Left leg/butt pain/numbness

Hey all,

Been paddling for about 6 months, done some great races, Pailolo, around Lanai. I have now been focused on one man for about 2 months and just completed my first Maliko this last Saturday. That being said, in the one man I suffer some pain in my left butt and leg. In addition at time I have numbness in my left foot. I have been told this is due to leaning left, ama side, while paddling. Any suggestion on drills on how to over come this? I have thought about jumping in a surfski for a while and see if that helped. I have no issues with flying the ama, but I am left handed and prefer to paddle on the left....any thoughts are helpful.



Submitted by joelmkrause on Tue, 11/13/2012 - 4:21pm

I'm having the same experience. It does not happen all the time - but it is frequent. And responses would be appreciated. I think I'm pinching a nerve in my left glute,

#1 Tue, 11/13/2012 - 4:55pm

MIne usually is because of leaning left. Just rig you canoe more stable(depending on canoe, push back iako deeper) Should fix the problem.

#2 Tue, 11/13/2012 - 5:58pm

MIne usually is because of leaning left. Just rig you canoe more stable(depending on canoe, push back iako deeper) Should fix the problem.

#3 Tue, 11/13/2012 - 5:58pm

Left leg/butt numbness is common for a new paddler to OC-1.
As others have stated it has to do with leaning left too much.
As your experience level grows you will learn to put more weight onto your paddle when on the right side.
This will allow blood flow on your left side and the numbness will stop.

Having your boat rigged properly will make it easier to paddle on the right.

If you don't feel this will solve the problem, check your seat. Some people add pads in places or shave areas down.

#4 Tue, 11/13/2012 - 6:09pm

paddle more on the right. Be patient for the waves- pounding down too hard on the left. Lean forward on waves to increase center of balance by being lower. Add some padding to the seat. Try all of these and see what works.Time on the water will overcome a lot of the problems.

#5 Tue, 11/13/2012 - 6:59pm

As a novice paddler I too suffered from the same problem. I tried cutting a hole in the padding to relieve pressure, and adding softer padding. This helped but not much. By problem was a combination of leaning to the left too much and weak arms. Being 6'3" in a regular XM made me wanting for more room. I had Kai make me one of his new XML extended cockpit and my problem was 90% solved over night. Very happy with the boat because the little extra releases by pelvic bone from pressing on the sciatic nerve. I still have to work on my form but now I can comfortably paddle long distances without my leg becoming numb. Very happy with my XML. After demoing a china made XM my problem became clear. More legroom in those also boats. Also a great choice for tall paddlers.

#6 Tue, 11/13/2012 - 7:37pm

like everyone said,more time in the canoe and then you will lean less on the left.Even switching from one canoe to another one can do that.I got used to a Pegasus,then a Vantage,then when I tried a friend's extended cockpit Pueo,the numbness came back again,I had it rigged too light on the ama,and compensated by leaning on the left .
aaiello,how do the two XM compare ,the regular and the extended,for a Maliko downwind run?

#7 Wed, 11/14/2012 - 10:01am

Kava, no comparison. My center of gravity is more forward on the XML allowing me to go faster, connect better, and drop in to more bumps with less effort. This also translates into faster flat water speeds. You should Demo one if you get a chance. On the regular xm would have my seat all the way back making the stern heavy causing the boat to push more water.

#8 Wed, 11/14/2012 - 3:51pm

mahalo nui for the info aaiello,very helpful,I am waiting to demo one,Kai said the same thing basically.

#9 Thu, 11/15/2012 - 4:50pm

Another long overdue reason to ask builders for adjustable pedals guys. To trim boat out best for your height, weight and position. Not to mention EZ to vary boat for different conditions ...


#10 Thu, 11/15/2012 - 5:01pm

I have only been paddling oc1 and oc2 for about 2 years, so not the go-to guy for answers here, but... before getting my own boat I paddled on club boats and friend's boats, so lots of seat time in various types. Some boats seemed really bad and the left leg would be numb before going a mile. Other boats it would happen after an hour or so. There was an oc2 seat that never gave me problems. So I get my own boat, leg goes numb after 40 minutes or so. Changed the ama adjustment, paddled more right side. Still the same. Swapped the foam seat pad with the one that felt good on the oc2, problem solved. I can go hours on it without issues. The pads looked very similar in the way they are carved, but felt different. The better one seems like my weight is more on the center of the pad, the worse one actually feels like it fits better overall and the sides feel slightly narrower, but it also might be just a bit stiffer foam. Anyway changing the foam seat worked for me.

#11 Thu, 11/15/2012 - 8:10pm

Jumping into a surfski is a funny thing, muscle memory makes me sit in a surfski so it is heeled a bit to the port side. I don't get numb on the left side and prefer to paddle on the right in an OC1 since I can always brace with the paddle that way.

#12 Sat, 11/17/2012 - 5:24pm

You could consider researching exercises and stretches for people suffering from sciatica and piriformis syndrome. You may not be suffering from these conditions exactly but with the numbness in your foot, the stretches etc. may be helpful.

