Kayaking is quite a rewarding activity both in terms of the experience and physical workout that ensues. However, getting out of a kayak can be surprisingly tricky due to its design, even if you have a healthy pair of knees.
But things are much worse for kayakers with bad knees. So much so that it’s not unusual to find people that have given it up due to their knees. Hence, the question of how to get out of a kayak with bad knees is not an uncommon one.
If you’re a bit skeptical about the effectiveness (quite understandably), then let us assure you that the ways mentioned here will make things much easier for you. It includes choosing the right kayak, exit position, and ways to help your knees.
Ensuring Proper Equipment
Learning the physical techniques won’t do much if you don’t ensure a few things, and equipment is undoubtedly one. Therefore, let’s talk about some prerequisites that will provide the best possible results.
Of course, the first bit that you need to ensure is a kayak that works with you, not against. One way to do that is to buy a sit-on-top kayak, which can provide a significant edge over something like a flat water one.
The reason behind that is these products provide way more room and avoid constricting your legs. As you can imagine, this design would make getting in and out of the kayak much more accessible than a narrower option.
Moreover, you can also keep your legs straighter while sitting on a sit-on-top kayak. However, it’s not always a benefit, as it can somewhat depend on the issue you are facing with your knees.
As you would be sitting on your kayak for a long time, having a seat that supports your back well enough is crucial. We realize that it may not seem like it, but ensuring enough support for your back can help keep your legs and knee in a better position.
Each kayak has a footrest system of some sort, but the quality and convenience can significantly vary. One way to ensure that it suits you is to have an adjustable footrest, as it will allow your legs to achieve the highest level of comfort with ideal positioning.
If you find the cockpit uncomfortable for your legs, the chances are that it might end up making things worse for your knees. And we want to avoid anything that has the potential to worsen the situation.
Therefore, you can use knee pads that make sitting in the kayak much more comfortable. Generally, sit-on-top kayaks won’t create situations like this – you need to worry about it mainly on the sit-inside ones.
What to Avoid
We recommend you avoid a pedal kayak unless your doctor has specifically suggested you use one (in the case that you need some low-impact leg workout to help your knees).
Now that the prerequisites are out of the way, we can talk about the ways of exiting your kayak. And as we said, ensuring the points above can make things surprisingly easier for your knees.
Choosing the Exit Spot
This section plays a crucial role because it can determine how well your efforts to get out of the kayak will work out. The first thing we’d suggest is to avoid rather wild lakes or rivers if you’ve got bad knees.
That means narrow lakes or ponds will allow you to easily control the kayak and yourself while trying to get out. Another suggestion would be to avoid rocky parts as your exit spot, which can damage your kayak.
The reason we’re saying that is because it correlates to the most vital point – trying to exit from shallow water. Doing that can immensely help get the pressure out of your knees, as it won’t go through as much work.
This bit can also help keep everything low-impact, and if you have issues with your knee, it can make a huge difference.
How to Get Out of a Kayak with Bad Knees
Now, let’s talk about a few methods you can follow to efficiently get out of your kayak without causing any pain in your knees. And since getting out is arguably trickier than getting in, there’s a bit more effort required.
Speeding Up to the Shore
- When you are nearing the shore, try to build your pace up instead of slowing down. As a result, you can get the kayak’s front end up on the dry land, which is what we want.
- Once you’ve done that bit, slowly lift your legs out and get them on the ground. After that, the method of getting the rest of your body out should be reasonably straightforward.
Getting the Legs out First
- The first part of this technique is to get to an area with shallow water, preferably where it’s no more than about two feet deep. That means you should get quite close to the shore.
- Now, try to get one leg past the kayak’s side and land it on the ground. Doing this allows you to avoid putting too much pressure on the knees. Once you have one leg on the ground, follow the same procedure for the other one.
- The next step is getting up, and this bit can also put some pressure on your knees – so you need to be wary. You can now grab the kayak’s sides and gradually put pressure on it as a way to elevate your body.
As a benefit, your knees won’t feel nearly as much pressure as they would’ve if you were to try to get up without dividing the workload.
- This tip is for you if you have a sandy shore as an exit point. What you should do in that case is take the kayak’s bow up onto the coast. You can achieve better stability as a result of getting it on dry land.
Rolling off into the Water
The third option you can opt for can be both surprising and awkward (also wet), but it’s certainly helpful in taking the strain off your knees.
- First, you need to get to a part where the water is shallow. But it shouldn’t be too shallow for what we’re about to do, so let’s say somewhere around your waist.
- Now, you need to roll off from the kayak into the water slowly. Yes, you heard that right – lean on one side and roll out. Once you have done that and you’re out of the kayak, you can stand up with ease.
- Afterward, all that’s left is to push the kayak to the shore. And given that you’re still in the water, it should mostly be manageable.
- Even though it may seem obvious, always check if your life jacket is correctly on if you are willing to follow this technique. It’s irrelevant how close you are to the land, which is a crucial bit to keep in mind.
The reason this method works so impressively is that your body’s natural buoyancy makes you feel lighter, meaning you don’t have to put as much effort to stand up. Therefore, this technique can certainly work out.
Things to Keep in Mind
The steps above are undoubtedly helpful when it comes to getting out of a kayak with ease. However, there are some bits that you should follow that will make things even more accessible.
Not just that, but knowing these can also help you improve the situation with your knees.
One of the most helpful things for your body and knees would be to stretch before kayaking (and in general). When you do that, it loosens the ligaments and muscles around your knees, essentially improving your ability to get out more effortlessly.
Not only that, you can even see positive results over time if you do things right, meaning such exercises are worth it with or without kayaking. Therefore, we recommend that you stretch and warm up to make things more manageable.
Elevation Is Important
One of the things that can further stiffen up your knees is sitting flat-legged on that kayak. And not only for people with bad knees, but this can also cause issues for kayakers without any problems.
That’s because when you’re sitting like that in the kayak for a long time, blood can pool around the knees. And that results in a bitter experience when you try to get out. Hence, it would help if you try to keep your legs slightly elevated.
You could do that by placing something under your knees – it could be a backpack or whatever you have at hand. Doing this will help avoid some of the triggers for knee pain and provide you with relief.
Staying Safe and Asking for Assistance
We should always ask for help when we need it, and there is no shame in it. Therefore, if you have a kayaking partner, you could take his/her help when getting out. Or you could take help from someone that’s on the shore.
You should also remember to have your car in a close distance or be somewhere where you can ask for help if the need arises. Our priority is safety, and if there’s even a single chance of danger, avoiding it should be the core goal.
Another thing that can help is taking lessons. Some people can provide help regarding kayaking with bad knees and other physical issues, which is not the same as the typical lessons. Hence, you could try giving that a shot as well.
We realize how rough it can be to get out of a kayak if you have bad knees. However, that does not mean that you have to give up an activity that you love. And there are several methods that you can follow to make things easier.
In the discussion above, we have tried to answer the question of how to get out of a kayak with bad knees – and it covers most aspects that you might face. They might require some getting used to, but they can undoubtedly come in handy.
And as we already said, always emphasize safety. Wear your safety jacket properly and take any security measures if you have to. Lastly, enjoy the fantastic activity that is kayaking without letting your knees ruin it.
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