Kayaking Pain Solutions

Kayaking Pain Solutions

Occasionally someone's kayaking aches and pains are not immediately resolved upon installation of a Bumfortable seat.  While the Bumfortable is the solution to the vast majority of people suffering from a lack of kayaking comfort; everyone is shaped differently and sometimes one answer won't solve the same problem for everyone.

The three most common lingering issues are continued sore bum bones, continued chaffing issues, and continued leg numbness.   Here are some solutions to these lingering complaints that may work for those in this position:

Sore Bum Bones - Ischial Tuberosity

It is common during hard training for Multisport for this to happen i.e. cycling and running cause tenderness in this area. Bumfortables are designed and manufactured with extra depressions for ischial tuberosities. (There is a depression there and the channels under the seat for water drainage are aligned exactly for the average spacing of I.T.)  If you are still having issues after installing a Bumfortable, then:

  1. Check that these channels are not blocked with dirt etc.
  2. Your I.T.s might have a different spacing than average, or might be more pronounced than most.
  3. If you’ve been cycling a lot lately, then this can inflame the I.T.s a bit and make them more sensitive to pressure.
  4. Get massage on Gluts and I.T. and stretch gluts and Hamstrings.
  5. Shift your footrest one notch forward to enable you to straighten your knee more. This will take some of the load off your I.T., and onto hamstrings on the front of the seat.
  6. Tilting the seat forward is likely to make it worse for the reason above in 5.
  7. You can make a bigger depression for I.T.s by grinding a bit off the under side of the seat (preferable to the topside, but can also do it on the top side) using 40 grit sandpaper. Alternatively mould a depression using gentle heat (hairdryer for 10 minutes or hot water bottle with boiling water in it), and then pushing a billiard ball or baseball into the spot (put these in the freezer for 1 hour first). Hold this in place for 5 to 10 minutes as the foam cools to take the new shape. Typically  you will want to make a depression that is at least 7 mm deep and approx 60mm diameter with no sharp edges.

Another option is to cut holes right through the seat:

  1. Mark the spots accurately on your naked bum by using a small dot of ink or paint on the sore spots whilst bending to 90 degrees (as you would in the seat), and sit in your seat so the ink transfers onto the seat. It can be useful (and fun!) to get your “favourite person” to help you with accurately marking the right spots on your bum.
  2. Typically the best size for the holes is about 50 or 60 mm diameter.
  3. Generally the common location for the centre of the holes is 100 to 120 mm apart, and 220 mm back from the front edge of the seat.
  4. If you are grinding a depression, I suggest a “Black and Decker powerfile”.
  5. A  4" angle grinder also works well but tends to “grab” and amputate fingers/hands and, rather inconveniently, gouge a hole on your Bumfortable. BE CAREFUL!
  6. Hand-held 40 grit glass paper is good. It may be slow, but is safer and gives you the best control.
  7. Cutting holes right through the seat is a good solution. The best tool for this is a hole saw or if not available then use a hand held hacksaw blade.

Anti Chafing for Bumfortables

We want to reduce pressure areas by distributing load over as big an area as possible, this means there is a lot of your bum in contact with the Bumfortable and actually increases the chance of some chaffing.

As the seat surface is soft and smooth any chaffing you experience is usually caused by clothing seams and edges.

The best solution is to paddle naked!  Another (more popular) option is to wear clothing that has minimal seams in places where there is movement and clothing that is close fitting such as lycra.

Using Anti-friction goo such as GurneyGoo will help if you continue having issues.

Also see the section on reducing I.T. issues above.

Kayaking leg numbness

There are a number of different causes for kayaking leg numbness, and if installing a Bumfortable hasn't awoken your sleepy legs, then see if one of the following problems (and subsequent solution) may match your circumstances.

Problem:
Inflexibility of hamstrings and ITB anatomy. Are you tight in this area? (Can you touch your toes etc)
Solution:
I thoroughly recommend yoga, especially the downward facing dog pose. Be sure to read this article, written by a physio suffering from with this very problem, and follow up with his recommended specific exercises to relieve the issues.

Problem:
Bumfortable too close to footrest. This probably means that your bum is not getting as much support as it could. Pressure is reduced if your body weight is distributed over a greater contact area. By shifting the seat backwards or the footrest forwards the hamstrings contact more of the seat and reduce the load.
Solution:
If you cannot straighten one leg at a time then shift the footrest forward/seat backward until you can.  Personally, I like to be able to straighten my legs (only just), and also to be able to touch them to the top deck, all the time with my toes touching the foot rest. This gives me the maximum amount of freedom to avoid cramps and also the most room to get a good leg pump/bum-rotation going. Mimic K1 racing paddler's leg position.

Problem:
Bumfortable too far from footrest. This could mean the hamstrings are touching too much and cutting off circulation.
Solution:
Try moving the seat and footrest closer together, so that you can only just straighten one leg whilst the other is bent with knee touching the top deck.

Problem:
The seat tilt does not suit your anatomy.
Solution:
Try tilting the seat up or down. We sell tilt wedge kits, or you could make your own out of closed cell foam sleeping/tramping mats.

Problem:
You are wedged too tight in the narrowness of the hull. Eg if you have wide hips, or the seat has been cut/modified lower.
Solution:
Check to see if when paddling your hips are tightly pushing on the sides of the hull. Cut or thin the side panels where the contact is tight.

Alternatively, raise the Bumfortable up by gluing 10 mm foam strips under the seat (not on the sides though) Raising the centre of gravity like this will also decrease stability slightly.

Another solution is to rotate more in the seat with each stroke, using your legs in a mini cycling type action. This will give cyclic relief allowing the blood to move.

Specific issues?

If you have specific questions about the Bumfortable, or your kayaking comfort & health, please contact us and we'll do our best to help.