Kayaks’ sub-par ergonomics are putting thousands of kayak anglers in harm’s way, a problem that is easily surmountable by switching to a more ergonomic kayak such as the W fishing kayak.
There are a variety of dangers associated with using a traditional kayak:
First, there’s the peril of being unable to paddle back to shore due to fatigue or exhaustion.
In addition, anglers who are elderly or inexperienced, or just plain tired, can be at risk from outside hazards outside of their control such as strong wind or tidal current. If kayaking in your traditional kayak makes you tired quickly, consider switching to something more comfortable, with better tracking and easier paddling, namely a Wavewalk kayak.
Seasonal problems, such as overheating in summer, and hypothermia in winter, are also big threats, since they drain your energy and make it difficult or even impossible to return to shore.
Traditional kayaks that expose the user to the elements are costly both on your health and your wallet, for when buying extra gear such as dry suits to protect yourself you are potentially forking up hundreds of unnecessary dollars. Other heavy clothing, such as boots and waders, can disable you from swimming, and from getting back into your boat, or kayak, a very precarious situation to say the least.
Paddlers of traditional fishing kayaks are also susceptible to cramps, leg numbness and even partial paralysis, a problem that is virtually nonexistent in the W Kayak.
Leg cramps can be very painful and long-lasting if you can’t stand up safely in your craft to loosen up. Sit-in and SOT kayaks restrict you to sitting in an L shape, with your legs forced forward and clamped by footrests. Paddling or fishing in this position for extended period of time all but guarantees the onset of cramps and leg numbness, a very uncomfortable paddling experience.
Both leg pain and leg numbness also prevent you from balancing and maneuvering your kayak efficiently, a very dangerous dilemma.
Pain in your back and butt can compromise your paddling ability. Moreover, you might find yourself near shore but still unable to beach your kayak, or get out of it, as Don, this California kayak angler describes in his kayak review:
“I fished for 8 years in the “L” sitting position and it’s effect on my back is what finished standard kayaking for me… One day I beached the bow of that 16 footer and was still about 10-12 feet out in the water where I was sitting. I discovered I couldn’t move my legs. Getting out of that thing without causing all kinds of laughter from spectators was one of my greatest physical accomplishments. I was sure I’d avoid those scenarios with the”W”, and I could hardly wait to find out all the wonderful differences.” Read this entire kayak review >>
Examples like this are very common, many regular kayakers report experiencing similar discomforts with their sit-in and SOT kayaks. Many kayakers and kayak anglers have become so accustomed to this stiffness that they regularly stop their paddling and fishing just climb ashore and ‘unkink’. ‘Unkinking’ basically means stretching and allowing some reprieve for the tensed back and sore legs. This hassle is completely unnecessary when using the W Kayak because the user can easily stretch within the spacious confines of the craft itself, allowing you to finish uninterrupted and comfortably. So in order to enjoy more hours of kayak fishing without the pain, danger, and hassle of traditional SOT and sit-in kayaks, make the switch to the W Kayak, and if you want, learn more about kayak fishing pains on Wavewak’s website.
The term “Lumbar Support” is one of the most prominent subjects of the Kayak Fishing back pain discourse. This topic mainly arises in those discussions with the consensus that the lumbar spine needs support, which will consequently alleviate back pain.
What Is The Lumbar Spine?
The dictionary definition states that lumbar is:
▸ adj: [pertaining to] or near the area of the back between the ribs and the hip bones . “Lumbar vertebrae”
The lumbar spine consists of the stiff vertebrae and flexible cartilage of the lower spine. This area holds the weight of the upper body, and is supported by the hip bones.
Therefore, nothing holds, pushes, or supports the lumbar spine from any direction except from the top and bottom when in its normal position.
How did the Lumbar Spine turn into a Problem for Kayakers?
The first kayakers, native Arctic people, sat on the floor of their kayak with outstretched legs, eliminating the need for lumbar spine support. For this reason native kayaks did not have a backrest, or any other means of support.
