Misled

Kayak and your back

15 posts in this topic

Hi guys, I'll be renting one in April, probably a few times, to see if I dig it and if my back can take it.  Has anyone had back issues and still able to fish on your kayak?  What things should I look for?  specific seats, sit on top vs in?  Just looking for tips so that I give it a fair assessment.  thx

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Everyone has different issues, depending on what part of your back hurts.  Switching to a pedal kayak resolved most of my back issues and makes my back stronger when not kayaking.

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Take Motrin or similar a couple hours  before you start. When paddling, instead of pulling with your low hand, try to push with your high hand, much easier on the back. If your back starts to hurt catch a fish, and all the pain will disappear.

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There are really 3 things to consider when kayak fishing if you have back problems:

  1. The actual time you are in your kayak paddling/pedaling and fishing.
  2. Loading the kayak on and off your vehicle.
  3. Moving your kayak to and from your vehicle to the water or storage.

The right equipment and technique can solve a lot of potential issues, but it's best to consider all of these in light of your particular challenges.

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With sit ins you are locked into one position and cannot move around much to relieve back pressure/pain.  Most are not set up to carry rods, tackle, and other equipment.  There are a lot of sit on tops for fishing and the seating is usually more flexible.  Sit ons though are usually heavier but carts are availlable to move them around. Try both and the difference should be obvious.

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As we age it becomes more important to stretch. Also check out some you tube videos for proper paddling techniques.  Kayak weights also vary tremendously. Sit in kayaks start around 30 lbs  and sit on top kayaks can go from 45lbs to 145lbs.  Good luck with your decision.

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6 hours ago, cheech said:

Take Motrin or similar a couple hours  before you start. When paddling, instead of pulling with your low hand, try to push with your high hand, much easier on the back. If your back starts to hurt catch a fish, and all the pain will disappear.

To elaborate on Cheech's is good point, learning to paddle properly is an important part of this. Done wrong you're just using your arms, done right you're actually rotating your entire torso and using all the muscle groups to your knees. This will build up your core strength.

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If you have sciatica, it will reek havoc on your lower back, I've locked up a few times almost unable to crawl out. I'm only 31, it sucks. I usually try to stretch every 20 minutes or so. Do some seated toe touches, high arm stretches, trunk twists etc. Aleve or motrin help, but you gotta move a bit. If car topping, do NOT twist and lift. In a haste I did that once, out of commission for two weeks almost. 

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Paddling technique mentioned above a huge part. Make sure to learn how to paddle.

 

Loading/transporting can cause strains before you even start because the kayak is so large and . See above awkward.

 

I have intermittent back issues and can feel it in the kayak. I switched to a kayak with a much better seat for one thing. I also stop every few hours to get out of the kayak and move around and stretch.

 

I have stretches and strengthening exercises I should be doing at home and I don't. I know I need to do them but I just don't think about it until I'm feeling back pain doing something. I am going to start doing better with this.

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awesome guys, great info, thank you very much. 

 

I don't have constant back pain and I can lift and do heavy rows (at least when I went to the gym) with no issues but do get lower back pain and stiffness after a day of heavy lifting at work.  I did lock up once and this is what got me thinking "what if I lock up while on the water" or will Kayaking worsen the discomfort. 

 

Your excellent info and suggestions are putting me at ease so I'll take it slow and build up along with learning proper loading/unloading and paddling techniques.   

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I have had issues over the years "tweaking" my lower back out.  Also,besides muscle stuff...which doesn't get better as I get fatter...there is the normal degradation of your discs in your spine.  Just a fact of biology and aging.

I decided early on that I was not going for a heavy kayak as much as I wanted a pedal kayak.  They can be very heavy.

My roto-molded paddle kayak (WS Tarpon 120) is 63 pounds stock...probably  65 now with a few extra mounts and stuff attached.

