I have a history of back problems. It is a growth problem from my childhood, my vertebrae are slightly deformed and therefore more at risk of dislocation. When that happens it is pain beyond words. The whole back locks up in a spasm making just about any movement difficult and very painful.
My back has dislocated a few times, and it is a constant fear that it should happen again.
I started paddling on the advice of my chiropractor, and it does help. I have felt lots better and safer, without any of the little signs that the spine was unhappy.
About a week ago, as we paddled towards the Archipelago di Maddalena on the Costa Smeralda I started getting very sore muscles in my lower back. It was just after a fall on a brink at Golfo Aranci, so I obviously got quite afraid for the state of my back. These pains have subsisted until after Castelsardo, and the muscles are still a bit sore.
It took a few days paddling to figure out what was going on. We paddled in waves of over 1m all those days, and more often that not waves from the side or from several directions simultaneously. Most of the days in waves we also did non-stop paddles of 3-4 hours because we had little possibilities to stop.
The Skim Distance is very long, giving it good speed and directional stability, but is also susceptible to being pushed sideways by waves, which means constant course corrections when in difficult waves. Do that for 3-4 hours without any breaks without previous training, and you’ll have some sore edging muscles in the lower back. Do it for several days in a row, and you’ll have some seriously aching muscles.
It has given me some really bad days on the water, but at least I now know that it is not because my spine is dislocating, but because those muscles are badly overworked. There’s a cure for that: training.
The last two day’s paddling has been in much easier water, and I have had no problems. We’ve done long hours at good speed, and I have not had any pains. The muscles are still a bit sore, but not in a problematic way.
This being my first long journey in kayak, I’m not surprised some muscles are complaining, but I would have been less scared and bothered had it been somewhere else than my lower back.