Kneeling Part 1

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I kneel about half the time because it takes all the pressure off my lower back. If anyone has compressed discs or problems with sciatica, then kneeling is the perfect solution. My ability to be in a boat for a long time is a function of being able to change position frequently. Whenever I kneel in a canoe it reminds me of my father, who didn't canoe, but was able to spend extended periods kneeling on the ground, thigh and shin folded flat, with feet folded over each other. For me it comes naturally because I've done it all my life, but I imagine if you haven't it takes some getting used to over time. Bucking firewood with a chainsaw on the ground is easy for me, but most people struggle.

Mark
I've got chronic sciatica, and multiple compressed or ruptured discs as well as severed nerves, and kneeling for me is absolute torture because it forces the lower back to curve, further loading up on the injuries, what works for me is my kneeling thwart is lowered and angled so I can use it for a toe bar, essentially locking me in place.
 
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I've got chronic sciatica, and multiple compressed or ruptured discs as well as severed nerves, and kneeling for me is absolute torture because it forces the lower back to curve, further loading up on the injuries, what works for me is my kneeling thwart is lowered and angled so I can use it for a toe bar, essentially locking me in place.
Hmm? I must be in a different position when kneeling. It sounds like you have your back arched when kneeling. When I'm kneeling and paddling I am reaching out further in front with the paddle and my lower back is rounded, or in flexion. That is what opens up the passages where the sciatic nerves exit the spine. This is instant lower back relief for me. I don't do this forever though, and eventually go back to sitting on the seat. With sitting, my core muscles eventually fatigue and my back starts to arch again, with the pain coming back. I can't visualize the kneeling thwart/toe bar thing you describe. Do you mind describing that further?
 
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Hmm? I must be in a different position when kneeling. It sounds like you have your back arched when kneeling. When I'm kneeling and paddling I am reaching out further in front with the paddle and my lower back is rounded, or in flexion. That is what opens up the passages where the sciatic nerves exit the spine. This is instant lower back relief for me. I don't do this forever though, and eventually go back to sitting on the seat. With sitting, my core muscles eventually fatigue and my back starts to arch again, with the pain coming back. I can't visualize the kneeling thwart/toe bar thing you describe. Do you mind describing that further?
no it's because kneeling forces a tilt to the pelvis and actually closes the gap in the lowest vertebrae to combat the body's natural tendency to lean forward into a 90 degree bend, which results in an exaggerated S curve
the kneeling thwart is normally about 16-18" behind the centre thwart and is a contoured thwart usually mounted just below the gunnels, Mine has been shifted farther back, tilted, and lowered considerably to match the length of my legs and height of my foot so when seated my toes push against it, giving me far more stability by creating a triangle between my hips and feet.
 
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Despite being extremely uncomfortable kneeling on the ground, or kneeling with my rear resting on my legs per 'Canadian freestyle', which immediately puts my feet to sleep, I finally starting trying to kneel in my canoe using the seat and have found it quite a revelation in comfort (with respect for those who say it doesn't work for them - everyone's different!). Before, I used to alternate between sitting and standing, as well as frequently moving legs this way and that, to keep them from going to sleep. Now I'm looking to re-outfit my canoe for more kneeling, though I would still like to be able to sit or stand depending on conditions and needs (poling, photography, bird-watching, etc).

My seats are very low hung (Wenonah Heron with factory aluminum drops), so I've been playing with raising the height by adding seat pads of varying thickness on the seat (as well as padding for knees).

What's the advantage of a kneeling thwart over a seat? Can I angle the seat instead of installing a kneeling thwart? Or just add an angled pad (maybe cut from minicell foam) to the seat? I'm able to get my feet under the seat and back out without much trouble, so the height adjustment is just to get my rear end at the proper height, not to fit my feet under it.
 
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Yes you can angle the seat. A contoured front rail on the seat helps too. I try to adjust the cant and height to maintain about 60+% of my weight on the seat.
Kneeling thwart is usually used as a third position in a tandem to facilitate solo paddling but you certainly could use one instead of a seat. It would be lighter but in my experience not nearly as comfortable.
 
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We have a new article, by Tim Burris, in the Crosspost, the journal of the Freestyle Committee of the United States Canoeing Association. It is titled KNEELING PART 1 and is the 1st of a 3 part series. This article and many more are available for viewing at https://freestylecanoeing.com/blog/
I don't kneel. Period. A few hours of kneeling and I have sore knees for a week. I want to learn a lot of the freestyle stuff, but sitting puts me at a serious disadvantage. I'm going to experiment with different set-ups and see if I can find a way of kneeling that doesn't make me a cripple.
 
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What is a saddle?

Usually shaped to fit the person and boat. Kneel while straddled like a horse saddle.
 
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What is a saddle?
I think he was probably referring to a foam pedestal like most whitewater open boaters use. Usually constructed from minicell foam these days, they come in different shapes and designs. Below is shown one type which also has a belt that functions as a thigh strap. Obviously, you can use the pedestal without the strap if you wish. A pedestal does have the advantage of presenting less of an entrapment hazard as you do not need to get your feet out from under anything if you capsize. On the other hand you are sort of confined to a central position. You can't slide over toward one gunwale or keep your heels close together if you like to do those sorts of things.
Viper11_three.jpg

One thing that I did not see mentioned in this thread that can make kneeling more comfortable is the use of ankle blocks. These can be made out of minicell in any height and shape that best suits and I have seen a lot of variations. I usually use a simple half circle shape as below. In whitewater boats I glue these in with contact cement but they can also be attached with Velcro or left loose and positioned or repositioned to suit.IMG_2290.JPG
 
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