Some kayak outfitters still stick to the mantra that good kayaking technique (I.E. “sit straight and rotate your upper body”) is the solution for lower back pain a.k.a. ‘yak back’.
Well, it’s not –
According to this article “Is ‘Rotation Training’ Hurting Your Performance? a.k.a. “Is Rotation Even A Good Idea”, rotating your lumbar spine is at the bottom line a bad idea, and deleterious for your health.
It’s about time professional kayaking instructors and stubborn kayakers stopped saying that poor kayaking technique is the reason why kayakers and kayak fishermen feel pain in their lower back. The truth is that the back pains felt by so many is the result of bad ergonomics included in the design of all sit-in and SOT kayaks. It’s definitely not the fault of any kayaker or kayak fisherman.
It’s probably not the fault of the people who design and manufacture those kayaks either, because there’s really no other viable way to keep a modern-days paddler seated in such a kayak, or on top of it, without using the combination of a footrests and a backrest.
This combination of footrests and backrest forces the paddler into a uniquely non-ergonomic position known as the L posture, which forces his/her legs to apply strong pressure on the lumbar spine – through the backrest (a.k.a ‘lumbar support’). It’s a bio-mechanical nightmare in ever sense of the word:
Rotating one’s upper body doesn’t solve this problem because it’s not supposed to solve it in the first place, and as recent research illustrates – such repeated rotation is in fact not good for the spine, and could be the genesis of additional injury and more pain.
Good kayaking technique can enhance your performance in terms of speed, but it would be irresponsible and naive to imply that it can either prevent or cure back pain.
In order to deter back pain you need to paddle a kayak that doesn’t force your body into unnatural postures and movements. Such kayak has to allow your legs to perform their natural role of supporting your upper body and providing power for your balance and motion efforts. This kayak should allow unrestricted movement, the ability to change your body posture, i.e. switching between various positions whenever you feel like it, and standing up confidently while paddling and fishing, in order to relax your muscles and invigorate your blood circulation.
Believe it or not, this seemingly miraculous kayak exists… it’s the patented Wavewalk Fishing Kayak.