It has been a month or so since getting hold of the Dagger Juice 6.9. It really is a nice boat, with great handling. So far it seems to be very stable through features, and it tracks amazingly well for a shot boat. I have been having one issue however that has prevented me falling head over heels for it. Pins and needles, and dead legs!
Now, I had this issue with my Mini Mystic too for a long while until I somehow managed to solve the problem. After a while of messing around with padding in the seat of the Juice, adjusting hip pads etc, etc, along with an absolute age crafting some foot blocks I decided to go back to square one.
I read up all that I could about this problem in kayaks, and while there were all sorts of weird and wonderful theories abound there did appear to be one constant. Time and again the sciatic nerve came up in the various forum conversations, and it seemed like the perfect candidate for my issue. The back of my leg would start with a light but numb type of pain, and eventually my legs, mainly my right one, would go to sleep. Not good if I needed to swim! In fact the problem was so bad that when I tried to get out of the boat I almost broke my ankle as I was putting pressure onto it without feeling anything!
Today I decided to nip it in the bud and find out once and for all where the problem lay. I took out the hip padding and relaxed the back band as much as possible. My foot position was relaxed and not pushed against the foot brace. If I still had dead legs in this configuration I would know that it was the seat. If not I would know to look elsewhere and I could start adding outfitting into the equation to track down the source of the issue.
As it turned out it wasn’t long before my feet started to develop pins and needles. Bingo! It was definitely the seat causing the problem. Handily I had brought along some flat bits of minicell foam with a mind to placing them in certain areas of the seat to test what would happen. I first tried them under the rear of my, well, rear end. Pins and needles still occurred. So I decided to use my brain.
I now decided to put the bits of minicell foam slap bang in the middle of the seat towards the back. This would mean that the majority of my weight would now be on the centre of my posterior, with the sciatic nerve area being relieved. Note that the aim was to decrease pressure on the sciatic nerve area, not to eliminate it, as I still need responsive contact with the seat for edging purposes.
The result of doing this was an almost instant relief from pins and needles! Now, I am not going to declare victory just yet. I need to fashion the foam and fix it down under the stock seat pad. This may or may not work as I am not sure how well the seat pad will flex enough to relieve enough pressure when it is placed over the foam. I am going to work on this tomorrow and will take some photos of what I am doing so that those with a similar problem can have a go themselves.
It does stand to reason. If you draw on paper a shape that still allows some contact with the butt cheeks, but with the majority of general pressure on the centre, you come up with a shape that is very similar to a bicycle saddle. Given that sciatic nerve pressure can be the bane of many kayaker’s lives I am left wondering why most stock kayak seats tend to distribute pressure across quite evenly instead of being designed outright to relieve pressure in those areas.
Just to confirm I wasn’t getting overly excited at nothing, with the test minicell pads in place I ratcheted up the back band a bit. Not too much as this can also pinch on the sciatic nerve. I also braced my feet and knees in more and then paddled around for an hour or so with nary a twinge.
So there you have it. A possible solution to my dead leg and pins and needles issue with the caveat being that I won’t jump for joy just yet until it is working well under the seat pad. Pardon the pun, but premature celebrations do have a habit of coming back to bite you in the arse!