Page 1 of 1

Numb legs/feet

Posted: Mon Sep 28, 2009 9:16 am
by rec1551
I have just started sea kayaking after an enjoyable summer on sit on tops and purchased a pretty cheap and cheerful composite kayak off ebay to get me started. Of all the problems I thought I'd come up against, numb legs wasn't one of them.....but after using the boat twice I simply can't paddle longer than an hour or so without my lower legs and feet going to sleep - a potentially dangerous situation as I can't then safely exit the boat even on the beach.

Is this something kayakers get to start with or unheard of. I've played around with the seat and foot rests (rudder type) and tried with no shoes on but nothing seems to make a difference. This is very serious as I won't be able to continue paddling if this continues and that depresses the bejesus out of me. I never had any problems on the SOTs and paddled them over reasonable distances (5-8 miles) non-stop with only a numb bum at the end!

This boat is very narrow (55cm) and has a fine entry which means the bow is narrower still - maybe this is the problem

Anyone have any tips as I'm desperate

Re: Numb legs/feet

Posted: Mon Sep 28, 2009 9:38 am
by Ceegee
Very common problem, and very seat-sensitive. For example: in my RM Skerray (foam seat insert) I barely last an hour. In my Nordkapp (glass seat pan) I was fine for 3-4, and in my Alaw Bach I can sit 8 hours no probem.

Under-thigh support is very important, after that it is just experimenting with seat height (I personally find raising it a bit, whilst lowering stability, improves comfort), lateral support (hip padding) and a back rest which gives you the support you want and need.

Unfortunately cockpit fitting is a very personal thing, very hit and miss (lots of experimentation required) and nearly everybody has modified to some degree. Buy some high density foam (the closed cell water non-absorbant kind) and contact adhesive and experiment, if that doesn't achieve enough, try changing the seat (depending on the boat type) or if the worst comes to the worst, the boat.

Continuing as you are is just going to lead to pure frustration.

Steve

BTW, 99% of paddlers seem to find an acceptable solution?

Re: Numb legs/feet

Posted: Mon Sep 28, 2009 9:40 am
by MikeB
Sell it - buy a boat that fits?

Seriously - unless the seat is causing some pressure somewhere, and in those cases it's usually the thighs which suffer, then it's got to be a space issue in the area your feet are? You dont tell us if you're having to wedge yourself in at all but if you are tight on space then that's the likely problem.

If you can't make more space, then we're back to sell it and buy a boat that fits.

Mike.

Re: Numb legs/feet

Posted: Mon Sep 28, 2009 10:12 am
by chris-uk
Just yesterday I was out in my NDK and had exactly the same problem, yet I've previously spent hours in the boat with no worries at all! The problem? I had fitted new foot pedals and had adjusted them incorrectly, pushing me just an inch further back than I normally sit. This caused the normally awesome fibrglass seat pan to cut into my thigh and stop the blood flowing to my right leg. A quick stop at Polperro to diagnose and remedy the situation and I then paddled for the rest of the day with just two further stops.

As someone else mentioned previously, experimenting and experience are the ways to overcome this. Unfortunately that can be a frustrating process but hopefully, now that you know it's not just you, one you can get through.

Chris

Re: Numb legs/feet

Posted: Mon Sep 28, 2009 10:43 am
by rec1551
Well, I'm relieved that its a common problem. My seat is a hanging mesh with a foam cushion and feels really confortable - but it could still be cutting off circulation of course. It's got loads of adjustability forward and backwards but no up and down unless I wedge something underneath it. The foot rest are aluminum brackets which slide in a track to work the rudder and have plenty of adjustability. I'm not cramped in the boat at all as I'm pretty slim and my legs don't reach the end of the foot rest adjustability even when fully stretched.

I guess I'll just keep trying

Re: Numb legs/feet

Posted: Mon Sep 28, 2009 10:57 am
by Erling
I was very happy with my previous boat, except for its rather low front deck. This forced me to sit with my feet angled to the side (heels in, toes out), and with size 13 boots over drysuit socks there was no way I could move the feet around. After spending an hour in this locked position I simply had to get out of the cockpit. My current boat has a taller deck, which meant bye, bye to leg problems.

