Articles, Skills

How To Get Out Of A Kayak With Bad Knees (2 Great Techniques)

Getting out of a Kayak itself can be a huge challenge, now imagine doing the same with stiff, and painful knees. Sounds like a nightmare, doesn’t it? Thankfully, there are certain ways that can make getting out of the Kayak with bad knees possible. 

If you have bad knees, here are two simple techniques to get back on the shore from the water with your knees intact.

Technique 1: Paddle Towards the Shallow Water, and Exit

paddling technique

To get out of a kayak with bad knees, gently paddle to shallow water(as deep as 6-12 inches and not more), take your legs out of the Kayak, and gradually turn your upper and lower body in the same direction as the shore. Find the surface under the water, and begin disembarking(you can use the paddle and your upper body to prop yourself up).

Once you’ve steadily ground yourself, release the paddle. If your knee is hurting a bit at this point, hold on to your Kayak for support, and don’t move. Once you’ve gained your composure, and balance, you can secure your Kayak and the paddle, and move onto the shore. 

Technique 2: Paddle Towards Deep Waters and Exit

paddling through

This method is suitable for people with severely injured knees. Also, if you’re thinking of trying out this technique, prepare to get completely wet.

For this one, you’d have to paddle offshore, contrary to what we did in the first technique, and use a life jacket.

Move to waist-deep water, and skim the surrounding waters. Make sure that there are no underwater risks that you need to be wary of before disembarking your Kayak. It would be ideal if the surrounding water has good water clarity and visibility.

Once you’ve made sure that everything is okay, roll out from your Kayak and right into the water. This is the “getting completely wet” part we warned you about.

Gently put yourself upright and find the ground. The water and lifejacket will ease the pressure on your knees, so getting yourself upright in deep water won’t trouble you as much.

Take some time to regain your normal breathing pattern. Then, slowly swim towards the surface. If on your way your knees begin to throb, wait for the pain to subside before continuing your swim back to the shore.

How Do You Get Out Of a Kayak With Bad Knees – Factors to Consider

Before you try the above-mentioned techniques, you need to consider certain factors to ensure that you don’t end up injuring yourself further or don’t aggravate your knee pain. (1)

Here is what you need to keep in mind.

Take Lessons

lessons on kayaking

A lot of professional Kayakers suffer from excruciating knee pain at times, so you might not be the only one to face this challenge. Perhaps before you try these methods, it’s best to take lessons from instructors who’ve faced this issue at some point in their life.

You can practice your Kayak exit strategy with an instructor before you venture to do it on your own. 

Shield You Knees

fun in kayaking

A Kayak’s cockpit can put immense movement restraints on your leg, and your joints, putting additional pressure on them. To deal with this issue, you can use your knee pads to protect your joints from the Kayak’s surface by securing it to the Kayak. This way, if your knee accidentally brushes across the sides of the Kayak, your knee would be met by the comfort of the knee pads.

You can also wear your knee pads, to again, protect your knees from brushing against hard surfaces. You could also consult a physician before your Kayaking trip and ask for professional medical tips to keep your knees safe while Kayaking.

Ask for Someone’s Help

If you’re having trouble getting out of your Kayak due to intense pain, then you can wait for help to arrive, and ask for a hand. There must be other Kayakers where you are Kayaking as well, so wait for them to show up, and don’t shy away from getting help. Once you’ve safely reached the shore, consult a doctor, and have your bad knee tended to. Take a few days off to allow the knee to heal before hopping back on the boat.

Choosing the Right Kayak

You can easily Kayak with a bad knee if you have the right kind of Kayak in your inventory. “Sit on top Kayaks” are perfect for people who don’t want to put pressure on their knees, as getting in and out of such Kayaks is very easy. These Kayaks would give you plenty of legroom, as your lower body would essentially be sitting on top of the boat, rather than within. In addition to this, choose lighter types of Kayaks that wouldn’t give your bad knees a tough time. 

How Do You Get Out Of a Kayak With Bad Knees – Additional Tips

Here are some additional tips for people who are considering Kayaking with a bad knee. 

Stretch Before Kayaking

Before you hop into the Kayak, perform some joint stretching exercises. Once you begin Kayaking, your knees won’t get much room to move around. Keeping your knees in one position can prove to be harmful, more so if you don’t stretch them beforehand. To placate the damage, perform some doctor-recommended joint stretching exercises to warm them up a bit. (2)

Invest in Good-quality Kayaking Equipment 

Good-quality Kayaking equipment can help you considerably in keeping yourself safe from any possible hazards that this water sport can pose. While buying knee pads, ensure that you invest money in a good one. This is not the time to be frugal about your expenses, since it’s your physical health you’d be compromising with if it turns out to be a bad investment. Therefore, ensure that you’re armored with all the equipment you need to keep yourself protected. 

Position Your Legs and Knees Correctly

Since you will be sitting in your Kayak for a long time, you want to ensure that you’ve positioned your legs and knees properly. Depending upon the type of Kayak, ask an instructor what is the perfect way of positioning your legs.

The ideal positioning could vary from person to person because of differing leg builds.

For reference, you can observe and take notes on how professional kayakers position their legs inside the Kayak. With the right positioning, little to no pressure would be exerted on your knees. This way, you can keep your injured knees protected from potential dangers.

Go for Low-Impact Kayaking

If your knees are bad, we would suggest you not go for adventurous trips, and keep it a bit low-key to prevent putting unnecessary pressure on your knee.

We know nobody can stop a Kayaker from doing their thing, regardless of the circumstances, but you need to put certain precautionary measures in place if you want to Kayak with bad knees. Choose low-impact kayaking in a flat-water lake to be on the safe side.

You may want to check other learning and product article guides below. Until our next article!

(1) knee pain –
(2) joint stretching exercises –

How helpful was this article?

Were Sorry This Was Not Helpful!

Let us improve this post!

Please Tell Us How We Can Improve This Article.

About Julian Thompson

cb787c59d2808e1f609076e790ca977e?s=90&d=mm&r=gCertifications: Certified Kayaking Instructor (AKA)
Education: American Kayak Association
Lives In: Denver Colorado

I am a kayaking expert/instructor who has been fishing for over 15 years. Fishing is my passion, but kayaking keeps me on the water. I love to share my knowledge of techniques and tips with others. I live in Colorado with my wife and two kids and own a small kayak rental business On Grand Lake where I rent and instruct.