How to Get Out of a Kayak with Bad Knees: 12 Detailed Steps

Getting out of a kayak might seem tough with no prior experience, even when you’re physically fit. It might be even more daunting if you’re going to kayak with bad knees. But knee pain shouldn’t stop us from enjoying the trip, right?

Whether you have bad knees or not, getting off a kayak can be a breeze as long as you know the proper procedure. That’s what I’m going to help you with.

This article covers different techniques and ways to get into a kayak as well as getting out of one. By referring to them, you’ll be able to get off your kayak easily the next time you go on kayaking.

Not to mention, climbing into a kayak will be a piece of cake for you too after you’ve read the whole article.

Without further ado, let’s get started.

Is it possible to get out of a kayak with bad knees?

Yes, of course. As a matter of fact, it’s actually a pretty straightforward process. But you have to know the proper methods, as getting out of/into a kayak can get tricky sometimes even with good knees. The techniques outlined in this guide will help you to do it with ease.

Don’t worry, you don’t have to take a break from your favorite sport just because of bad knees.

How do I get out of a kayak with bad knees?

A proper seat position can be of great help. You’ll need some time to get used to the new position, but it will let you get out and get back in with lesser effort.

If getting wait isn’t a problem, using buoyancy as an aid can be an option. Otherwise, adjusting your equipment is the easiest way to reduce the discomfort and enjoy your time on the water without knee pain.

12 easy steps to exit a kayak with bad knees

Follow these steps and you can get out of your kayak without making your knees’ condition worse. After learning the methods, all you’ll need is practice!

Step 1 – Pick the right kayak

How to Get Out of a Kayak with Bad Knees

Choosing the right kayak can make a massive difference in your kayaking experience whether you suffer from stiff knees/chronic knee pain or not. Generally, stand-up kayaks would be your best bet.

Another thing you’d want to look out for is the cockpit type. Sit inside kayaks are easier to navigate and enter to/exit from. It also allows you to keep your legs straight.

Step 2 – Ask your doctor

doctors for How to Get Out of a Kayak with Bad Knees

Just like you would consult your doctor before trying a new sport, you should do the same before getting back into your favorite water sport.

I might be an experienced kayaker, but I’m not a doctor. I can only provide helpful advice and techniques, but you must check with your doctor before taking the leap, no pun intended.

Your physician knows the most about your health and healthcare history. Their advice regarding your knee injury mightn’t be easy to accept.

But the only way to not worsen it and recover from it is to follow their instructions.

3 – Use Knee Protection

knee protection

In the cockpit of a kayak, there’s typically very little legroom so your knees don’t have much space to move around. To make sure they don’t face any sort of pressure, you may attach knee pads to the sides.

They would provide adequate comfort and support for your knees allowing them to rest. Alternatively, you can wear kneepads. They work as a support for the knees and prevent joint stress.

Step 4 – Stretch before kayaking

stretching for How to Get Out of a Kayak with Bad Knees

Before you go kayaking, make sure to stretch your muscles in a way they don’t cause any stress to your knees. Warming up the muscles and joints helps greatly during paddling.

This also reduces the chance of getting knee pains on your trip.

Step 5 – Don’t save money on equipment


When it comes to kayaking equipment, there’s a lot of varieties to choose from. It might be tempting for the cheapest stuff, but trust me, you don’t want to do that.

As the adage goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Cheap paddles are simply pieces of plastics fastened by rods. You’d have a hard time using them and in the case of knee pain, it even gets worse.

Comparatively more expensive paddles come with grooves for improved traction and they’re made of higher quality material. A decent set of paddles won’t set you back much, but your upper back and arms will be in a lot more comfortable.

Likewise, try to get a comfortable padded seat with adjustable back support to avoid unnecessary discomfort or injuries.

Good quality equipment always pays dividends.

Step 6 – Try private lessons

Many Kayak Instructors have been working with people with serious injuries. Given their vast experience, they’re qualified to help you kayak with your knee pain.

In the case of knee issues, you can learn how to work out the right method of exiting from and entering the kayak properly from them. Plus, experienced kayakers can also teach you the basics of kayaking which is always a good thing.

Step 7 – Go for low impact kayaking

low impact kayaking

It is advised to go for low-impact kayaking to make sure there’s no stress on your knees. Try to find a flat water pond or a narrow lake nearby and go for kayaking there. Lakes usually have light traffic and pretty fun to kayak on.

Kayaking doesn’t always have to involve rumbling rivers.

Step 8 – Position your legs correctly

I’d recommend that you keep your legs raised during your trips, to reduce pressure on them.

