Your feet are the key to proper paddling posture and dynamic movement!

This one is all about the feet and their impact

on paddling dynamics.

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Many paddlers don’t seem to think much about their feet unless they happen to step wrong on something. The focus always seems to be more on their arms, their hips and their paddles. But the foot is an important and integral part of kayaking and all paddling in general. Along with the hips and thighs, the feet position a paddler in or on top of their craft and provide an anchor point for optimum paddling motion.

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Flex Maslan kayakfari.com Whiskey Creek snorkel John U Lloyd kayakfari kayak beach toes foot canoe cruise ship port everglades

All toes on board at Whiskey Creek in Dania Beach, Florida.
Kayaking Whiskey Creek & John U Lloyd State Park.

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To start with, foot protection may not always be necessary, but it can’t hurt. Paddling footwear comes in many forms and styles, like shoes. It’s a very subjective and personal choice, though form should follow function! Typically lightweight water shoes are great for working out and day paddles, helping to protect the feet from hazards when launching. When on a camping trip, high top booties make an excellent choice. A second set of (always dry) water shoes for in-camp use only makes outback life ever more pleasant!

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Flex Maslan Alligator Reef Light kayakfari kayak lighthouse foot keys photography paddle coral panorama snorkel toe

I spy camel toe booties on the Alligator Light Reef platform!
Kayaking to Alligator Light Reef in the upper Keys.

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Aside from foot protection, an even more important reason to pay attention to the feet is to ensure proper setup for posture in or on top of the boat. In most cases, this means properly adjusting foot pegs or foot plates in kayaks and surfskis. Dialing in the right setting is paramount to get the most out of a surfski or workout (K1 style) kayak. This will enable proper leg drive, or as much as a particular boat and one’s anatomy will allow.

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 Sea Kayaks and other sit inside kayaks usually have adjustable foot bars or foot pegs. Most sit on top style kayaks have several fixed molded in foot braces. In either case you want to adjust your foot position so that your feet are pushing your butt back into the seat. This will help to keep your lower back straight and in a slightly forward leaning position.

I often see new paddlers sit in their boat and immediately lean back as if at home in a recliner. You never want to be leaning back into the backrest unless you’re taking a break! Otherwise you’ll be in the wrong position for actual paddling and harmfully compressing your spine! You may need to readjust or re-position your seat straps to accomplish this.

The lean forward position is not only good for paddling, it’s also really good for your lower back!

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Flex Maslan kayakfari stellar surfski ses multisport kayak grey ghost miami biscayne vkoc paddle

Stellar kayaks provides a very solid adjustable 3 point attachment system for the footplate on their surfskis.
The unused area in front is ideal for a hydration bladder or in this case, to hold my crocs!
The launching of the Grey Ghost (Stellar SES Multisport surfski)

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Flex Maslan kayakfari stellar surfski ses kayak grey ghost seat foam padding foot pedals paddle fitness fatigue

For barefoot surfski paddling, a lil foam padding makes a big difference.
The fine art of surfski padding for optimal paddling!

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flex maslan kayakfari k1 everglades kayak florida bay fitness paddle east cape kirton tercel 420 trainer RGB rudder

K1 trainer kayak with tiller steering and a toe plate. This boat allows excellent leg drive!
Easter 4/20 exploratory coastal fitness paddling a K1 trainer on Florida Bay.

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Flex Maslan Dania Kayakfari Fitness surfski feet revo kayak leg drive biscayne Photography

The Revo R2 surfski foot plate position is marked with the alphabet!
This boat allows my anatomy to achieve better leg drive than my Stellar SES.

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Flex Maslan Kayakfari Fitness Surfski feet Miami kayak green hulk surf ski paddle biscayne bay Photography

My old school Findeisen Shearwater surfski with twin footwells and center hump.
This style does not allow proper leg drive, only a squirm of sorts to pivot my hips, which still helps!
Attitude IS Everything, Kayaking IS Anger management!

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Flex Maslan kayak Jesus Christ statue Reef kayakfari key largo dry rocks paddle keys dive snorkel abyss Pennekamp rtm disco

This SOT kayak with unergonomic molded foot pegs on a Sunday barefoot Pilgrimage.
Kayaking to Dry Rocks Reef – a Pilgrimage to find the “Christ of the Abyss” off Key Largo!

