How to prepare body for max comfort (knees)

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cleve99
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How to prepare body for max comfort (knees)

Post by cleve99 » Sun Nov 27, 2011 11:20 pm

Do any of you work on mobility exercises to maximize comfort in your boat? I know there has been quite a bit written about outfitting a boat for max comfort but what about preparing your body? I am relatively new to the sport and really enjoy it. However, I feel like I would enjoy it 100x more if I were more comfortable (my knees). Any ideas? Is it just a fact of paddling an open boat that you will look like a newborn calf everytime you stand up out of your boat?

I am trying to prepare my body for next spring. Thanks for your time!

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Re: How to prepare body for max comfort (knees)

Post by Shep » Sun Nov 27, 2011 11:23 pm

Having foot and leg wear that doesn't cutoff blood flow or create pressure points is crucial for me. Also, you can try sitting on something like a yoga block while watching TV to stretch the tops of the feet, ankles, and get the knees used to that compression.

Hope this helps,
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Re: How to prepare body for max comfort (knees)

Post by Wendy » Sun Nov 27, 2011 11:34 pm

Make sure the saddle does not push on the upper inner part of your thigh as that will also make your feet go to sleep. I sand it to a 45 to 60 degree angle from the seat

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Re: How to prepare body for max comfort (knees)

Post by Smurfwarrior » Mon Nov 28, 2011 1:54 am

Yoga... (hero pose I think) prepaddle stretching and ibuprofen helps me. One key way to check out c1 outfitting is to sit in your boat for a half hour with just you underwear on. Have someone there when you get out of the boat to point out what areas of your inner thighs, legs, shins and ankles have compression marks from the outfitting. That's how I figured out that my saddle was too wide at the front and (like Wendy noted) the inner thighs were being impinged which affected blood flow to my toes. The seat wasn't uncomfortable and I couldn't feel the edge of the saddle. Fixed the saddle and that fixed my toes going to sleep.

For cold weather, removing as much material from behind the knee is important, as is shoe selection. I wear pull over booties that have a small firm sole. That helps a bunch too.

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Re: How to prepare body for max comfort (knees)

Post by Paddle Power » Mon Nov 28, 2011 6:26 pm

I used to sit on a ball early spring before the season, now I have an extra foam saddle that I can sit on at home during the preseason. It makes a big difference for me the first couple of days in the boat I can sit much longer if I have pre sat.
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Re: How to prepare body for max comfort (knees)

Post by SlovenOC'er » Mon Nov 28, 2011 8:05 pm

Aahh! A topic that really effects my day on the river. Good thread. I agree with the ideas on yoga and sitting on a training saddle around the house. What helps me is doing a short mild warmup then good stretching on my quads, hamstrings, calves, feet and lower back right before paddling. I've been guilty of jumping in my gear and hopping in a boat to go at times. When that happens, I can look forward to falling out of my boat due to cramping sooner or later. Staying well hydrated helps too. Would love to hear other ideas.

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Re: How to prepare body for max comfort (knees)

Post by cleve99 » Mon Nov 28, 2011 9:22 pm

Thanks for the replies. Until a few months ago I was dealing with a nagging knee issue for almost 2 years that coldn't be identified through x-rays or even talking to three different doctors. Long story short I found a physical therapist that took a much broader approach to corrrecting the problem.

The culprit was tight hips, quads, calves. This tightness lead to muscle imbalances that had my relatively young (30 years) body all out of whack. This led to my current obsession with "mobility training". It is a popular buzzword right now and there are quite a few good resources on the web. Focusing on restoring my hip mobility has helped my knee tremendously. I am now focusing on the same approach for my whole body. Lots of self massage with a foam roller, stretching, etc. Hoping this will help my paddling as well.

Maybe I have answered my own question but paddling 2 years ago was very uncomfortable for me. In fact it made it hard to get motivated to paddle much at all this season (plus I was a little obsessive about not re-aggravating my knee). I was hoping that by posting this question people might be able to reassure me that I am on the right track focusing on flexibility/mobility.

I will definitely look around my garage for something that is about the same height as my saddle and get used to sitting in that position. I also started taking yoga in the last couple months but only once a week at this point.

I just remember every oben boater in my local paddling association joking around at how stiff they were everytime we stopped and got out of our boats. I want to work now to prevent this from happening this spring. Any other specific stretches or routines that have helped you out? Thanks!

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Re: How to prepare body for max comfort (knees)

Post by iRolled » Mon Nov 28, 2011 9:29 pm

Yup, get in your boat and stretch while someone is running shuttle. I do this everytime I paddle. It helps get your feet muscles ready for hours of kneeling. I like stretching with my paddle in my hands. I push it away from my body in all directions. Left, right, front, back, and more. I too am guilty of just hopping in without stretching at times. And if you've done it enough times you could feel the difference.
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Re: How to prepare body for max comfort (knees)

Post by scott curtis » Tue Nov 29, 2011 12:12 am

I see the whole knee days coming way in advance. Like a yoga position, I start streatching out like I'm in a canoe several days earlier.. A boats saddle and a couch have nothing in common.You may also suffer from restless leg syndrone.relax.your leg guns r too big.

