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Getting Out of a Kayak With Bad Knees

Getting out of a kayak can be a task for those who are in a healthy physical state but for individuals with bad knees, it becomes much more challenging.

two older people kayaking

For some, their bad knees may be triggered by stiffness after being sat down for too long, and for others, it may be the result of a previous injury.

Kayaking is enjoyed by many and your ability to participate shouldn’t be decided by how physically ‘’well’’ you are, but rather everyone should have the opportunity to engage in the sport. 

If you struggle with bad knees you may be wondering if it is possible to get out of a kayak without inflicting further pain upon yourself.

Below, we have outlined some techniques that will help you to get out of your kayak with ease. Remember, it is important to ensure that you dismount from a kayak safely without putting pressure on your joints.

How to Get Out of a Kayak With Bad Knees

If you have any concerns you should consult your doctor as they will be able to inform you of what you can do and possible limitations. Your doctor will also be able to provide valuable advice regarding exercises that you can practice to enhance the strength of your knees and joints.

older man kayaking

The kayak that you select will also determine how easy it is to get out of. Equipping yourself with a kayak that caters to your needs will make the task much less challenging.

For many, a sit-on-top kayak provides the preferred option because users are provided with more flexibility to move their knees rather than being restricted to a smaller and more confined area.

You can also sit with your legs straight ahead of you which some individuals with bad knees may find more comfortable.

Sit on top kayaks also tend to be easier to get out of because as implied by the name, you are sitting on top of the kayak rather than inside it.

Investing in the wrong type of equipment is only going to place more unwanted stress and pressure onto your knees.

Exit the Kayak in Shallow Water

The first method will require you to paddle the kayak until you reach shallow water. The water should be between 6 to 12 inches deep.

older people carrying a kayak

If needed you can use your paddle to ensure that the water where you have stopped is deep enough, but this only works if your paddle is long enough. Then you can move both of your feet to the side of the kayak and turn your body to the same side.

Plant your feet onto the surface beneath you and release your grasp of your paddle, of course ensuring that it is safely secured to your kayak.

You can then use your arms to hold onto the kayak and this will ensure that you are properly supported and will also help you to maintain your balance as you stand in the water.

Using the kayak for support as you dismount from the edge will relieve any pressure that may be felt by your knees.

Exit the Kayak in Deeper Water

The next method is advised for those who suffer from more severely bad knees and should only be opted for those who don’t mind getting completely wet and submerged in water.

two seniors kayaking

Instead of paddling inshore, this method will require you to paddle until you are slightly offshore. The water shouldn’t be too deep but rather waste high. 

Before preparing to get out of your kayak conduct a quick inspection of the surrounding waters. This task is of course going to be easier in clearer waters as it will allow you to see if there are any potential hazards.

When you are happy with the depth of the water and you are sure that there are no obstacles in the way, you can dismount from the kayak by rolling out of it and into the water.

Once you have entered the water you can then use your feet to stand up. The water will also help to take the pressure off your knees.

older man kayaking

As mentioned this method requires you to get wet as you will also need to swim once you are in the water. The complexity of exiting your kayak in deeper water is also going to depend on the type of kayak that you have.

Sit on top kayaks will likely make it easier because you don’t have to alleviate your lower body from a more enclosed space.

If you have any hesitations concerning this method, you will likely find it beneficial to research the best exit technique before attempting to try it yourself.

Other Factors to Consider

Take Lessons If Needed

There is no shame in taking lessons if you feel as though they may be beneficial to you.

2 people in separate kayaks

The majority of instructors have experience of working with other individuals who have similar conditions so they will be able to share their knowledge with you so that you can work around any challenges posed by your bad knees. 

Participation in private lessons will also allow you to practice your exit strategy so you then have much more confidence in taking your skills out to the water without assistance.

Protect Your Knees

The area inside a kayak cockpit can be quite restricting and the inability to move your legs as freely as you like will place more pressure onto your joints. That’s why it is always important to get the right size kayak.

person paddling a kayak

To eradicate such issues you can secure knee pads to the sides of your kayak to reduce the harshness of the exterior against your legs and knees.

Alternatively, you may wish to wear these knee pads as doing so will not only protect your legs and knees when you are inside the kayak but also when you are in the process of getting out of the kayak.

Final Thoughts

While bad knees can make kayaking a little more difficult, such conditions do not have to stop you from enjoying the sport altogether. There are many techniques that you can implement which will make the process significantly easier.

Remember to consult a doctor with any concerns that you have beforehand. Also, try and follow low-impact methods and remember to ask for help when it is required.

If you’re looking for a better-fitting kayak, check out these choices that we think you might like!

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