For many longtime anglers retirement sounds like a golden chance to have as much free time as they want to follow their passion of fishing, boats, etc…
While this relaxed life appeases some retirees, for others it seems like their life is lacking some action – they want to do something extra that would add some more fun and excitement to their lives, and even bolster their income.
Here’s a few life long anglers who upon retirement opened their very own fishing kayak dealership:
Gene Andrews, High and Dry Kayaks – Florida
Gene Andrews, who retired several years ago, moved to Palm Coast, in Northeastern Florida, south of Jacksonville – the kayak fishing capital of the world, in order to pursue his passion of kayak fishing.
Due to the ubiquitous yak-back problem that afflicts many older anglers, Gene bought himself a W500, the only back pain free kayak out there. Gene fished from it contentedly and free of back pain, and eventually realized he could further his love of the Wavewalk Kayak by starting his own dealership where he could resell this fishing kayak locally.
Visit Gene’s website, High and Dry Kayaks, which sells W fishing kayaks in Palm Coast >>
Kayak fishing is viewed as an extreme sport by most people who fish from more traditional settings, i.e. motorboats and dry land. The factors that make kayak fishing relatively extreme are:
Compared to motorboats, fishing kayaks offer inadequate stability and they basic comfort. In addition, they fail to provide a real storage solution. Fishing kayaks are notoriously unstable, and are extremely uncomfortable, in comparison to motor boats.
The Unfulfilled Promise
Although tens of millions of Americans fish from motorboats, only one in a thousand fish out of a kayak. This is after more than a decade of hype about ‘kayak fishing being the fastest growing outdoors sport in America’. The fishing kayak’s promise was an inexpensive, easy to use, lightweight, car top boat. It also promised to deliver a sporty outdoor experience. The huge majority of US anglers followed neither kayak anglers nor kayak vendors’ hype. The growth in kayak fishing participation is much slower in recent years than it was in the beginning of the century. It is possible that the market matured. This is the result of participants being less enthusiastic, and a high rate of participants dropping out of the sport, which has been typical of kayak fishing since the beginning.
But kayak fishing is very uncomfortable if you’re fishing out of a sit-on-top (SOT) kayak, sit-in kayak, or a hybrid kayak. When you fish out of a W kayak, you experience a comfort that’s equal to that of fishing from a motorboat. Some W kayak fans may say it is more comfy.
The level of stability an angler benefits from when they fish out of a W500 kayak is equal to that offered by a typical small sized motorboat, namely that they don’t have to constantly balance the kayak. Fishing standing up is easy, and can be done with confidence, unlike all other fishing kayaks.
Only the W500 offers sufficient storage space that is dry and accessible, even for long fishing and camping trips that require carrying on board a lot of cumbersome gear that only canoes and small motorboats can carry.
Kayak Fishing In The Future
If kayak fishing has a future, it is not as an extreme sport. Kayak fishing’s future depends on it becoming a popular leisure activity that is comfortable and easy, namely, the future of kayak fishing is W kayak fishing.
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.
Experienced kayak angler from Florida, Jeff McGovern has made some observations:
“Yet another problem in fishing kayaks is shoulder pain, as some of my common kayak friends have talked about- they often communicate that they need to get multiple shoulder problems fixed. Certain anglers have deformities on their shoulders which can be immediate threats. His main problem is casting from his sit on top kayak, which is very painful for his shoulder. The awkward casting angles are painful for my friend as well as others, so he is forced to fish by standing in the water and wade fishing. My friend is twenty five, and there should be no way a product is so painful to use, even for very young people. Whereas conventional kayaks limit your kayak fishing abilities, my Wavewalk fishing kayak offers a tremendous advantage when I power cast. I’ve never had to experience the described pain in casting from the low L position, as my fishing kayak allows you to fish from a superior position.”
To get a better grasp of these problems, ask yourself these question:
Who in their right mind casts from docks or from large motorboats cast sitting with their legs perpendicular to their back? Who would subject themselves to this uncomfortable posture of their own volition, especially if less painful alternatives are available, like fishing standing up?
Of course no one fishes in the L posture while on land or in large boats, and no one has even considered it.
In different terms, this posture should never be considered suitable for kayak fishing, but conventional sit-in and sit-on fishing kayaks have no reasonable alternative. Anglers do not want to spend time and money with larger fishing boats, they must deal with this inconvenient hindrance to their enjoyment of kayak fishing, yo even be able to fish.”
As stated, conventional fishing kayaks all have this problem, so why not look towards the unconventional? The perfect fishing kayak would have an innovative new ability to use alternate postures. One such kayak comes to mind: The Wavewalk fishing kayak, mentioned in McGovern’s quote. This fishing kayak offers the ability to utilize new positions, like the riding and standing position, through its saddle, which allows for more powerful casting and a better overall experience when kayak fishing.
Research on lumbar support in kayaks, demonstrates that remaining seated in the L position with footrest/backrest combo creates tension that is greatly unhealthy for your back, and results in an excessive amount of discomfort and pain.
Cushioning the seat of your fishing kayak with extra padding may alleviate pain for a short while, but it fails to solve the dilemma in the long run. What pushes the Lumbar spine up against the backrest while in the L position is the strongest muscles in your body, your legs, which are perpendicular to your back and are pushing against the footrest: You don’t want something pushing against your back that can also propel you for long distances at running speeds, as well as lift your entire body of the ground when your jump.
Your legs act as a sort of piston when in the L position, slamming your back against the backrest of your fishing kayak. Since there are very few bones and no large muscles in the are where the backrest and back meet, all the pressure is focused on a small area, your lumbar spine.
The forces pressing against your back are almost equivalent to the force needed to support your body weight, to put the pressure in perspective.
The harder you paddle, cast, or do other activities that require your legs to keep you in place, the more pressure is applied to your lumbar, or on top of your fishing kayak.
The more tired your body becomes, and the more uncomfortable, the more tense you become, and the more your legs have to work to keep you stable and in place, greatly increasing the pressure on your Lumbar spine, as well as exponentially increasing the pain, and creating an endless circle of fatigue.
Foam does not provide a good solution to the lumbar spine problem to start off, and due to foams compressing over time tendency, initial temporary relief will vanish after a time, and will increase the back resistance, as there is less movement room between your back and legs.
Also, if you are a heavier person, you have the possibility of experiencing butt pain, or as it is more commonly know among kayak fishing circles, yak ass, after kayak fishing in the L position. The nerves in your body, and the foam of your seat, will both become as compressed as pancakes. Leg numbness, leg pain, and butt pain are all directly correlated to compressed nerves, and are a common phenomena in the kayak fishing world. This intense pain is not a joke once you start feeling it, and has discouraged many prominent kayak anglers.
In summary, most sit-on top kayaks nowadays are equipped with heavily padded foam backrests, designed to reduce pain. Even with these specially designed seats, kayak anglers that use these fishing kayaks experience many of these symptoms: Fatigue, back soreness, yak ass, yak back, and leg pain. This creates a need for rest periods, where you must interrupt your kayak fishing for a “un-kinking” rest break.
In the Wavewalk fishing kayak, there is no L position, instead there is the Riding Position. Similar to riding a horse, your legs support your body weight, while helping you paddle, balance, and fish.
This revolutionary new type of fishing kayak allows the angler to change between a number of other positions at any time, which include the Standing Up position and the Sitting position (this position is like being seated in a canoe) . This means you can relax, stretch, and fish comfortably for very long stretches of time, without having the problem of pain, numbness, or soreness in any part of your body.