When Westerners began using aboriginal kayaks they realized they had trouble staying upright with their legs stretched forward, in the L position. This is due they to the lack of sitting in this way in everyday life, and the muscles in their body were not adjusted. Rather than adjusting the passenger to the kayak, manufacturers and designers decided to change the kayak to match the paddler, introducing a system of back and foot rests engineered to clasp the kayaker in the L position, preventing the upper body from moving backwards or sliding forwards.
The kayaker is supported by three non moving points in the kayak: two footrests and a back rest. By constantly pushing against those points, the kayakers legs give the force needed to keep the body in place.
How Does the L Posture Affect the Lumbar Spine?
The legs have the most powerful muscles in your body, allowing you to run, jump, e.t.c. When you are stuck in the L position, your legs are constantly pushing against the kayak’s footrests, and against the lumbar spine, which is held in place by the backrest behind it. The hard, constant pressure on your lumbar spine comes at an unnatural angle, that is caused by the backrest. There is no solution to ease this pressure, when seated in this format, which is also the only possible posture allowed by Sit-On-Top kayaks and Sit-in kayaks.
In other words, when paddling or fishing from a kayak, the only solution to relieve this stress and pain is to leave the kayak and stretch.
How Does it Lead to Pain, and to the ‘Yak Back’ Syndrome?
Leaving the kayak to abate pressure on your lumbar spine is not a pliable option in most situations, and this is why most kayak anglers and paddlers continue to sit in their kayaks braving growing discomfort, and pain in their back.
This pain known as ‘Yak Back‘, is experienced by most kayak fishermen and paddlers who use their boat for longer than an hour. This pain is caused by pressure on the cartilage, and muscles in this area, as a result of the force they have to exert to stop spine injuries, or to at least lessen the severity
Try to imagine this situation as a fight between the very strong legs shoving your lumbar spine back against the backrest, and the less powerful muscles in the lower back that are attempting to protect the spine, and avert it from being injured.
Luckily, your body will warn you of this, in the form of pain. The pain will tell you to stop this unhealthy “battle” between your legs and your back, before you get seriously injured.
Disregarding this pain will lead to an increase in the severity of the problem, resulting in more pain, and ultimately to a more severe back injury.
How much force do your legs exert on your lumbar spine in the L Position?
We have measured the force as anywhere between forty and sixty pounds.
To measure this pressure by yourself, position a bathroom scale upright between your lumbar spine the backrest of your kayak. Sit i your kayak as you would normally, and have someone read the dial for you.
Even worse than this huge amount of pressure is that it is constant and unavoidable.
More alarming than the total pressure is the pressure per area measurement, which would be alarming.
Correct Paddling Form, Cushioning Your Seat, and the Truth of Back Pain and Spinal Injury
Kayaking and kayak fishing instructors will tell you to sit straight as to better your kayaking style and perform more efficient torso rotations. Despite this, you must remember that the people who initially created and polished this style did not have backrests, as they did not need them. Therefore, theses first kayakers did not suffer from ‘Yak Back’ .
In general, polishing your kayaking style will not improve the situation in your back: You will continue to experience discomfort and pain, and still be at risk of spinal damage.
The clear reason for this is due to the fact that your legs will keep pushing your back.
Sit-in and SOT kayak vendors will offer to “upgrade” your kayak to the latest “user friendly” seat, that is certain to be more expensive. Vendors will praise the extra cushioning of the seat on your hips and lumbar spine, claiming that these seats will nullify fatigue, leg numbness, and back pain.
In reality, special kayak seats, that have been around for decades,have never produced the wanted effect of ending Yak Back. These seats don’t work, because all kayaks have a backrest by definition. No amount of cushioning will lessen the amount of force that your legs exert when they push that backrest against your back.
These seats can be counterproductive, as the soft cushioning can lessen the pressure on softer tissues in your lower back, like skin, delaying the feeling of discomfort and pain in your back, and in its supporting muscles. The problem will surface when it as a more advanced stage, which is dangerous, from a health stand point.
