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Thread: Paddler with lower back/core pain

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    Churchton, MD
    Posts
    120

    Default Paddler with lower back/core pain

    I paddle a Ocean Trident Ultra 4.3 and Iíve played around with setting the foot pegs where my legs are more bent and still my sciatica and lower back are a mess. So much so when i was putting up Xmas decorations this weekend I had to take frequent breaks just to sit down. Iíve been to the doctor who has asked me what kind of exercise I do and i tell her i paddle 10 miles a week kayak fishing and she says naively that paddling is all upper body and not lower back and core (complete BS). She says paddling shouldnít effect my core so there should be no reason to stop.

    I also have a 2 year old that may look exactly like my wife, but she has my size. Sheís 100% in height, weight and head size. Sheís the size of an average 4 year old. However, she can only do the things that a 2 year old can do, so my wife and I have to put her in and out of her car seat, change her, lift her onto the toilet, pick her up all the time, etc. My wife also has debilitating lower back pain. Iím perplexed. Any other paddlers in their 40s that canít stand in one spot for more than 5 minutes without feeling excruciating pain from your lower back all the way through your groin and down the front of your legs? Is it the baby or the paddling?

    Iím done with doctors that sit in DC offices and have never fished a day in their life much less trolled 5 miles on a trip on the Bay looking for a school of stripers. Iíd rather hear advice from people that actually understand that paddling in the bay is a physical sport that uses a ton of muscle groups, especially core. I can remember my first time paddling back to the western shore with a strong western wind and by the time i made it back (500 yards in about 45 minutes) I knew right then that I was going to have to use something other than my abs and my core to get out of bed for the next week. It took two weeks for it to be comfortable.

    Please! Advice if you have it. Iím not going to stop fishing, so what do I do? My hippy friends keep telling me to do yoga!
    Trident Ultra 4.3
    Pompano 120
    Garmin Striker 4dv

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Location
    Cape St Claire
    Posts
    1,000

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    The only thing I can suggest is to play with your seat back adjustments in the same way you worked the foot peddle. Also adjust the support under your thighs. Maybe a rolled up towel?
    Bruce

    Wilderness System, Thresher 155

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Salisbury, MD
    Posts
    1,067

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    You need to dedicate yourself to a stretching routine (or yoga, like your hippy friends suggest). Seriously dedicate yourself. 30 mins a day at least. I typically stretch after my 2-years old goes to bed, while I watch TV.

    A lot of lower back pain is caused by the surrounding muscles; hamstrings, hip flexors, SI joints, etc. "pulling" on your lower back. I have also struggled through significant back pain at several times since I began kayak fishing. Those times were mostly a result of poor form while deadlifting in the gym, so although it was not chronic pain like you experience, it lasted for several weeks at a high intensity level. Each time, it was slowly resolved by stretching and rest. Ever since I began stretching, I am more loose in my hips, which has taken pressure off my back.

    I don't know what you do for a living, but if you frequently sit for extended periods of time, that also makes it worse; especially on your hip flexors. There are several video online about how to properly stretch to relieve back pain. A foam roller is also a good investment. They hurt like sh*t at first, but once you get somewhat used to them they are great. Another exercise I really found useful is to lie at a 90 degree angle up against the wall with you back flat on the floor and your legs/feet up against the wall. Ill hold that for several minutes and it really relieves pressure on my back when it is sore.

    There is no easy fix; like most things in life. It takes time and consistency to overcome. You're basically trading one type of pain for another type, but at least you have some control of any pain that darn foam roller causes you

    Hope you feel better soon.
    ___________________________

    Hobie Fishing Team Member
    Survival Products, Salisbury, MD

    2017 Camo Hobie Outback
    2015 Olive Hobie Outback

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Pasadena, MD
    Posts
    2,893

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    I feel for you. You're too young to be hurting like that.

    The only time I've felt lower back pain paddling is when I first got my Ultimate. The standard foot supports on that boat are small blocks of plastic. They touched only the balls of my feet. My heels were essentially unsupported except for their contact on the hull of the boat. I soon upgraded to Native's full pad foot supports -- they look like the sole of a shoe -- and my back discomfort stopped. I don't understand the physiology of that solution but clearly giving my feet a firmer and fuller resting point helped immensely.

    Also, I've found over the years that I like to extend my legs fully in my kayaks. That includes my Hobie. Perhaps that's analogous to the stretching exercise mentioned above by RavensDfense.

    Lastly, I try to not overdue it in loading and unloading my boats on my van. I'm very deliberate in my actions to avoid unnecessary stress on my back. I lift with my legs and turn slowly. I use a Yakima roller device to cartop them and the help of my friends when they're available. Also, my boats are relatively light and I carry minimal gear making their transport to and from the launch easier than some rigs I see.

    I hope to goodness you find relief.
    Mark

    Slate Hobie Revolution 13
    Hidden Oak Native Ultimate 12

    Author: The Simple Joys of Kayak Fishing (Tips and Tales From an Old Guy in His Plastic Boat)
    Available on Amazon.com

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    OC Area
    Posts
    831

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    I don't do yoga but I try to stretch and stay limber as much as possible too now. It really does help! I've had lower back issues in the past from random injuries at work so I know your pain. Make sure you're using good posture and form when your paddling too to not make the back issues worse. I suppose that advice goes for picking up your child too - good form and posture. I'm right there with you having to carry and pickup a 2 year old all the time and yea, it can surely affect you. Lastly, a comfortable cushion for your seat never hurts either.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    Hampstead, MD
    Posts
    696

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    Quote Originally Posted by RavensDfense View Post
    You need to dedicate yourself to a stretching routine (or yoga, like your hippy friends suggest). Seriously dedicate yourself. 30 mins a day at least. I typically stretch after my 2-years old goes to bed, while I watch TV.