#13 Sun, 11/18/2012 - 9:09pm

Thanks all, great feed back.

I am a tall guy, at 6'5' and 190. I currently have a Zypher and have tried pushing as much water time as possible I did Maliko this weekend and an hour and half paddle on Saturday. That being said, it was painful. Butt pain on the left side was killer, not to mention the tingling toes. I try as much as possible to paddle on the right, and I do prefer this side for the ability to low brace. That being said, in flat water the leg goes numb faster then in bumps. I do have wide hips for a tall skinny guy, I know that in a 6 man I actually can not fit in seat one my hips are just to wide. Gone try the surf ski this weekend and start practicing that to see if it can help with my balance. I have carved and worked with three different seats and received the same response from each one. Hope to get over this soon, it is really holding back my paddling right now. Might have to just contact Ka'a....

#14 Tue, 11/20/2012 - 8:10am

If experiencing left leg numbness, etc., try paddling with your knees together--I know a paddler who used to tie his with a bungee cord to prevent that left one from falling left. Keeping knees together (touching, if easier to remember), will help you stay centered, and/or weight the right hip, and might alleviate the common issue around having the left leg fall asleep.

#15 Tue, 11/20/2012 - 9:57am

Earl Almario in LA makes custom seats- I am trying to get one as I hear he has solved many a numb left leg problem.

#16 Tue, 11/20/2012 - 7:26pm

Seat modification for most seats is not too difficult. When out paddling, the pressure region should become apparent as it will become tender. Usually it is near (just outside) the ischeal tuberosity (prominent okole bone). This may be why the wider hipped paddlers compress the region on relatively narrow hulls. Simply find the tender spot and then lean into the seat with your finger. Scratch, dent or poke into the foam to leave a small mark.
Use a plaster shaver tool which are found at most hardware stores to carve out a fist sized area 1/4 to 1/2" into the foam. Do this on both sides of the seat. A common mistake is to only do the left. This mistake will make you lean left as you drop into the dip in the seat. The end result with both sides done is an off-weighting on the nerve at the mod. site but also you will carry more weight in the center of the seat like a bike seat. Start out with a smaller shallower modification at first. Wide hipped paddlers can also widen out the seat with this tool. Ensure you leave at least an 1" foam up against the hull as it does compact out over time.

#17 Wed, 11/21/2012 - 6:01am

The answer is obvious and very simple: put the ama on the right side. There is no taboo against it. They do it out in Makaha all the time. Get yourself an old OC-1 that has this capability, and trust me, your Okole will be Happy! The objective is to balance symmetries. See if your canoe maker can make an ama on the right canoe for rehab purpose and kona wind days?

#18 Wed, 11/21/2012 - 7:07am

please disregard that last statement about putting the ama on the right side.You might as well not put an ama altogether, ,just paddle a kayak.I even seen a kayak that goes surprisingly fast with only foot pedals,and no 'okole numbness there.

#19 Wed, 11/21/2012 - 9:29pm

The only time I'd "disregard that last statement about putting the ama on the right side" would be that I might develop the same condition on the opposite cheek. But so far so good in paddling OC-1 for over 20+ years with off and on Piriformis Syndrome. Fortunately, I still have my old Horizon and Honu OC-1s around for rehab purposes in which I can put the ama on the right side and take the pressure off my left cheek. So if you see me in the Ala Wai, paddling my rudderless Horizon with the ama on the right, please don't yell that I've "got the ama on the wrong side." I'm just resting my okole so I can paddle the newer generation canoes where the ama is fixed on the left.

Regarding kayaks, yes that's how I paddled my Holua surfski before wing paddles were available using a very short canoe paddle. Later, we converted these old surfskis to OC-1s to make them more stable in the surf using single blade paddles. Back then, I can still hear the old timers say: "no matter what, you still know the ama is on the left."

#20 Thu, 11/22/2012 - 1:52am

happy Thanksgiving Koacanoe and everyone else.i just pau check the surf report for tomorrow so i know which boards to leave in the truck. Today here on Maui was a great surf Thanksgiving Day,as is almost always the case,we so lucky.Yea,about that kayak with the foot pedals,that bugga really goes fast,my friend has one and goes out of Maliko and trolls and catches ono and mahi,unreal.and his 'okole neva gets sore.I grew up paddling not koa canoes,but 'ulu and mango back in Tahiti,my grandfather would makes us paddle every morning before school,those canoes were so heavy,and i was like 6 at the most,and my sister 9.he would throw rocks at us if we tried to stay too close to shore when windy.I digress,but tie in to the thread about starting young to paddle in Tahiti.in those days,you started even younger than now,cause neva have too many cars and was faster than walking to school or to the store.Aloha,Ia orana.

#21 Thu, 11/22/2012 - 1:28pm


Check out this video of the foot pedal kayak:

Even beat the Olympic champ!

#22 Fri, 11/23/2012 - 7:20am

that's da one

#23 Fri, 11/23/2012 - 1:59pm

Please register or login to post a comment.

Page loaded in 0.187 seconds.