How To Get Out Of A Kayak With Bad Knees: 3 Methods & Bonus

by Jason | Last Updated:   October 8th, 2022
How To Get Out Of A Kayak With Bad Knees: 3 Methods & Bonus

If you’ve been struck with bad knees, you’ll know the struggles of getting out of a kayak, and that’s without thinking about getting into the kayak.

Even people with two functioning knees will know the difficulties of getting into a small kayak.

If you’ve been struggling with your bad knees and don’t feel like you’re going to be able to get in and out of the kayak, don’t worry!

In this article, I’ll be explaining how to get out of a kayak with bad knees. But, before getting into that, let’s talk about some rules you should follow before attempting it:

Tips For Kayaking With Bad Knees

Before I went into the methods of getting in and out of the kayak with bad knees, I first wanted to give you some tips to follow.

Most of them are very simple, but they can really make your time on the water more enjoyable.

Check them out and see what you think:

Make Sure You Consult A Doctor Before Going

Here’s the thing:

I don’t know how bad of a condition your stiff knees are, so I can’t really advise whether you’d be alright getting out on the water, but your doctor will.

Before getting out on the water again, you should check out with your local physician, who has a good idea of your medical history.

They’ll be able to give you great advice and let you know which exercise you can do without causing too much damage.

Choose The Right Type Of Kayak

One thing that’s guaranteed to help you out is choosing the right kayak for you. It can make a huge difference when it comes to the pain levels you experience while kayaking.

And as always, you have two types of kayaks to think about:

  1. Sit Inside Kayaks
  2. Sit-On-Top Kayaks

So, let’s explain a little bit about the two types to help discover which one is going to be the best fit for you:

Sit-inside kayaks are great, but they aren’t very accommodating for people with bad knees. They have tighter spaces, making it harder to get in and out of the kayak.

To make it worse:

Your knees are always connected to the kayak and can be put under pressure. I’d suggest making sure you use some knee padding for a more comfortable trip.

On the other hand, you have sit-on-top kayaks, which tend to be a lot better for people with bad knees.

The cockpit is open, so you don’t have to struggle with getting in and out of the kayak, so you can simply step on and off. You also have a higher sitting position, which means your knees aren’t as bent.

To make things better:

Some sit-on-top kayaks allow you to stand up and paddle, which means you can stretch your legs out when you need to.

Find The Right Launch & Exit Spots

Getting in and out of your kayak can be tricky, even if you have two fully functioning knees. And this can be made more challenging if you don’t choose the best places to get in your kayak.

You should try and go for places that are more accessible with a short distance walk to your car, preferably with a flat walk to the lake.

You should also try and choose places that have a sandy bank. It’s usually smoother and more even than the rocky counterpart.

You should also look to launch and exit your kayak in shallow water, no more than knee height. This makes things as low impact as possible, which can make it easier to maneuver when exiting the kayak.

This will make it a lot easier for people that are struggling with limited knee movement to get inside their kayak.

Take Private Lessons

If you’re still not convinced you’re ready to take on kayaking with bad knees, why not book yourself a private lesson with a professional? It might give you the confidence boost you need to get back in the water doing what you love.

The great thing about using a kayaking instructor is they are used to and trained to deal with people with disabilities.

And this means they can show you ways to get around your disabilities and likely give you a helping hand into the kayak.

Together, you’ll be able to work out the best way for you to get in and out of the kayak in a low-impact way. They might even be able to get you in contact with people that are suffering from the same issue as you.

And finally, you’ll be able to brush up on your skills and get the best paddling techniques from a professional. And whether you’ve got bad knees or not, the extra experience can make a world of difference.

Stretch It Out & Warm-Up

If you’ve done any sport throughout your life, you’ll know how important it is to warm up before you get started.

Loosening up your muscles and tendons around your knee can be super beneficial and help reduce pain when you’re kayaking.

Just make sure you consult the doctor before you start stretching. They’ll be able to give you some low-impact stretches you can do. You can also try some exercises for bad knees, it might help you strengthen them.

Wear A Knee Brace

How To Get Out Of A Kayak With Bad Knees

If your knees aren’t in the best condition, it’s good to give some extra support by wearing a knee brace

When you start paddling intensely, it’s pretty common to use the lower part of your body to get the power going. But this can strain your knees, which is where the knee brace can come in handy.

Of course, I’d check out with your doctor first to see if they recommend it. But, it could provide you with a bit of pain relief and take some strain off your joints.

Position Your Knees Correctly

Keeping your knees in the same position for hours and hours can be super tough, and that’s the same for people that don’t have knee pain.

And one thing that can help to alleviate the pain is to add some support under your knees—one of the best ways we’ll mention in the next section.

But you can also change the position of your foot pedals, which will help to change your posture and give your knees a break.

Get The Right Equipment 

When you’re paddling with bad knees, you need to think about getting the right equipment. This might mean you have to spend a little bit more money in the long run, but it will be well worth it.

Things like having the right paddle, finding the best kayak seat cushion, some knee pads, and adjustable foot pedals can make a difference.

So, here are a few things I think you should take a look at to make your adventure more comfortable:

  • Knee Pads: Some kayaks will not feel very comfortable around the edges, which can lead to severe pain in your knees. Attaching some knee pads could make your life easier by reducing the pain.
  • Footrests: You’ll need footrests to plant the balls of your feet and have your toes pointing outward while your heels are angled to the center. This should help you angle your knees outwards with your legs applying uniform pressure on the thigh braces.
  • Keep Your Legs Supported & Elevated: One of the best things you can do is place a dry bag under your knees. Changing the angle and keeping your legs elevated can help remove the pain and reduce the strain from your joints.

