Kayaking with a bad back question?

Thread starter #1
Ive been wanting a fishing kayak for a few years but have been putting it off due to fear of back problems. I have a L3/L4 herniation that gives me problems 2-3 times a year. Anybody with a similar situation? Does kayaking make your back worse or will it help build your core muscles? I have never paddled anything in my life. I know the seat will make big difference. Any tips or suggestions?
 
If I was in your situation, I would find the lightest pedal drive kayak with the best seat. You’re gonna have to go out and demo some kayaks and get a good feel for the seat and the kayak itself. Gotta take into consideration loading and unloading the kayak too which is why I suggest something light weight. The muscle in my back below my right shoulder blade will flare up and give my a really bad sharpe pain. Stretching befor I paddle out has helped keep this from flaring up, but recently I put a 55lb thrust trolling motor on my kayak, I absolutely love having it. I paddled my kayak for a year and a half and at times I wish I had bought a pedal drive, I still may do that next yr with me starting to fish kayak tournaments this year.
 

Bream Pole

Senior Member
I am to have back surgery March 8th. No Kayak would work for me now; however, I had a Jackson and the seat was terrific. My back never bothered me. I quit tempting the situation a couple of years ago and gave kayak to my oldest son. Mine was a tripper 12 -- sort of a hybrid. Seats pretty much same on all of the Jackson's. I had a vintage 10 lb thrust Minn Kota I used on it too with a homemade bracket.
 
You would definitely need a good seat. I am currently working on a kayak cart that allows me to just push it into the bed of my truck without lifting it. Something like that might help you with the loading and unloading. I would definitely demo some kayaks. Find out what adjustments to the seat work best for you and go from there.
 

elfiii

Admin
Staff member
You would definitely need a good seat. I am currently working on a kayak cart that allows me to just push it into the bed of my truck without lifting it. Something like that might help you with the loading and unloading. I would definitely demo some kayaks. Find out what adjustments to the seat work best for you and go from there.
What he said. ^ You need a good seat even if you have a good back and a kayak cart is a must if you have to travel any distance from your vehicle to the water.
 
I have L1/L2 and L4/L5 problems. Just started kayaking about a year ago. I haven’t really had any problems. I have a pelican catch HD2 and I really like the pedal kayak advise above. That way if my back starts acting up I can switch it up. What surprised me the most was after a good paddle my LEGS were toast while using the paddles 😂. Also a good frame seat is a must. I will have to say that kayaking has been one of my favorite things to do since I started. I’ve got a 19’ CC boat and a 16’ stick steer boat and all I can think about is getting back in my kayak. It’s hard to explain but it is so different than being in the boat. I mostly have been trying my luck inshore and on the altamaha River. I say go for it. If it doesn’t work out used kayaks are going at almost new prices so you could just sell it and get your money back😆
 

Danuwoa

Redneck Emperor
Another thing to think about is making sure it’s long enough. My wife bought me one a few years ago and I love it but if I had just another foot of leg room I could fish comfortably a lot longer. As it is I can’t quite straighten out my legs and after a few hours that gets mighty uncomfortable.
 
Everybody’s injuries are different, so you might be best to stay off a yak altogether. but if you are stubborn to try...

Peddle drive puts least amount of stress on your back. Your legs do all the work, arm paddling puts upper body into play. I have several herniated disks, neck injuries and bad knees, so I can tell you the peddle drive was a game changer for me. Test it out before you buy... make sure you get your peddles set (adjusted properly) before you get in for the first time - hopefully an experienced guide. If you live near Lake Harding I can show you the hobie - I got two and would be happy to let you try both out. They got good seats.

in the mean time see if you can climb in and out of one... that is often the hardest part.
 

Ruger#3

🛬 RAMBLIN MOD 🛫
Staff member
I have neck issues, C- 4,5 & 6 fused. Kayaking actually helps stretch and strengthen the muscles involved.

A good seat is imperative with back issues.
 
