How to Ease Your Back Pain this Hiking Season

older woman hikingAccording to the American Chiropractic Association, 80% of the population will suffer from back pain at some point in their lives. Back pain can stop people from doing certain activities they love, like hiking. How can you avoid back pain and get out and enjoy the great outdoors? Read on.

Strengthen your core. Before going on a hike, make sure you’re exercising your core at least three times a week. Chronic lower back pain is often caused by a weak core. Increasing your core strength will help your overall hiking experience. Some exercises could include yoga, weightlifting and planks.

Maintain posture. This is an extremely important step. Make sure you aren’t hunching over when walking with your backpack. You should let your chest lead you. It can maintain your posture by going on a walk with a packed bag in the days leading up to your hike. This helps you assess how much weight you can properly carry and how long you can carry it.

Use the right equipment. Picking the right backpack is crucial for your hike. Depending on the extent of your hike, your backpack should be able to hold your belongings in the lightest and most efficient way possible. Choosing a backpack with thicker shoulder straps lessens the strain on your shoulders and spine.

  • To avoid falls and maintain balance, hiking poles are great for maintaining your posture throughout the hike.
  • A back brace can also help keep your back straight while hiking.

Stretch Before and After

Depending on the nature of your back, certain stretches can help strengthen your back and ease pain.

Full back stretch – Lie on your back, bring your knees to your chest, and grasp your legs with interlocked fingers under your knees. Rock back and forth all the way from your buttocks to the top of your neck using your spine as the rocker.

Lower back stretch – Lie on your back, put your hands on your sides, turn your head to the right, then bend your knees so your feet are on the floor. Slowly rotate your knees all the way left and hold for 30 seconds. Return knees to starting position and repeat on the opposite side.

Side stretch – Stand with feet shoulder length apart, raise your hands and interlock them. Slowly bend to one side as far as you can and hold for 20 seconds. Slowly lift back up and bend to the other side.

If your back pain persists and seems to be getting in the way of your favorite activities, make an appointment with your physician for an exam.

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