I have been thinking about the conversation I had recently with a doctor guy who kitesurfs, kitefoils and used to windsurf, we were discussing harness designs on the beach and the reasons why we choose certain designs, he had a very interesting view on this subject.
He stopped wearing the waist style after many reported admissions to hospitals due to the use of waist harnesses, mainly broken ribs or severe bruising,
he recons the human body simply cant cope well with the forces generated by the waist harness and are generally uncomfortable to wear, and very uncomfortable when loaded up in windy conditions or wipe out situations, long term back damage being just one negative.
He was very cynical about the company's who produce these harnesses, believing there is an element of users believing they must have bought a harness that is not quite right as it hurts at times or rides up too easily causing problems, so they look for another model that is claimed to be better, and some users do this year after year never quite finding a harness that is just right, that feels right in all conditions and wipe out situations.
this reminded me of my short time using the waist style harness,
I bought 4 different models, and gave in after a year of discomfort and frustration, my experience was they constantly kept riding up to chest height mostly when jumping, and they hurt my ribs most of the time.
but loved the freedom of leg movement when walking around the beach.
What the doctor said really struck home a few weeks back when one of our local guys wiped out badly during a kite loop and was left writhing in agony on the carpark as we helped him out of his wet-suit for a trip to hospital for suspected broken ribs, he confirmed he broke a few ribs a few years ago and this pain was the same, as it turned out it was only minor cracking, (or something like that) but kept him of the water just the same.
I know we all talk some S*@t at times on the beach, but I do think there are some elements of truth in this.
Nothing is BW. Im not very compatible to waist harness /body type/ and i was using either waist and waist with seat support harness before foiling. On tt jumping etc - there are literary multiple times more forces than on foil and i was just choosing poison. Waist harness crushing my ribs while seat harness crushing my balls. No one was clearly better. So i just switch between them to distribute damage. On foil and also in winter on fast snow there are much less forces involved so i just rode waist harness which is better bodyfreedom - wise. Sliding rope is a must for me although.
I agree that there are pros and cons for each style harness. It took me quite some time to learn to use a waist harness effectively. I still use a seat harness with my S5 as there is so much pull at zenith. The only problem I had with my waist harness was that I had to double tie my board shorts so they would not come undone and fall to my knees while riding..
No doubt rib injury is more prevalent with a waist harness. There is also less abdominal strain in a seat when jumping. Then again, seat harnesses put a nutating force through the pelvis reversing the lumbar curve, which is problematic when loading, i.e. jumping, riding in chop or overpowered.
General ergonomics are better standing than sitting. Especially under load. I fear for the current crop of foil racers. I can easily imagine there will be more than a few with lasting back issues.
Many people kite with poor posture regardless of harness type. I generally see better posture in advanced riders who typically use a waist harness and ride with better lumbar and pelvic alignment.
IMO A propper fitting hard shell waist is a good option for surfboard and foil with a slider. A softer harness better suits the use of a harness hook for jumping on a TT. The hard shell can present a painful edge to ribs and spine in the event of a hard unexpected yank.
It's not as simple as the OP implies. Ride with good form, know the risks, pick a harness that fits properly, suits your style, body and fitness level. Stay fit and develop core strength and stability.
I was very happy with a seat harness and could ride for a long time. I lost these harness and used a hard shell waste and found that my lower back muscles started to strain about 45 minutes of kiting. I think that some different muscles are used for the two types.
I wonder if alternating between the two types might be good?
In the past, I have injured ribs when my harness rode up. What I learned is that it totally depends on the Spreader Bar. If you ride with one of the Round or oval style spreader bars, it is likely you will eventually injure yourself. However, if you ride with one of the Flat style spreader bars (Dynabar, Ride Engine, etc.) you will not injure your ribs. I still ride with a waist harness and have not hurt myself since changing to a Flat spreader bar. Just trying to help others, fwiw.
Get rid of those damn round bar spreader bars people! They were designed for windsurfing not kiting!
Last edited by mmac on Fri Dec 07, 2018 1:48 am, edited 6 times in total.
I myself would love to change to a waist harness, as I believe now I foil 99% of the time it must be easier to find one that works for me, as the forces are so much less and being more flexible is important in many more situations.
but after so many years using a seat harness I feel the change may be too difficult, and/or too expensive to keep trying to find the right harness, or is my fear of change unfounded? and what about bar throw, my arms are not long, is the jump up to a higher position of spreader bar height an advantage or disadvantage in any way.
I already use a very long rope on my spreader bar to allow good rotation going on to toeside and a very small chicken loop to keep the bar low.
I need to go to an event where waist harnesses are available to try before you buy,