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Thanks for the replies. I think I’m going to go ahead and try it. Now I have to decide on paddle or pedal.
If I could do it all over again, I would have spent the extra money and bought a pedal drive. It would have allowed me to go further out and also I would be able to stay in one spot without anchor. Either way you need a paddlex because if you were to break your pedal drive, you will at least be able to get back to the ramp.
 
If I could do it all over again, I would have spent the extra money and bought a pedal drive. It would have allowed me to go further out and also I would be able to stay in one spot without anchor. Either way you need a paddlex because if you were to break your pedal drive, you will at least be able to get back to the ramp.
A paddle also helps for really quick adjustments. I have mine broken down and keep half of it in front of me all the time. A paddle can do things the pedals just can't do, such as making a really quick turn when you don't have speed.

Thanks for the replies. I think I’m going to go ahead and try it. Now I have to decide on paddle or pedal.
What kind of water will you mainly fish? Rivers, lakes, ponds? We can help point you towards a few good kayaks depending on that, as well as price range.
 

Ray357

Senior Member
Ive been wanting a fishing kayak for a few years but have been putting it off due to fear of back problems. I have a L3/L4 herniation that gives me problems 2-3 times a year. Anybody with a similar situation? Does kayaking make your back worse or will it help build your core muscles? I have never paddled anything in my life. I know the seat will make big difference. Any tips or suggestions?
I ruptured my L4/L/5(or maybe it was l3/l4) and Kayaked just fine. I wouldn't have done real whitewater, but everything on Broad River was fine. Neuro surgeon said I needed surgery, but I got over it without surgery.
 
Thread starter #15
A paddle also helps for really quick adjustments. I have mine broken down and keep half of it in front of me all the time. A paddle can do things the pedals just can't do, such as making a really quick turn when you don't have speed.



What kind of water will you mainly fish? Rivers, lakes, ponds? We can help point you towards a few good kayaks depending on that, as well as price range.
Mainly oxbow lakes and sloughs. If I take it to any big lakes I would stay in the coves and not venture out to the main river.
I don't like the price of the pedal kayaks but would consider one if they are better and would keep my back from going out on me. I am 6'4" 220lbs if that matters. Again thanks for the replies.
 

gunnurse

Senior Member
If you have a really heavy boat, think about the loading/unloading issues. After my L3-4-5/S1 fusion, I’m limited to a 35# lifting restriction for life. Think ramp for sliding into a truck bed. Even better, a hand operated winch that pulls the kayak onto rails. Even better, find a cheap flatbed trailer or jet ski trailer.
 

Ruger#3

🛬 RAMBLIN MOD 🛫
Staff member
If you have a really heavy boat, think about the loading/unloading issues. After my L3-4-5/S1 fusion, I’m limited to a 35# lifting restriction for life. Think ramp for sliding into a truck bed. Even better, a hand operated winch that pulls the kayak onto rails. Even better, find a cheap flatbed trailer or jet ski trailer.
I found a used aluminum kayak trailer with rollers, it’s a life saver with a bad back. Launch traditionally on a ramp or slide back far enough to get the dolly under it for places its needed. I can move the trailer around with one hand. Been a good investment for an old guy.
 
Mainly oxbow lakes and sloughs. If I take it to any big lakes I would stay in the coves and not venture out to the main river.
I don't like the price of the pedal kayaks but would consider one if they are better and would keep my back from going out on me. I am 6'4" 220lbs if that matters. Again thanks for the replies.
I can say, I have a propeller style pedal drive, and it is horrific in grass or lily pads if you fish any of that. I literally just pull my drive up and paddle through it. A paddle is quieter if you have good form and pay attention to your paddle and what is around you (ex. hitting a stump with the paddle).

One main advantage of the pedal, for me at least, is the fact that I have 2 free hands vs when I paddle I usually have the paddle in one hand and make some corrective stroke while in the middle of a cast. It may not make sense to you if you haven't kayak fished yet, but you will find out, lol. All in all, I'd say make the jump to the kayak world. As washercan said above, I have quite a few boats, but when I go fishing I generally am on my yak. There is just something about it. I can't really explain it. And if you haven't dropped a kayak in and floated a rocky river yet...you are definitely missing out.
 
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