Is ‘No Pain, No Gain’ Always True in Kayak Fishing?

This article first appeared on the PAINLESS KAYAK FISHING blog.

Everyone knows the motto ‘no pain, no gain’, and most people assume it’s true for kayak fishing as well – with a twist: Kayak fishing involves spending long hours seated in the infamous L position, which tends to become literally painful after some time.
But does it really have to be so?
-Not if you get a W fishing kayak, as these new, patented watercraft don’t require their passengers to sit in the L kayaking position to begin with, and they offer a variety of other, more comfortable positions to switch between – anytime, including standing up in full confidence – that is for real, and not as some wishful thinking kayak manufacturers advertise…

So, next time you’re seated in a fishing kayak in the L position, with your own legs relentlessly pushing your lower back against your kayak seat, and causing you discomfort and pain, remember it doesn’t have to be so, and you have an alternative, finally.

Yak Back Pain: The Eight Hundred Pound Gorilla In The Room

This article first appeared on the PAINLESS KAYAK FISHING blog.

The eight hundred pound gorilla in a market for a certain product is the biggest player in that market, and the eight hundred pound gorilla in the room is an expression that means the obvious problem no one is talking about.

As with everything related to sit-in and SOT kayaks, that problem in kayak fishing is poor ergonomics, especially back pain and discomfort that prevent many anglers from joining the ranks of kayak anglers, and causing a considerable number of kayak anglers to quit the sport once they realize the problem is intolerable for them, and there is nothing they can effectively do about it.

These ergonomic problems are often discussed in private, or in online forums, but usually the attitude towards them is either acceptance, as something that’s inherently part of the sport (like getting wet is supposed to be), or as a personal problem of the person complaining about it, and one that can be superficially addressed with some extra foam under the knees, or on top of the kayak seat.

Manufacturers and other vendors of sit-in and SOT kayaks have identified these serious ergonomic problems, and use them as an opportunity to sell more gear – mainly expensive kayak seats with extra cushioning and varying angles for the backrest, none of which can in fact solve any of the problems in question.

Sit-in kayaks have been used for centuries, and SOT kayaks have been commercially available for over four decades. Had there been a way to solve this problem that comes with the use of these kayaks, it would have been discovered and offered to the public. But there is no such solution, because of the L position and the footrests-backrest system designed to allow modern kayak paddlers and anglers to stay in place and exert control over their kayak through their legs continuously pushing their lower back against the backrest.
This means that as long as a kayak passenger is required to sit with their legs stretched in front of them, there will be a need for them to use footrests and a backrest, as well as use their legs to push their back against the backrest – constantly, thus creating pressure in the lumbar area – resulting in discomfort and pain.

In contrast, the new W kayaks present a solution that frees both paddlers and anglers from back pain, due to these kayaks’ patented form, which requires their passengers neither to sit in the L position, nor to use any type of footrests, or backrest.
W kayak passengers are free to switch between a number of ergonomic positions anytime they choose to do so, and even stand up if they feel like paddling or fishing standing, or just in order to stretch. The new W500 series is stable enough to enable the passenger to lie down and rest, stretch, and relax.

Over the years, reporters and editors in publications that cover kayaking and kayak fishing have systematically avoided reporting about either this critical ergonomic problem, or the real solution recently found to it.
Talking openly about that eight hundred pound gorilla in the room would have surely annoyed the kayak market’s eight hundred pound gorilla, as well as the smaller players, who pay for advertising their kayaks and kayak seats in those specialized publications.

Meanwhile, a large part of the public is still unaware of the solution offered to their kayaking and kayak fishing problem, and they are not getting this information from the paddling or fishing media.

More Foam in the Backrest of Your Kayak Seat – Is This the Solution For Your Back Pain?

This article first appeared on the PAINLESS KAYAK FISHING blog.

Can more foam padding in your kayak seat backrest help protect your lumbar spine, and prevent back problems?