I would NOT want to be lifting very much more than that.  Yeah- you have carts...but if you're car-topping, you still have to be able to get the sucker on and off your roof comfortably...in wind...and on slopes sometimes.  The cart isn't going to put it up there for you obviously.

Gelflex has a kayak that's even lighter...the Eddyline.

Some guys are stronger and younger...some use a truck bed or a trailer.

There are a bunch of factors in play that everyone seems to balance out for themselves.

 

The Thule Hull-a-Vator roofrack will help you lift a kayak from waist height to the roof.  Expensive. ($600 or so)

Guys develop specific techniques for loading the kayak on a roof...as long as you can do that comfortably without injury repeatedly, that's good.

 

There are exercises you can do when seated in the kayak to make yourself feel better.  I forget what they are . :) You can look it up.

Helps to get to shore every hour or so and walk around a bit.

 

One last bit of advice is when you buy...buy used...or at least discount/demo.

A test-paddle is different than being out there all day.

If you find that you can't tolerate the kayak after two trips, at least you won't lose money when you resell on craigslist.

Plus, someone else has already put the first scratches in it so you don't have to feel bad about doing that yourself.

Once you know exactly what you like, go ahead and buy new if you have the $$$.

Also, if you are like me, you will bang your kayak up a bit while you learn how to load and unload in varying conditions over the first month or so.

Maybe I'm just a klutz.

Sucks to bang up a new boat with newbie mistakes.

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On 3/30/2019 at 10:21 AM, Misled said:

awesome guys, great info, thank you very much. 

 

I don't have constant back pain and I can lift and do heavy rows (at least when I went to the gym) with no issues but do get lower back pain and stiffness after a day of heavy lifting at work.  I did lock up once and this is what got me thinking "what if I lock up while on the water" or will Kayaking worsen the discomfort. 

 

Your excellent info and suggestions are putting me at ease so I'll take it slow and build up along with learning proper loading/unloading and paddling techniques.   

Im pretty active at the gym, I notice my lower back hurts more when I don't go (office job btw).  I mention this in hopes you may notice a similar trend.

 

As other mentioned and is the case for me as well, stretching is super important.  Specifically the hamstrings which are the main cause of peoples back pain.  Sitting in a kayak is different than sitting in a chair because your sitting in an 'L' position which stretches your hamstrings and strains your lower back.  The good news is a week of regular stretching should alleviate most strain if you're in good health.

 

I also know a few people with chronic (upper) back pain that are able to kayak and even paddle.  With the right maintenance kayaking can have similar results to physical therapy....Just put the time in and stretch.

 

 

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Not a bad looking yak in Job lot for 299.00    Sit in 12.6'     they had others also SOT

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Posted (edited) · Report post

I had back issues for years (well over a decade). Sucked. Not just my back but my neck, 2 recurring herniated discs, upper back pain, lower back pain, leg pain, knee pain, etc. A few years ago I started working out again. Yup, started at planet fitness with the wife (dragged my fat butt kicking and screaming) and after a few months of that, realized I was not going anywhere on treadmills and exercise bikes and got back into real power lifting with a barbell. Updated my home gym with a newer power rack, barbells, and 1K of iron. Since, have had no back issues. Sure, can get a little sore with extreme activities but not from boating, kayaking, hiking, or other recreational activities.

 

I workout 2-3 times per week at 45-60 minute sessions and my body thanks me for it. Focus on core exercises and not the fad based stuff or cardio that does not increase strength. A good read and program is starting strength with Mark Rippatoe. Without trying to sound like an infomercial, doing this changed my health for the better and a pivotal part of my life. Stronglifts 5x5 is another good program. I used to take ibuprofen daily, like it was a vitamin or something. Now, I can't remember the last time I have had any. Recently also purchased a C2 rower and OMG - that will give you an awesome full body workout worthy of your time. 

 

Everyone is different though and some ppl do nothing and are naturally ok with no exercise, some have more serious medical or health issues, so just explaining what worked for me. Cheers!

Edited by NHAngler

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