What Your Lumbar Spine Needs When You Kayak Fish
Of course you must avoid kayak fishing and paddling while in the L position, because it is harmful to your health, and sitting for long periods of time can lead to back injuries and long-term back pain.
So, what is the ideal kayak?
The ideal kayak would always be comfortable, and not damaging to your lumbar spine. But does such a kayak exist?
Indeed a kayak that matches those criteria exists. The Wavewalk Fishing Kayak has no backrest, and instead has a saddle; This saddle is similar to that of a bike’s, snowmobile’s, and horse’s saddle, as well as that of many other’s. The common factor in these examples is that your own legs support body. This factor is great for your lumbar spine, as no unnatural pressure points are present.
Secondly, the saddle seat of the Wavewalk Kayak offers a multitude of different stances, such as stand-up, and the option to change between two stances at any given time. Therefore, whatever ailment you feel in your back, or pressure in any part of your body can be relieved at your whim.
As a result, kayak anglers and paddlers, who suffer back problems, say that even after spending lots of time in their Wavewalk kayaks do not feel discomfort or pain. Reports on this can be found in fishing kayak reviews, where these anglers and paddlers state that without their Wavewalk kayak, fishing or paddling from a kayak would be nigh on impossible.
Whether you are paddling or even pedaling a kayak, any setup consisting of footrests with a backrest will cause you soreness of some sort in the end because you’re stuck sitting in the uncomfortable L position. Remaining confined in the L position can eventually result in a condition dubbed ‘yak back’, as well as a multitude of other ailments including leg pain, leg numbness, butt pain (a.k.a. ‘yakass’), and many others.
Irrespective of how you use your kayak, the constant pressure your legs apply on your lumbar spine is an unhealthy thing that should be refrained from. However, this problem cannot be circumvented in any kayak that’s either a sit-in or sit-on-top kayak, so what do manufacturers of such kayaks do? They can’t overlook the problem, obviously, since doing so could damage their sales. Instead, they fallaciously advertise their deficient products as being comfortable, ergonomic etc., and they suppose that even if you took one of those kayaks for a 15-20 minute test ride, it would be improbable that you would notice the problem, as it usually takes a longer duration than that for the passenger to start observing noticeable soreness.
They’ll advertise fake features such as ‘new ergonomic design’, ‘improved lumbar support’ and any other amalgamation of buzz words that could relay a false sense of comfort, and deceive people into believing that their problem is solved.
Some kayak manufacturers go even further, and try to convince potential customers that their kayak is as comfortable as a real fishing boat, i.e. a motor boat, hoping that perhaps a few people would be tricked by their smoke and mirrors.
But since kayaking and kayak fishing trips almost always take substantially longer than average test rides, sooner rather than later you will find that the faux-comfort purported by the manufacturers of traditional kayaks is not real comfort, and you will experience serious ergonomic problems resultingly. In this case its very likely that you will give up relinquishing your kayak fishing hobby entirely, as many have done before, or suffer in silence as your kayak works against your very body. The only legitimate way to bypass this plethora of bodily ailments associated with kayak fishing is to switch to a W fishing kayak, as a growing number of kayak anglers have begun to do.
The L posture that most sit-in and SOT kayakers are accustomed to being forced into when they paddle diverges from the original Inuit kayak posture, in that these antecedent kayaker designed their kayaks with neither a backrest (lumbar support) nor footrests.
Backrest and footrests were initially adjoined to these watercraft by modern kayak designers and manufacturers to restrain the paddlers and anglers who use kayaks from shifting forward. However, the cost of this augmentation is that kayakers and kayak fishermen experience discomfort that eventually results in back pain, leg pain, leg numbness and an array of other issues.
The combination of footrests and backrest creates a frame against which your legs can push forward in order to inhibit you from sliding forward. Your legs have the most robust set of muscles in your body, and as a result of their pushing on the backrest, the backrest exerts a force back on you – that’s just simple physics. This results in an ergonomic nightmare for you as the user, because the majority of this pressure is exerted on your spinal column, a very sensitive region, especially in advanced age.
