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Tips for Kayaking
Comfort and Fit Tips
Proper fit and comfort go a long way to help develop fundamental kayak skills and will make your paddling experience more enjoyable and healthier. Here are a few fit tips and solutions to help you stay comfortable:
A Comfortable Fit
A kayak should fit like a comfortable pair of shoes. Unlike a whitewater kayak, you should still be able to straighten your legs on foot pedals. Remember, a more relaxed cockpit fit enhances the flexibility in your lower back, which in turn allows more dynamic and comfortable paddle strokes and bracing. A good trick when buying a new kayak is to make sure you can bring at least one knee up towards your chest to ensure you can relieve muscle fatigue.
Check for pressure points that may cut off circulation in your legs, hips and feet. A partially inflated paddle float, a rolled up towel, or a piece of a “pool noodle” can be used to build up the front edge of your seat to reduce pressure points. An inexpensive canoe kneeling pad ($10) cut length-ways makes an incredible set of heel pads.
Note: Ensure wet exits are not restricted by any cockpit alterations.
It’s very common for kayakers to develop numbness in their feet over the course of an outing. Raising or tilting up the back of your thighs can often avoid “numb feet”. An inflated paddle float makes a great cushion to hold your thighs in a “brace position”. Too often, paddlers forget to stretch their lower body and wiggle their toes while paddling.
Stretch hamstrings, quads, calves and shins to reduce leg numbing and tingling to keep you in your kayak longer. Don’t wait until cramps begin – switch positions regularly, stop more often and walk n’ stretch when you stop.
Get Rid of Back Pain
Choose a lower backed seat which maximizes torso rotation. Remember, a proper touring paddle stroke uses the large muscle groups in both your back and stomach to turn your torso “like a spring”. While a high-backed seat may be comfortable initially, it actually inhibits the kayaker from using their larger muscle groups. This forces the kayaker to only use smaller arm muscles which creates and increases back fatigue.
Don’t buy a boat without test paddling a bunch! Sounds simple – after all, you wouldn’t buy a pair of shoes without trying them, so why choose a kayak without test paddling a number in repetition? While most off-the rack seat systems are quite comfortable and easily adjustable, nothing beats spending some quality time in the cockpit to ensure the best fit for your kayaking needs.
Gear Care Tip
303 Protectant is the perfect choice for your boats finish. It protects all material finishes including Composite Gel-coats, Thermoform, Polyethylene and even the Rubber used on Hatches & Gaskets. 303 Protectant guards against deterioration from UV rays as well as the elements. You should also spray it on your PFD’s, spray skirts, paddling jackets, etc… to prolong their effective service life.
Should you have any questions or recommendations on how to improve this article, please call 613.376.6220 or email [email protected]
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