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Recreational SOT kayaks like the RTM Disco model pictured can be customized with a solid foot plate for the feet to push off of. In other kayaks, a small heel plate can provide similar functionality when combined with solid foot pegs.

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flex maslan kayak foot plate kayakfari rtm disco paddle diy surf leg drive surfski sot mojito custom

This custom solid footplate greatly increases ergonomics on the SOT kayak and allows for a more efficient surfski-like paddling posture. 🙂
Custom SOT kayak solid foot plate for the RTM Disco!

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Flex Maslan kayakfari underdeck storage seda glider kayak tech inside cockpit shelf upgrade miami florida banana boat

The small heel plate installed this sea kayak allows me to also paddle it surfski style, utilizing more leg drive!
Putting up a shelf – creating underdeck storage space inside the kayak cockpit!

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Custom modifications and additions aside, some of the newest generations of performance kayaks already come with a solid footplate featuring a surfski style solid footplate with gas pedal type steering for the rudder! This is a huge improvement in paddling ergonomics, although many paddlers really do not take full advantage of it. Often paddlers still lock their thighs under the coaming braces for general paddling. In my opinion this is unnecessary and extremely unergonomic! The main reason to have your legs splayed out like that is for bracing, as in high bracing and / or when rolling. The rest of the time, the knees should be close together for comfort and to allow leg drive. Paddling a surfski in ocean conditions proves that high bracing can be continually and effectively accomplished with a combination of paddle strokes, weight transfer and hip movement. Thus a sit inside kayak with traditional coaming thigh braces is not necessarily a requirement for ocean play in typical South Florida conditions.

Not only is this more ergonomic and comfortable, it allows proper leg drive which makes paddling more fun and dynamic!

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Flex Maslan kayakfari feet kayak rudder sliding foot pegs inside cockpit toes adjustment position seat shelf

Sea kayaks with rudders that use separate sliding foot pegs are poor candidates for utilizing leg drive, since they slide!
Putting up a shelf – creating underdeck storage space inside the kayak cockpit!

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The feet will let you know when there is a problem or a mismatch with foot pegs or foot pads. In a sit on top you’ll always be looking at your feet. In a traditional kayak, you might not see them but you’ll be feeling and using them – or should be.

Whether fixed, adjustable or sliding, a properly customized fit ensures maximum control and comfort while on the water!

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Great video on proper foot positioning from Nigel Foster via Paddling.net

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It’s always good practice at any level to periodically take a step back and look at the big paddling picture. Are you leaning back too far, or leaning forward too much? Are your knees too straight or too high in the boat? Are your arms too tired, or your shoulders, elbows? Are you able to rotate your hips in the seat to help drive your boat forward? There are many variables to continually (re) examine and integrate into perfecting your paddling technique.

Being mindful of your feet as the foundation for your paddling posture will yield many benefits over time!

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You may also like to see the feet in action! 😮

The following are links to paddling adventure stories of interest.

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Flex Maslan kayakfari.com East Everglades Grass kayakfari feet hammock canoe paddle airboat camp addition lands kayak

Footwear for kayaking to an Everglades tree island hammock.
Grass Paddling in the East Everglades Expansion Area.

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Flex Maslan paddle Miami kayakfari Biscayne bay kayak camo bugsuit sandals feet camping funny night

Camo bugsuit with sandals could result in camo-toe! 😉
Full moon paddling on the historic Miami River.

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Flex Maslan kayakfari Darwins Place toes foot Everglades Camp kayak canoe tent wilderness waterway paddle

Boredom counting toes and bugs while camping in Hell!
Camping Hell in the Ten Thousand Islands.

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The feet will thank you for your attention.

Choose your footwear wisely!

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Flex Maslan kayakfari Gopher Key kayak everglades feet mud calusa shell mound native paddle photography ten thousand

Black Everglades muck on the feet in the Ten Thousand Islands.

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Flex Maslan awakenthegrass.com Big Cypress Roberts Lake everglades hike photography aerial awakenthegrass art camp knoll kayakfari backcountry environment camping outback florida

Pulling the feet out in Big Cypress.
Hiking among the Big Cypress.