If it’s a sit-on-top kayak, use a cooler or dry bag for that. Try keeping your feet at a few different positions to see which one is the comfiest. Sometimes changing the position of the knees frequently helps relieve joint pain.

Step 9 – Move with your kayak

If this is not your first time kayaking, you probably know what I’m talking about. Don’t fight with your kayak, move along with it.

Don’t exert any extra effort on it or try to make any aggressive movements, that might hurt your knees badly. Determine which way you want to go, position accordingly and move in your desired direction.

Step 10 – Approaching the shore

Bring your kayak close to shore so it sits parallel to the shoreline. Alternatively, you may paddle to a shallow shore where there’s barely enough water to get drown.

There’s another method for people who want to get out on land.

Step 11 – Preparing to get out

Firstly place your kayak at a 90° angle on the coaming. Then grab the shaft of the paddle with your hand facing the side from the coast and grip it tightly. Make the kayak swing in the direction of the shore. The paddle can then be positioned along the side of the boat.

Step 12 – Pulling your legs out

Basically, you have to balance your body with one foot on the ground. Jump from the kayak and land straight into the water. Don’t do this if the water level is below your waist – it may hurt your knee. However, you will get wet in this process. If you are wearing waders then you don’t need to worry. Here is a list of hip and chest waders to choose from:

Tips for easier kayak entry and exit with bad knees

the ultimate kayaking tips

There are some ways to make it easier to climb into and exit from your boat. Some involve paddle accessories that you can buy and some involve sustainable practices to carry out on-land before actually attempting to get in and off.

Getting into the kayak

With bad knees, it’s harder to get inside your boat. Having someone who can help by keeping the kayak stabilized as you get in would be preferred, but it’s not required.

  • Bring your boat to the edge of the water.
  • Set your kayak in the water, parallel to the shore.
  • Set your paddle perpendicular to your kayak behind the back of the cockpit.
  • Place one hand on the shaft of the paddle, which acts as an anchor point to give you stability, and place your other hand on the opposite end of the paddle shaft.
  • Now that you have stability with your hands, and are in a low position with bent knees, swing your leg and body weight to the far side of your kayak, while still keeping your hands in a stable position.
  • And finally, bring your other leg into the kayak.

Getting off from a kayak

Getting out of your kayak can be done by simply reversing the steps used to enter your kayak. Here are a few pointers.

  • Choose a landing area easily accessible with gentle slopes. Pick sandy beaches instead of rocky ones; this will let you ram the kayak across the bank not damaging its body.
  • Ensure that you position your kayak parallel to the edge of the water.
  • Create an anchor point with your paddle and get one leg out of the kayak and place it on the ground.
  • Once one foot is on the ground, repeat this for the other leg, and swing your bodyweight out while keeping your hands in this stable position.

Some Effective and Essential Kayaking Tips

Put your paddle in the water and use it as leverage against the kayak

If you have flipped out in the water, take your own paddle and use it as an antilock on the boat so that gravity keeps you back up. You’ll almost certainly have to ask someone else who has the paddle ready.

The ocean can be difficult to navigate and when you paddle it’s not uncommon for waves to come toward your kayak. A paddle is an important tool for such situations.

life jacket kayaking

Keep your legs elevated while paddling

Sitting flat-legged in a kayak can make blood pool at the bottom of your knees. Moving your feet in a kayak will get rid of that.

Final Thoughts

Bad knees can take the fun out of kayaking, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be like that.

Choosing what type of kayak you would want to try is important when trying to get out of the kayak. If you keep doing this and are planning to prevent problems in the future you could go paddling for several generations. You can reach us anytime if you have any concerns.

Frequently Asked Questions on How to Get Out of a Kayak with Bad Knees

Are you fit to kayak?

Paddling is a strenuous exercise that puts a hefty weight onto the body. You need to make sure whether it’s okay for your physical condition or not. Ask your physician before kayaking, especially if you have bad knees or past injuries.

Your doctor knows your current health status and treatment history the best and can provide valuable advice to you.

How do I get out of a kayak with bad hips?

Place one leg on the side of the boat. set the other foot on the ground. Use your hands to balance by holding onto the side of the kayak. Keep your thighs up straight with their leg bones held tight and then take the time to remove yourself using your hands for support. Note that your hand can help alleviate some pressure on the surface.

What do you do when you’re sitting in a kayak and it flips?

This happens when a wave throws you out of balance or you didn’t get to take some rest in a while.

The most effective strategy for staying safe in the event of a kayak flip is to be prepared in advance. It is very important that you wear a PFD all the time in order to avoid getting drowned in case of an accident.

Here is a short video to learn how to re-enter a kayak in deep water.

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