    A lot of lower back pain is caused by the surrounding muscles; hamstrings, hip flexors, SI joints, etc. "pulling" on your lower back. I have also struggled through significant back pain at several times since I began kayak fishing. Those times were mostly a result of poor form while deadlifting in the gym, so although it was not chronic pain like you experience, it lasted for several weeks at a high intensity level. Each time, it was slowly resolved by stretching and rest. Ever since I began stretching, I am more loose in my hips, which has taken pressure off my back.

    I don't know what you do for a living, but if you frequently sit for extended periods of time, that also makes it worse; especially on your hip flexors. There are several video online about how to properly stretch to relieve back pain. A foam roller is also a good investment. They hurt like sh*t at first, but once you get somewhat used to them they are great. Another exercise I really found useful is to lie at a 90 degree angle up against the wall with you back flat on the floor and your legs/feet up against the wall. Ill hold that for several minutes and it really relieves pressure on my back when it is sore.

    There is no easy fix; like most things in life. It takes time and consistency to overcome. You're basically trading one type of pain for another type, but at least you have some control of any pain that darn foam roller causes you

    Hope you feel better soon.

    Another vote for a foam roller. Doug and I actually spoke about this when we fished together on the hobie first cast outing in 2016. For years I've dealt with chronic back pain that will stay a couple weeks, then go away for a month or more, then come back, and so on and so forth. What finally put me into a place where I deal with only 10% of the pain from before, was a good stretching regiment, using the foam roller frequently, and most importantly, incorporating core workouts 3-4 days per week. It's somewhat easy for me since I go to the gym at least 3x a week anyway, so I just do 5-10 mins of core work before and after my workout, with 10 mins of stretching beforehand, and maybe 5 after. And you don't have to absolutely kill yourself during core work, just do the exercises that don't hurt you, and that you're comfortable with. For me, it's a lot of crunches with my arms extended either straight up in the air, or straight back behind my head (makes it tougher), planks, bicycles (just lie on your back and hold your legs up and move them like you're pedaling a bike), and a couple others. I like yoga but honestly I've had back pain directly because of yoga before, certain poses even though you can do them, doesn't mean you should, or sometimes you can just hold them too long. I don't really get back pain anymore while kayaking but I do get hip pain, which I know is due to me just waking up in the morning, not having time to stretch properly, and then driving an hour to the fishing spot. I try to stretch for a good 5 mins before fishing, but my kayak is a sit inside with limited room to move around, a poor seat, and crappy footpegs, so it'll cause discomfort after a few hours no matter what. Stretching certainly helps. Also you may want to consider a CT scan. I got an abdominal CT scan for a different issue, and it actually revealed I've got degenerative disc disease (very common), and the only good news is that once that disc degenerates, no more pain haha. But like I said, I've really minimized my pain by stretching, doing core exercises often, rolling, and being careful when lifting whenever possible. Also chiropractic care may work but I don't recommend it, I went for over a year before I realized that PT was a much better choice, and that only took 4 visits to nail down my problem and craft a solution.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Posts
    3,880

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    I deal with a lot of leg and back pain when standing. Fortunately for me, sitting is reasonably comfortable such that I can spend 2-4 hours in my kayak seats before getting sore. If I get out and stretch for a few minutes, I can get back in the seat again. Ibuprofen helps me too.

    You got some good advice above about stretching, exercise, etc. One other point I can add is that not all kayak seats and seating/foot positions are equal. If you are already prone to back issues, consider trying various brands and models of kayaks to see if they are more or less comfortable than the one you have already. I would be happy to let you try either of my Native kayaks (Manta Ray 11 paddle kayak and Slayer Propel 10 pedal kayak). Having used quite a few kayaks over the years, I have never found one as comfortable as the Native Manta Ray seat -- at least for my back and hips. It is wedge shaped and padded well. The trend in the fishing kayak business is to move away from built-in seating and over to raised "lawn chair" style seating. There is a big range in comfort of raised seats too.

    You can play around with seat adjustments (if your seat has that). Also try different knee bend angles (or even change the angle every hour while you are on the water).

    In addition to looking for a comfortable standard seat, consider adding a gel pad on top. For many years I used a Skwoosh pad to help with comfort. Last year I switched to a thicker Wondergel pad that really helps.

    Back pain is no fun. Hopefully you can find relief that lets you continue enjoying the sport.
    John Veil
    Annapolis
    Native Watercraft Manta Ray 11 and Slayer Propel 10
    Member - Pro Staff team for Native Watercraft

    Author - "Fishing in the Comfort Zone" - light tackle fishing techniques for kayaks and small boats

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    Collegeville, PA
    Posts
    580

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    I struggled with severe mid-back pain and spasms after dislocating a couple ribs doing what else- carrying my kayak- which at the time was a hefty Native Manta Ray 14. Traditional doctors just prescribed pain pills and "rest" which did nothing for me and actually made things worse because the ribs kept slipping back out of place. After months of suffering, I took advice from a buddy and went to see a chiropractor who also had a full PT operation in the office.

    It took weeks and weeks but after a while the adjustments, STEM treatments and PT routines that included foam rolling, exercise ball stretches, resistance band work and yoga, I started to feel normal again. Its been 5 years or so now and every once in a while it will flair up but I have 2 foam rollers- a big knobby one I keep at home and a smaller one I take on every fishing/kayaking trip- that do wonders on getting out the knots that form under my shoulder blade and cause the spasms.

    The other big change I made was switching to a Hobie... the twisting and turning of my back/core was just too much so to stay on the water I saved some money and got into the pedal game and never looked back.
    Hobie Revo 13 carribean blue

    My YouTube Channel

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