Kayaking with arthritis



I have generalised Osteoarthritis, it was diagnosed as degenerate 12 years ago in the base of my spine and my neck, also my left knee. I have recently suffered intense bouts of depression.

I have had counselling on and off for a year now, but recently an emergency counsellor has tried to get me reconnected with the things I used to enjoy, she is keen to get me out of the house. I used to love kayaking and own two kayaks. I stopped as I couldn’t load them on the car anymore. I also used to mountain bike and walk, but my knee clicks and pains so much that they are out of the question. I would love to kayak again, I miss it so much. I wonder if there is anywhere in the North West area I can go that specialises in water sports for people like myself. Where someone will help me get the kayak in the water. Better still, do you know of anywhere that has specials in lifting equipment that can aid someone who can’t lift anyone?

I am single and live with my 84 year old mother, so getting family to help is impossible. I lost touch with most my friends since the depression started.

Thank you,

Sheena (aged 54 and from Liverpool )


  • ToneBlues
    ToneBlues Member Posts: 94

    Hi @Sheena22

    Welcome to the Versus Arthritis online community and thank you for asking for our help and support.

    I understand that you have osteoarthritis that affects your back, neck and left knee, and that you have also recently experienced intense bouts of depression. With the support of your counsellor you want to be able to take up kayaking again, and are asking if there is anywhere in the North West area that would be able to support you to kayak in the light of the difficulties that your osteoarthritis causes you.

    I am hoping that one of our online community members can help you with this.

    In the meantime it may be helpful for both body and mind to regularly do some of the exercises recommended here

    More generally this section is about OA of the spine more generally -

    I'm glad to hear that you have the support of a counsellor to help you deal with bouts of depression - I know from my own experience how useful that can be. This page contains some more general advice about staying well emotionally.

    I do hope that you find some way of taking up kayaking again - I am hopeful that one of our members will have some useful suggestions. Please keep in touch with us.

    Very best wishes


  • ToneBlues
    ToneBlues Member Posts: 94
    edited 15. Dec 2021, 15:24

    Hi @Sheena22

    I've just had a chat with my partner, who is an open water swimmer, and she has suggested that you might like to contact Alderford who have a lake in N Shropshire (not too far from Merseyside) where they do kayaking - they may be able to help you (my partner says they are friendly), or they may be able recommend somewhere that can assist you.

    Later addition -

    Also Merseyside Sport's job is developing/supporting sport for all in your region - you can contact them here - they aren't doing their job if they can't help and advise you.

    Very best wishes


  • helpline_team

    Hi @Sheena22 and thank you for posting on the forum. I’m so sorry to hear about the intense bouts of depression you have recently experienced.

    I am though glad to hear that you have been having counselling, which has reconnected you with things that you enjoy which sounds wonderful. I can see that ToneBlues has given you a couple of links for your back and spine, which I hope will be helpful for you, as well as giving you a contact for the kayaking which sounds great. I hope this leads you back to doing what you enjoy.

    I noticed that you have also mentioned OA in your knee, so I’ve given you a link to our information about that, as well as a link to the Disabled Living Foundation who may be able to help with regards to lifting equipment. If they are unable to advise they maybe able to signpost you further.

    I’m just wondering if you have had an OT (occupational therapist) assessment, if not you could have a word with your GP about this or call your social services. They can offer practical help with everyday tasks if needed.  

    You are very welcome to give us a call on our helpline:  0800 5200 520 (weekdays 9am-6pm) sometimes a listening ear can be helpful, and we can take our time to talk informally and in confidence.

    I hope this is helpful.

    Best wishes


    Helpline Team


  • Sheena22
    Sheena22 Member Posts: 3

    Thank you Lynda, I am sorry not to reply right away but I have been going through the wars recently and feeling very low.

    I am due to see an OT soon, my work are arranging it. I have had another appointment with my NHS rheumatologist before Christmas and she has also suggested exercise, but advised a gentle start and suggested water based exercise... I know very little about this. She also diagnosed Fibromyalgia and has given me a leaflet🙄I know very little about that and the leaflet has now been lost.... I looked it up on Google yesterday. Is Fibromyalgia common with everyone who has osteoarthritis?

  • Lilymary
    Lilymary Member Posts: 1,743
    edited 7. Jan 2022, 14:46

    Hi @Sheena22 , have you tried seeing if there's a canoe club local to where you live? I'm in Cumbria, and we quite often see small local canoe clubs coming up here to paddle on the lakes and rivers. Some of them can be very supportive of people with physical limitations, and some of their members may be happy to help you find out if you can still paddle. Would you be able to ask a friend or neighbour to help you load and unload the canoe at home?

    I always found kayaking a really good full body workout, (not just shoulders) but haven't tried it for a few years due to other health issues, but hoping I can get back to it maybe this summer, if my new hip behaves. I'm considering getting one of those new sit-on/open kayaks, which avoid mobility issues of squeezing yourself in and out of the cockpit, and I won't have to panic about wriggling out of it if I'm upsidedown! Here's an example I found at random on a quick internet search

  • helpline_team

    Dear Sheena22


    Thank you for your posting on the forum. It is positive that you are to see an OT soon and that you have had an appointment with your NHS rheumatologist

    I am sorry to hear that you have been feeling very low and have now been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and have asked if this is common with everyone who has osteoarthritis. We do not have information about how common this is with osteoarthritis but it is possible to have this condition with a type of arthritis. We don’t currently know the exact reason why people get Fibromyalgia. But there does seem to be a common link with things such as arthritis and we have a lot of information on our website about Fibromyalgia that I hope you will find helpful. This includes what the condition is and about treatment and self help. I have put a link below for this information on our website.

    I see that your NHS Rheumatologist has suggested exercise. You can ask your GP about a referral to a physiotherapist who can advise on exercise and may also advise you on relaxation techniques which can be just as important as exercise when you’re dealing with Fibromyalgia. We have information on exercise that you can access on the link below that includes swimming and water based exercises.

    ·        Fibromyalgia

    ·        Exercise

    I hope this information is helpful and, as Lynda has suggested, you may find it helpful to call us here on the helpline and talk things through with us. You can call us on 0800 5200 520 (weekdays 9am-6pm).

    Kind Regards


    Helpline Advisor