Monday, December 10, 2007

Numb Toes

After yesterday's posting, I got a few suggestions regarding my numb toe problem, I really appreciate the help, so thought I'd go into a bit more of the gory details. I can only assume my numb toes are the result of a circulation or nerve problem. After a quick Google search, I'm clearly not the only paddler with this problem.

All is well after a day or even weekend of paddling, I'm also fine on longer trips where the distance averages 20 miles per day. My numb toes have only occurred after an Everglades Challenge, a 5-7 day - 300 mile paddle, 40+ miles each day in my NKD Explorer. I honestly don't remember having had this problem after the 1200 mile UFC when I paddled the Dreamcatcher which has a rudder and higher seat (I think this is a very important piece of information). It's also important to note that during these paddles, it's not unusual to paddle 15 or more hours without getting out of the boat. Yea I know, this always brings up other more personal questions, but lets keep this discussion focused on my toes for know.

During these long paddles, pretty much everything is sore, hurts and is tired, but, I've never really suffered any significant back, butt, or leg pain, no sciatica or other issues like that, and I'm pretty flexible in the hamstrings. It's was not uncommon to take 3-5 months before all my toes had normal feeling again.

I've always attributed the numbness to my paddling style, too much pushing with my feet. I've long ago replaced the foot pegs in my Explorer, and have a full foam bulkhead at the position of where the foot pegs would be. Possibly this is too far forward. I've also replaced the NDK back band with a low back snapdragon WW back band. Possibly this also is too far forward on the seat. Luckily, all of this is stuff I can work on.

The only other time I experience numb toes is during long bike rides, after about 40 miles. Again I figured this is likely too much pushing down on the pedals. And possibly too small bike shoes (I ought to check the fit of my paddle shoes too). During biking though, the toes are only numb during the ride, and come back to life very quickly after.

As Silbs has suggested, I'll try a pad under my thighs. I have heard of other paddler's who have done this, but I thought it was related more to discomfort and pain. I found a SealLine Kayak Thigh Support Cushion, at Rutabaga, but will probably try and make something up myself first. I'm assuming this suggestion is to release any pressure on the back of my thighs from the end of the seat, possibly effecting circulation?

Any other ideas or similar experiences?


Michael said...

I used to have this problem (and finding my lower legs 'going to sleep') when I began paddling a QCC boat like the one I own now. The symptoms disappeared at some point for reasons unknown. I've often heard it was nerve related and that taking Silb's advice was the solution. I hope you will find that's true!
Oddly, you haven't mentioned using your SOF in the Challenge... ;-)

Silbs said...

It is nerve related. somewhere between the spine and toe a nerve is being comopressed. It can occur from subtle changes in body position, often when getting fatigued. Many paddlers gain relief by simply partially inflating their paddle floats and sliding them under their thighs. Hey, it costs nothing and is worth a try. Take two aspirins and blog me in the morning.

DaveO said...

That thigh support you mention has helped at least 3 people I know, including me, with the numb foot problem. It also works well for a back support if needed and can be pressed into service as a pillow if you partially inflate it and stick it inside your fleece jacket or vest. Good luck!