Basically, this position is named the L posture, dubbed so because your legs are forced forward in a manner resembling the letter, is abnormal to your body, as well as possibly harmful in the long term:
Anatomically, your spine is construed of rigid bones, separated by discs of flexible cartilage. This structure is optimal for supporting vertical loads and efforts usual to running, walking and standing up, but not for contending with horizontal pressure like that created by the L posture.
The above image demonstrates how this works: your own legs work against your back to support you in this posture while you’re paddling and fishing.
The worst of this is that you can’t adjust yourself to a different position because this is the sole position that sit-in and SOT designs will accommodate.
Despite designers’ and manufacturers’ attempts to alleviate this problem by cushioning their kayak seats, it is impossible to fully solve the problems created by this defective design in this manner because your spine in your lower back is the sole hard object between your pelvis and your rib cage, and no matter how much cushioning is added that’s exactly where the pressure will be focused.
Another complication generated by the L kayak posture is the vertical pressure on your tailbone and butt, as illustrated by this image:
The joint weight of your upper body with a portion of the weight of your thighs presses your posterior downwards, precisely in the region wherein your sciatic nerve is situated.
Here your legs cannot support this effort, but rather they do the opposite, and exasperate the problem.
This incessant pressure causes disruptions in the regular circulation of blood to your legs,which manifests itself as leg numbness and leg pain.
Additionally, it can also harm your lower back, as your legs push harder in vain, trying to change their position and relive the the pressure on the sciatic nerve.
This swath of problems elucidates clearly why so many people who use kayaks for touring and for fishing generally feel awkward in their kayaks, and why an abundant number of them suffer from back pain and back stress.
The L posture catalyzes fatigue, leads to leg and back pain, and all in all makes kayaking and kayak fishing an uncomfortable and is a disaster from an ergonomic design standpoint. The only way to fix this design flaw is to create a new design for fishing kayaks. So far the only solution to this problem is the W fishing kayak, and its new design.
I’ve learned that many product carry hidden costs, and fishing kayaks are not different.
Fishing kayaks can be expensive, and when you start adding the cost of all accessories you’ll find they actually cost much more.
Many purchases are embedded hidden costs, and buying a fishing kayak is no exception…
Factoring in the cost of accessories to an already pricey fishing kayak greatly elevates the price of the allegedly “cheap” product.
The cost of accessories, including kayak seats, rudders, racks, and outriggers, adds up to a sizable amount of money when heaped on even supposedly inexpensive kayaks:
• Kayak Seat: Spending $100–$200 on a kayak seat that won’t reduce kayak fishing back pain is a huge waste of money. Kayak seats can be so bad that many kayak anglers quit, due to extreme discomfort and chronic pain.
• Rudder: Why would you have to spend $200-$300 to be able to steer a fishing kayak when you should already be able to control it, as it is a vehicle? Rudders are annoying to use, slow, and are bogged down by weeds.
• Outriggers: Stability for $100 – $400, even when it should come automatically? Why would you spend money on that? Outriggers are an annoyance to install, slow you down, limit your fishing kayak’s mobility, and limit your fishing kayaks ability to maneuver. Also, outriggers are very heavy and cumbersome.
• Installing a rack that can cost upwards of Five Hundred Dollars,just to be able to transport your fishing kayak is ridiculous, and when mounted it takes up space that could be used for other utilities.
Rudders, racks, and outriggers are a nuisance to deal with, and kayak seats are lumbar killers. When you’re looking for fishing kayaks, don’t forget hidden costs of accessories.
So, why not buy a product that won’t have any of these hidden costs? A lack of a need for any of these extra products would lower the cost of a fishing kayak tremendously. The only fishing kayak that has no hidden costs is the W-500 fishing kayak, whose revolutionary new design get’s rid of any needs for extra accessories.