest of your seat in order to transmit your paddling effort from your paddle, through your body, and finally – to your kayak, so it can move forward through the water. This considerable force is applied constantly on your lower spine, an area that has no other bones to protect or support it.
Regardless of how much padding your so-called “ergonomic” kayak seat my have, you will always feel discomfort to some degree, as long as you paddle either sit-in or SOT kayaks.
Only W kayaks do not require that you be seated in the L position, and only W kayaks offer a wide range of paddling positions that you can switch to anytime you feel like it.The ability to introduce change into your posture offers to reduce stress levels from particular areas in the body, and provide relief. Similarly, the ability to stretch offered by the W kayak’s saddle is highly beneficial in this regard.
The L seated position in a kayak forces the lowest part of your spine, known as the tailbone, down onto the sciatic nerve, which is the largest nerve in the body. The sciatic nerve is formed by nerve roots coming out of the spinal cord in the lower back, and it runs from the lower back down through the buttocks to the feet.
Prolonged sitting in the L kayak position can result in pinching of the sciatic nerve. As a result, you will feel an acute pain starting deep in the rear that could travel down the leg.
Being unable to stand up, stretch, or even switch to another sitting position will increase the severity of the problem.
The rotator cuff is a group of tendons and muscles in your shoulder, which connect the upper arm (humerus) to the shoulder blade (scapula).
In kayaking, the rotator cuff has to withstand a great deal of torque (twisting motion), especially in turning maneuvers and control paddle strokes. Such force applied on the shoulder often results in injury in the the rotator cuff tendons and muscles.
Being able to change paddling positions and paddling styles is beneficial, as well as changing paddle strokes, but only W kayaks offer a variety of options that are sufficiently different from each other.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – Wrist Injury
Carpus is a word derived from the Greek word karpos, meaning ‘wrist’. The wrist joint is surrounded by a band of fibrous tissue that normally supports it. The Carpal Tunnel is tight space between this fibrous band and the wrist bone. The median nerve passes through the carpal tunnel and receives sensations from the thumb, index, and middle fingers.
Carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms include numbness and tingling of the hand in the distribution of the median nerve, that is the thumb, index, middle, and part of the fourth fingers. Carpal tunnel syndrome may be a temporary condition that completely resolves or it can persist and progress.
Traditional kayaking technique involves repeated, typical wrist flexion combined with torsion, and can often result in carpal tunnel syndrome. In order to minimize the risk for such injury to occur, you need to be able to change paddling styles and paddle strokes as often as you feel like, but the range of change and motion that common sit-in and SOT kayaks present is minimal.
Only W kayaks enable you to switch between a wide variety of paddling styles and paddle strokes, and paddle from totally different positions, including standing up.
Foot Pain and Ankle Pain
When you sit in a sit-in or sit-on-top kayak, your feet are positioned at an unnatural angle, and they serve to lock you in the kayak so that you’re well connected to it. This is especially true when you’re paddling and controlling the kayak, but it’s true for when you’re fishing as well.
This frequently leads to injuries known as Pain in the Arches (I.E. the arches of your feet), Achilles Tendon (in the back of your ankle), and Ankle pain.