Re: Numb legs/feet

Posted: Mon Sep 28, 2009 2:51 pm
by Peter M
Tend to agree with Mike B sell the boat on and buy one that fits you. I had exactly the same problem a few years ago and spent ages playing about with bits of foam, ended up selling the boat. Boat fit is a very personal thing. I know other people who have the same boat and are perfectly comfortable for a number of hours.

Re: Numb legs/feet

Posted: Mon Sep 28, 2009 3:28 pm
by Mikebelluk
I suffered from bad pins and needles mainly in my left leg/foot, but the problem seems to have gone since I changed my kayak seat from a home made minicell foam one to a copy of a Valley seat.
I also wear Palm combi salopettes which have dry socks rather than latex ankle seals, so presumably circulation is a bit better.
As Erling mentioned, a higher cockpit may help; I deliberately designed this feature into my boat so I could lift my knees and wiggle my legs around from time to time.
Hope this helps. MB

Re: Numb legs/feet

Posted: Mon Sep 28, 2009 4:57 pm
by lg18
I used to have this problem. Two things have solved it - 1. proper warm ups and stretches before getting in the boat - running around and doing ham string stretches; 2. better paddling technique using torso rotation and "cycling" with my legs (the movement must have helped with the circulation).

Lucy

Re: Numb legs/feet

Posted: Mon Sep 28, 2009 6:20 pm
by Kate D
I have suffered a similar problem in a plastic avocet. The problem area was the front part of the seat at the sides, just where my thigh is. I solved this by pulling the backrest very tight, making me sit on the front 3/4 of the seat only. This solved the problem completely. Like others, I would suggest you try different seat and backrest positions, try moving forwards on the seat and try a layer of foam on the seat. You could remove the seat and replace it with a foam seat, as long as the seat is not part of the structural stability of the boat. If you are paddling in a club or with friends, try their boats out and see if other boats are comfortable.

Good luck. I hope you find a solution.

Re: Numb legs/feet

Posted: Mon Sep 28, 2009 7:58 pm
by chris-uk
lg18 wrote:I used to have this problem. Two things have solved it - 1. proper warm ups and stretches before getting in the boat - running around and doing ham string stretches...
Didn't think to mention it earlier, but this is something that has a major effect on me. If I don't stretch I can guarantee dead legs regardless of what boat I'm in or how I'm sat in it. Stretching my hamstrings out is very important if I want to stay comfortable.

Chris

Re: Numb legs/feet

Posted: Wed Sep 30, 2009 11:40 am
by cakie174
Stretchs, stretchs, stretchs... I had played rugby for 20+ years before sea kayaking and my body is stiff as nails. Stretching helps loads

Re: Numb legs/feet

Posted: Wed Sep 30, 2009 11:52 am
by Graeme Seggie
Does anyone get sore hips paddling after a length of time. I wonder if it is related to the causes listed above and if stretching would sort it out too.

I can't remember if it has been as much of an issue lately (or if I am just used to it now) but did notice that on paddles longer than a couple of hours in the past my right hip in particular was getting annoyingly sore.

Graeme.

Re: Numb legs/feet

Posted: Wed Sep 30, 2009 5:57 pm
by pamf
I can strongly recommend yoga. I went for years abusing my body through outdoor activities and have paid the price with injuries etc. But now I find yoga really helps build overall strength and flexibility, esp if practised consistently. Just last week, I was limping about with a sore hip from an old running injury but it has completely gone after my Monday night yoga class which so happened to focus on hip opening poses.

It also helps mentally by teaching you to remember to breathe, not to hold unnecessary tension anywhere etc etc.

If you don't want to try it out before showing up at a class, you could try DVDs. I recommend Rodney Yee.

Re: Numb legs/feet

Posted: Wed Sep 30, 2009 8:27 pm
by Chris Bolton
I wouldn't worry about the difficulty of exiting with numb legs - assuming you mean exit after a capsize. Gravity is on your side and it's much easier than getting out on the beach. I'm sure Karen Darke wouldn't paddle if she couldn't get out of her boat, and she has more than her legs numb (Google if you haven't heard of her - an amazing woman)

Chris

Re: Numb legs/feet

Posted: Wed Sep 30, 2009 9:16 pm
by pamf
Oops - just re-read my note and I did, of course, mean - if you do want to try yoga out before attending a class. Doh.