Getting numb on the OC1


Wondering what you pros out there do to overcome numbness in the leg or butt when paddling on the OC1. 20 minutes into it and my left leg starts acting up. I have to stop and stretch to get the blood flowing but pretty much takes me out of the race. Do I customize the seat, reset the iakos, or just get over it?

Submitted by Alopaddler on Fri, 03/18/2005 - 4:44pm

great question.I'm no Pro - but while there are some paddlers who this is an ongoing medical challenge for, the majority of the problem comes down to
1) body position
2) rigging level, heavy or light.
3) seat.

1) the left leg usually goes numb cuz you are probably leaning that way unintentionally, even very subtly - work on sitting tall and re rigging the canoe so you are sitting level in calm water.( on your "sit bones") you may go in a few times, but you'll become a better balanced and comfortable paddler.....

2) you've not said which type of canoe, but the majority of canoes, even those with straight iakos like Kolea, Makia, C-Lion, Tevanui have adjustment that effects the run and lean of the canoe.

3) a good microcell foam seat is rigid enough to hold it's shape, but soft eough to protect your okole.. you can usually work these with a wire brush to customize them to your a** - most canoe dealers can order you a seat for your canoe.. or get creative! make your own!

good luck!

Open Ocean Outriggers

#1 Fri, 03/18/2005 - 5:11pm

Thanks Dude. Will try that. BTW I paddle the Naia, makia, and the surfrigger. And despite what I've seen in other postings, the surfrigger is a good boat for most conditions.

#2 Fri, 03/18/2005 - 5:28pm

I'm no pro but I found a simple way to stop the pain. The pain is caused by the pinching of the sciatic nerve that runs down your butt (close to your butt bones) to your foot. The pain can be caused by a number of factors including the seat design, but is mainly a result of an uneven distribution of your weight to one side. While remedying this problem by "not leaning" heavily to one side is ideal, it's a lot easier said than done. I remedied the problem by cutting two large holes where my butt bones contact the seat to relieve any pressure on the sciatic nerve. The holes are about 1-1/2 - 2" in diamater and go all the way through the seat. If your seat is thick enough, the bony points of your butt where the nerve runs will never come into contact with the seat. I've seen other paddlers put holes in their seat and I've also read about this cure on some kayaking website. It worked for me.

#3 Fri, 03/18/2005 - 11:26pm

Now that's an idea! Will carefully plot out the spot for that hole and try it out. Thanks!!

#4 Mon, 03/21/2005 - 11:16am

My left foot, lower leg and butt used to fall asleep about 20 minutes into a paddle.
Learning to sit level and increasing my lower back flexibility both helped.
I think increased lower back flexibility helped more (being able to sit upright with the pelvis tilting forward with straight lower back vs. backward with lower back slightly rounded) as the pressure point that was causing the pain is now further back and most of my weight is in front of it.

#5 Wed, 03/23/2005 - 9:49am

I also have a Naia and my okole and leg used to get numb before I first modified and then changed the seat. I have a contact number for a local (Hawaii) seat maker who is reasonable and his seat is much better than the one from John Martin for the Naia. If you want, you can e-mail me and I can provide you with that information. Aloha

#6 Sun, 03/27/2005 - 10:16pm

I made my own by purchasing a 14" X 14" X 4" minicel foam blank from a local OC-1 manufacturer for $20 and by following the instructions found at

If you can't find a blank locally, you can buy one off the web from places like these:

I used a butter knife to shape the foam and then a 4-1/2" grinder to grind it down.

By doing it myself, I made a seat that's made specifically for my derriere. No hassling with a one-size-fits-all seat.

#7 Tue, 03/29/2005 - 12:05pm

All great suggestions. Thanks gang! Will try to find that minicell foam locally first before I put holes in my seat. If that doesn't work out, I'll find your email. Fa'afetai!

#8 Wed, 03/30/2005 - 1:16pm

Where are you located?

#9 Thu, 03/31/2005 - 9:17am

I'm in Pago. I've checked out the local hardware stores and didn't have any so I ordered from kayak outfitting and customize.

#10 Thu, 03/31/2005 - 4:29pm

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