This article on Kayaks and Lumbar Spine Problems explains in detail how the basic sitting position in kayaks (the L position) combined with backrest and footrests is the very cause of the discomfort and pain you feel in lower back.
Padding your seat with additional foam can make you feel better for a while, but it doesn’t solve the problem, really. The reason is that what pushes your lumber spine against the back of your seat (backrest) is the most powerful set of muscles in your body, which are your own legs:
Your legs are powerful enough to propel you over long distances, even at running speed, and they can also lift your entire body up in the air, when you’re jumping.
When you’re seated in your kayak in the L position, your legs act as two two powerful pistons constantly pushing your unprotected lower back backwards, against your kayak seat’s backrest. This pressure is concentrated on a few vertebrae, since there are no other bones in this area of your body, and there are no big muscles to protect them.
In other words, although the forces in action are smaller than the force required to support your body (I.E. equivalent to your body weight), they are in the same range.
The more intense your paddling and the more tense your body is, the more power is required to keep your body in its position in, or on top of your kayak.
This means that if you’re tired or uncomfortable, you body becomes tense, and your legs need to work harder to keep you in place, which means they have to increase the pressure on the lower part of your back, that is your lumber spine.

That is to say that foam doesn’t present a good solution to your back pain problem to begin with, and since foam has a tendency to compress over time, even the initial, temporary relief you may feel will vanish after a while.

By the way, if you’re heavy, you’re likely to feel discomfort and pain in your butt too, after sitting in your kayak in the L position. Foam won’t help much in your case because it will get compressed, as will the nerves in this part of your body. Compressed nerves are at the source of phenomena well known to kayak paddlers and anglers, such as leg numbness, leg pain, and butt pain.
This discomfort and pain is not a trivial matter at all, once you start feeling it.

In sum, nearly all sit-in and sit-on-top (SOT) kayaks today are outfitted with foam padded seats, and still, most paddlers and anglers who use these kayaks feel one or more of the following symptoms: Premature fatigue, sore back, leg numbness, leg pain, sore butt etc., and therefore seek a break, in order to stretch, and ‘un-kink’.

In comparison, the basic paddling position in W kayaks is the Riding Position, and it’s similar to the position of being mounted on horseback. In this position, your legs comfortably help you support your body weight, and take part in your balancing, paddling, controlling and fishing efforts.
In addition, this new type of kayak offers you to switch anytime to a number of other positions, including Sitting (similar to being seated in a canoe) and Standing Up. This means you can stretch, relax and stay comfortable for considerably longer periods of time, without attaining a situation where any part of your body would ache.

Kayak Angler’s Reflexions on Kayak Fishing, Old Age, and Sore Backs

This article first appeared on the PAINLESS KAYAK FISHING blog.

The following paragraph is taken from a new kayak fishing trip report written by Florida kayak angler Jeff McGovern:

A really remarkable thing that struck me about this whole day was the comfort we had fishing from these boats.  None of us are young men –I am the youngest at 55, both Ed and Gary are the 70 year old range.  Between us there have been back issues ranging from simple sciatic problems to major surgeries.  To a man, the W500 is a boat we could use easily and comfortable.  In any other fishing kayaks, our range would not have been as great and there would have been many more stops to get out for unkinking.  This trip was only the start.  There will be many more to come, fishing the waters off  Florida’s west coast in the world’s most comfortable and fishable paddle craft.”

The important point is that elderly kayak anglers may be more aware of health problems, including back pain, leg pain etc., as they’ve had more opportunities to experience such problems, but young kayak anglers and paddlers should be aware of those things as well, since sooner or later they will experience them to some extent.

That is to say that prevention is the best cure, and if you feel uncomfortable paddling a sit-in or SOT kayak or fishing from such a kayak, it’s basically because it’s not a well designed watercraft, and sooner or later it would make you feel worse: Those things don’t just go away by themselves, and more padding in your seat and below your knees may provide you with a momentary illusion of relief, but they can’t and won’t solve your problem.

Read Jeff’s entire kayak fishing report

Paddling Kayaks Can Cause Back Pain, But Apparently Canoes Are Problematic Too

This article first appeared on the PAINLESS KAYAK FISHING blog.

This is  W kayak review from a Canadian canoeist who has suffered from back pain:

-“The most important thing for me is that I can ride the [W] kayak “straddled” [I.E. in the Riding Position] with my knees bent. I have a back condition that has made the past few years of using a regular canoe painful after a short time out. I must always kneel in a canoe because I cannot sit with my legs straight out in front of me without causing back pain.
I still can use the canoe but am limited to about 1/2 hour before I need to hit the beach and get out and stretch. Your design is much easier on my back and I can easily turn around when I need to stretch a bit.”

Read the entire review >>