Just taking these few tips into account will significantly increase the enjoyability of your kayaking experience.

Don’t Be Ashamed To Ask For Help

Coming to terms that you’re not as fit as you used to be isn’t easy for anyone. Everyone wants to bounce around like they were 18 again, but unfortunately, the world doesn’t let us.

And while you might feel ashamed having to ask for your help, you should think about it this way:

“Are you really ready to give up on the sport you love?”

If the answer is no, there should be no shame in asking for help. If anything, it’s applaudable that you’re willing to fight through your health problems to continue kayaking!

And let’s face it, the kayaking community is pretty good, so no one will even bat an eye to help you. So, don’t be afraid to ask for help; it’s either that or give up your favorite weekend activity.

How To Get Out Of A Kayak With Bad Knees: 3 Kayak Exit Methods

How To Get Out Of A Kayak With Bad Knees

Now it’s time for the section you all came here for. Getting out of the kayak by yourself isn’t easy when you have bad knees. So, in this section, I want to introduce you to a couple of methods you can use to battle this problem:

Method 1: Exit From Shallow Water

This is an excellent method for people that don’t want to get too wet, so let’s take a look at how things work:

  • When you’re ready to get out of the kayak, you need to paddle and find some shallow water for you to get out from. Ideally, you’re looking for a place that’s no deeper than 2 feet. You can test the depth by using your paddle shaft to see how deep the water is; ideally, you should be next to the shore.
  • Basically, you have to paddle the bow of your kayak until it’s grounded in the sand. This will help to stabilize the kayak when you’re ready to get out of the boat. If you have a sandy beach nearby, that’s even better.
  • If you have a sit-inside kayak, you’re going to have to shimmy your body out and then swing your legs round to get your feet out of the cockpit. Once both feet are out, you can put them in the water and stand up.
  • If you don’t have the beach, you might want to turn your kayak parallel to the shore so you can use it to brace yourself.

Method 2: Roll Yourself Out Of The Kayak

  • I’m sure you’re aware that this method involves you rolling out of the kayak into the water.
  • Before you try this method out, I’d suggest making sure you have a life jacket and that it’s secured around your body.
  • Paddle to an area that’s relatively close to the shore until it’s about waist deep. You’re probably looking at about half the length of your paddle shaft.
  • Check for anything you might hurt yourself on with the paddle and your eyes, things like large rocks or tree stumps under the water.
  • Now it’s a case of flipping yourself over and pushing yourself out of the kayak until your feet are out.
  • Now, it’s time to find your footing, stand up, and pull your kayak to shore.
  • Make sure you’re ready for the cold and have the correct clothing to keep yourself warm. 

Method 3: Ask For Help

  • Get yourself as close to the edge as possible, so it’s easy for someone to help you.
  • Make sure your paddle is secure.
  • Swing your legs around, pull yourself up and out, and get your friend to help you out of the kayak.

How To Get Inside A Kayak With Bad Knees

How To Get Inside A Kayak With Bad Knees

It’s all very well learning how to get out of the kayak with bad knees, but it’s just as challenging getting in the kayak if you have bad knees. So, in this section, I want to give you two techniques you can try out:

Method 1: Sit-inside Style

  • Find a launch spot for your kayak; you’re looking for shallow water, ideally no higher than your knee but below the waist.
  • Position your kayak so it’s perpendicular to the shoreline or the back you plan to exit from.
  • Stand to the side of your kayak about a free inch in front of the kayak seat.
  • Get your leg over the overside, so you’re straddling the kayak with both feet on the floor.
  • Place your hands on the side of the hull to keep it in place, or get someone to hold it for you.
  • Slide your feet inside the kayak while you lower your put into the seat.
  • Push yourself off the bank and get out on the water.

Method 2: Sit-On-Top Style

  • Push your sit-on-top kayak into shallow water, so it’s about knee-deep. If you have someone with you, you can keep a bit of the kayak on the shore.
  • Stand to the side of the inflatable kayaks with your back to it.
  • Lower your butt onto the seat with someone holding your hand or the kayak.
  • Use your arms to swing each leg into the kayak until you’re sitting there comfortably.

Final Thoughts & Takeaways

As I mentioned earlier in the article, it’s never nice to realize your body isn’t in the same shape it used to be.

But that doesn’t mean you have to give up the activity you love; you just have to find your way around things.

And I hope this article has helped you do that. Just make sure you consult the doctor before you get out there. I can’t give you the medical advice you need, but I can give you some tips when you’re ready.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Kayaking Hard On Your Knees?

Although kayaking is a pretty low-impact exercise, you have to keep your knees in one position for a long time. Luckily some of the tips I’ve mentioned above will help you keep your knees in good nick.

How Do You Get Out A Kayak Gracefully?

Unfortunately, there’s no graceful way of getting yourself out of the kayak. But, I have got a great article about how to get in and out of a kayak safely. It gives you all the tips and tricks you need, so you look a little bit more professional. 

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Hey, my name's Jason, and before I was a writer, I worked as an outdoor activity instructor where I took groups kayaking and camping. Now I use my personal experiences to share tips and tricks I've learned over the years. For as long as I can remember, I've been passionate about the outdoors, and now I want to share that passion with my readers.