Saturday, August 8, 2009

Kayak Pain and Injuries: Two Approaches, No Solution

Outfitting and Exercise are the two traditional approaches to dealing with pain and injuries related to kayaking and kayak fishing.

The first approach consists of tips and tricks offered by outfitters, kayakers and kayak fishermen, in combination with home-made and commercial 'comfort' and 'ergonomic' accessories such as seats and cushions.
All of the above are supposed to help people who paddle kayaks and fish from them avoid discomfort, pain and injuries induced by kayaking and kayak fishing.
For example, the typical advice for kayak users who suffer from circulation problems in their legs that lead to discomfort, numbness and pain, is to place a small pillow under their knees in order to support them in a higher position. Like other cushioning solutions, this doesn't solve the problem at its root but merely transforms, delays or masks it - or moves it elsewhere.

The second approach is promoted by professionals who treat pain and injuries, such as chiropractors. These people are more aware of the physiological causes of discomfort, pain and injuries related to kayaks, and what they basically recommend are various forms of physical exercise that can make paddlers and fishermen more fit for their kayaks.
Such approach makes sense when considering activities that people can't do without, such as office work and driving. People don't sit behind a desk for long hours every day because they want to have fun, but because they need to make a living, and they don't spend hours every day in their car because they feel it's exciting, but simply because driving is the most practical way for them to commute. That is to say that office workers and drivers don't have a choice but to engage in non-ergonomic activities such as office work and driving.
This is not the case with paddling kayaks and fishing from them, since people are not forced to paddle and fish - they do it for fun and relaxation. Therefore, the idea that kayakers and kayak fishermen should spend time exercising at home or in fitness clubs in order to protect their bodies from physical injuries that occur as a result of leisure activities performed in kayaks doesn't make much sense to most people. Indeed, why should you waste time, energy and money exercising your body to fit a certain product just because you feel like going on water, or fishing, or both?

Paddling itself should be your healthy physical exercise, and the same is true for kayak fishing.
If sit-in and SOT kayaks require that you exercise at home or in gym in order to protect your body from injuries that are likely to occur while paddling and fishing from such kayaks, then the sensible approach would be to avoid using them, and look elsewhere.
This is a matter of common sense: Your kayak should fit you, and not vice versa.
If you're not in great shape (most people aren't...) you'd better get a kayak that would help you get into shape naturally and pleasantly, without exposing you to the common kayaking injuries, especially in your back.
Such kayak should not force you into a single posture that's uncomfortable and potentially harmful to your back. It should offer your spine support from your own legs and in a natural angle, with freedom of motion and change, and not from a padded plastic accessory that continuously pushes against your lumbar vertebrae from the wrong direction.
Unlike sit-in and SOT kayaks, this kayak should be easy to paddle in various paddling styles, in order to minimize excessive strain on particular muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints.

Most chiropractors are not aware of the existence of an alternative to traditional sit-in and SOT kayaks. The good news is that such kayak exists: It's patented, tested, and offers a good, full solution to the ergonomic problems that other kayaks simply can't address.
It's called the W kayak, and it is made by Wavewalk Fishing Kayaks. The company's website offers numerous testimonials from customers who had been suffering from typical kayaking and kayak fishing problems before they switched to the W kayak. It also offers several technical articles on the new ergonomic design of this boat.

3 comments:

frank said...

Ouch!

CharlieP said...

food for thought

Theresa Skol said...

Too bad my chiropractor never heard of these new kayaks