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Re: How to prepare body for max comfort (knees)

Post by Craig Smerda » Tue Nov 29, 2011 12:18 am

/\ all of the above /\

this might sound goofy... but try kneeling on a regular basis... while watching t.v. or while working on the laptop... heck you can even pray more if that's part of your daily ritual. make a pedestal to sit/kneel on in your living room... stuff like that. like I said... it sounds goofy but... :lol:

for me in the past it wasn't necessarily the kneeling that hurt as much as kneeling while pushing on the footpegs. then I figured out that by tapering the angle of the footpegs on the saddle it kept my knees, shins and ankles in better alignment and I could spend a lot more time in a boat.

notice the taper...
Image

just keep in mind... the lower your saddle is the more joint stress you'll create... but the higher your saddle the higher your center of balance and gravity are.... only you can determine what's optimal young Jedi.

:wink:
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Re: How to prepare body for max comfort (knees)

Post by KNeal » Tue Nov 29, 2011 6:48 pm

Hi, Cleve. You are asking the "age-old" question (isn't that punny? :D ) about canoeing. I'm glad to read your joint health is pretty intact (as far as X-rays are concerned). What Craig mentioned about foot rests is a huge contributor to knee pain/problems. Having a foot rest causes the foot to jam the lower leg into the knee joint. Specifically, the head of the tibia is being forced against the end of the femur, compressing the connective tissue and cartilage. To add to this, us boaters with larger-sized thighs are more prone to constrict blood flow through the legs when kneeling because the calf muscles are pressed more into the lower hamstrings toward the knee.

How to alleviate all this pressure? All those suggestions above are all good to practice and can help increase your comfort along with making sure your saddle and outfitting fits you comfortably--relatively comfortably at least. One suggestion I'll add is to use a ball you can deflate, like a beach ball or basketball--as you get comfortable kneeling on it, let more air out so you are kneeling lower. This will increase the flexibility in your shins (front of your lower leg).

Now, to your question about mobility training and exercises. Mobility training is a new phrase for active range of motion (AROM). Think pilates yoga, martial arts, etc. If you are taking yoga, talk to the yogi (not the bear :evil: ) about what type(s) of yoga will help you best meet your paddling goals. Not all yoga is the same, so certified, trained yoga instructors will be able to help you be in the right type of class. Styrofoam rollers and those spiny balls are fantastic for working loose all that kinked up fascia tissue. I have added a softball to work on my hips because that size does better getting the deeper tissue around my hip joint. One mode of activity I'll throw into your arsenal is swimming and kicking in the water. Grab a pair of swim fins and a kick board and do many laps of flutter kick and dolphin kick--great for your shins. The breaststroke (frog kick) does great with the hips. You just need a body of water at least 3 feet deep and the temperature not in the 60's or colder. :o Personally, I'd like to read what exercises and activities you are now doing that you think are helping.
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cleve99
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Re: How to prepare body for max comfort (knees)

Post by cleve99 » Tue Nov 29, 2011 9:21 pm

Kneal:

Kelly Starrett is the mobility guru. I read about him in Competitor magazine. If you are into foam rolling, trigger point therapy, mobility drills/exercises you will love his website if you have not already seen it. Check out MobilityWOD.com. You can google him to get more info as he is a really interesting guy.

Amongst other things, he recommends something called the "couch stretch" for his hip flexors and quads. It was too much for me at first but I built up to being able to do it and it has worked wonders for my knee.

As far as my calves, just a rediculous amount of foam rolling. When I first started with the foam roller it was brutally painful. Now I am doing it pain free with a piece of 4'' PVC pipe and am addicted to it. I use a lacrosse ball to loosen up the muscles deep in my hips (periformis) and the foam roller/PVC for my quads, IT Band, and back.

This mobiliy flexibility work along with his recommended hip and glute strengthening excercises have literally changed my life. A year and a half of nagging knee pain is torture for someone who loves to hike, cycle, run, etc.

Based on what I now know about my body and how much better I feel I am not surprised paddling was uncomfortable for me two summers ago. I was terribly tight and inflexible. I am also very optimistic about getting back into it this coming spring. Thanks again for everyone's advice. I am sure I will have more outfitting questions as the season approaches.

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Re: How to prepare body for max comfort (knees)

Post by rivercowboy » Tue Nov 29, 2011 11:44 pm

I paddle year around so I don't have to prepare my body for comfort in a C-boat.
That's the best way I know.
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Re: How to prepare body for max comfort (knees)

Post by Bruce Farrenkopf » Wed Nov 30, 2011 5:15 am

Cleve99,
Stretching is critical, especially after 30, more especially after 40, and.. well you know the rest :roll: .
Given that, tailored outfitting is essential for comfort, a quarter inch trimmed here or there, extra padding, ankle blocks, the right shoes - whatever is necessary for a personal fit.
So, once you are properly stretched, get your outfitting and gear tinkered and individualized for your body. It's amazing what a difference some minor changes can make :o !
You may end up C1ing comfortably into your 60's.
SYOTR,
Bruce

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Re: How to prepare body for max comfort (knees)

Post by Larry Horne » Thu Dec 01, 2011 1:25 am

Bruce Farrenkopf wrote:Cleve99,
Stretching is critical, especially after 30, more especially after 40, and.. well you know the rest :roll: .
Given that, tailored outfitting is essential for comfort, a quarter inch trimmed here or there, extra padding, ankle blocks, the right shoes - whatever is necessary for a personal fit.
So, once you are properly stretched, get your outfitting and gear tinkered and individualized for your body. It's amazing what a difference some minor changes can make :o !
You may end up C1ing comfortably into your 60's.
SYOTR,
Bruce

yep. what he said
Larry

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