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Flex Maslan kayakfari slough kayak everglades mud pea soup 420 canoe expedition photography shark

Ooops, looks like we got cheated. Somebody slipped in a hand! 😉
Kayaking the River of Grass – a Shark River Slough Expedition!

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Flex Maslan kayakfari First National Bank Florida Bay kayak Everglades feet mud flats low tide canoe turtle grass stuck

Therapeutic mud treatment of Florida Bay? Not!
The hold up at First National Bank in Florida Bay.

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Flex Maslan kayakfari First National Bank feet Florida Bay kayak Everglades mud flats low tide canoe turtle grass walk stuck

Gingerly tip toeing over First National Bank in Florida Bay.

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flex maslan kayakfari Barracuda Keys marvin shoal sandbar kayak paddle feet sugarloaf backcountry beach bay reef photography

My feet seeking Higher ground in the Lower Keys!
Higher ground in the Lower Keys and Faith in Numbers!

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Flex Maslan kayakfari Florida Bay paddle Kayak feet everglades photography snorkel rabbit keys flamingo grass turtle

Fins on the feet snorkeling at Little Rabbit Key in Florida Bay.
Kayaking and snorkeling at Little Rabbit Key in Florida Bay.

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Flex Maslan paddle Miami trash kayakfari Biscayne kayak shoes bay garbage feet photography island florida

Odd pairing – washed up footwear trash on Biscayne Bay.
All that trash – the ugly side of kayaking in Miami!

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Flex Maslan paddle Miami kayakfari Biscayne bay kayak sandspurs booties sticklers feet island

Sand spurs love the feet. But .. ouch!!
The best little Piano Bar in Miami!

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Keep your eyes on the horizon, and your feet in the kayak!

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Flex Maslan kayakfari RedBull Flugtag Miami kayak feet downtown biscayne bay florida paddle photography sit on top

Paddling in Miami with feet on the pegs and a walking stick.
Paddling to a Red Bull Flugtag downtown Miami kayak and boating party!

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Flex Maslan Winter Cochiti Lake kayakfari paddling kayak feet photography New Mexico snow ice breaker Santa Fe high altitude

Snow boots keeping toes warm paddling in a Winter Wonderland of ice and sun.
Paddling in a Winter Wonderland of ice and sun on the Rio Grande in New Mexico.

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Flex Maslan kayakfari sup kayak miami everglades feet mangrove canopy florida paddle stand up

Get up, stand Up – on my feet paddling a kayak SuP style through a mangrove canopy.
She’s a whole lotta Kayak!

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Flex Maslan kayakfari feet kayak shoe paddle split walk miami stand up photography sup biscayne

Kayak? Kayak shoes or kayak skis? Walking on water and later a most painful split! 😮

Trips, sea stories and Pics!

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Flex Maslan Spirit Lake kayakfari paddling kayak happy feet photography Oregon Mt Hood High altitude

Bottoms up. Keeping her happy feet in the clouds.
That’s all I gotta say about that! 😉

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Keep your head above the water

and let your feet lead the way!

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Enjoy!

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Flex Maslan kayakfari.com rasta 420 happy kayakfari kayak canoe paddle photography adventure fitness awakenthegrass everglades florida

! Bless UP

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© 2017 – 2021 Flex Maslan / kayakfari.com / awakenthegrass.com . All original photographs, artworks and music in this portfolio are copyrighted and owned by the artist, Flex Maslan, unless otherwise noted. Any reproduction, modification, publication, transmission, transfer, or exploitation of any of the content, for personal or commercial use, whether in whole or in part, without written permission from the artist is strictly prohibited.

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I hereby disclaim any sponsorship, endorsement, nor association with any product or service described herein. The photographs, depictions, products, and ideas presented on this site are for informational purposes only. Your results may vary, and I do not imply nor guarantee the effectiveness, suitability, design or operation to adhere to any standard. I assume no legal responsibility for the implementation of anything herein presented! Use any and all information at your own risk! By using any and all information from this website, you accept the final liability for any use or possible associated misuse!

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With that said..
Blessings friends!

:)