Hike The Right WayDr. Alex Jimenez D.C. is a spine injury specialist at Injury Medical Chiropractic Clinic. He believes at its core, hiking is very beneficial to individuals with back pain. Hiking is a great activity for those with back pain because it increases muscular circulation improving soft tissue flexibility in the spine along with other muscle groups. Hiking helps strengthen spinal support muscles, improves flexibility and posture. The result is minimized pain on all levels. Walking on different uneven terrain/s contributes to improved balance and synergistic muscle activity of the back, legs, and core, and the small muscles of the feet. However, there is an incorrect way to hike with back pain. If done incorrectly hiking can have a negative detrimental impact on the body. Proper technique and form need to be followed. For example, a backpack that is improperly worn or not correctly sized for the body type could lead to imbalance. This could lead to improper form and injuries. Poor posture during a hike places added pressure on the:
Proper BackpackA poor-fitting backpack will easily lead to increased back pain and even other ailments like shoulder and neck pain issues. A proper backpack should have the straps around the waist and across the back to evenly distribute the weight. Visit a sports/outdoor store to get correctly fitted for a backpack.
Stretching OutGetting and staying loose before and after a hike is very important. Before a hike improves circulation and loosens the muscles, in turn, reducing the stress on the joints. Stretching after a hike reduces muscle fatigue and soreness that can amplify and exacerbate back pain along with any other body soreness.
Trekking PolesUsing trekking poles can be beneficial and quite helpful for individuals with back pain. Trekking poles can help avoid poor posture by keeping the body in an upright position. This helps reduce back pain experienced during and after a hike.
Body CareHiking successfully means that the body needs to be fully functional and fueled before even stepping on the trail. Fueling the body with nutritious snacks like bananas, dried fruit, and trail mix will keep the body’s energy supply going. And above all stay hydrated with plenty of water. Also, focus the workout on developing upper body and core strength to prevent injury. Don’t forget to listen to what your body is telling you. Individuals with back pain need to listen to their bodies making sure not to overdo it, as well as, with any type of exercise, to adjust to your specific pain tolerance level. If unable to limit distance or time, then make sure to take frequent breaks. This will help avoid placing unnecessary strain on the spine.
Recovery TimeThe body needs a proper amount of time between hikes to recover properly. If there is still soreness and pain, WAIT until the body is no longer sore before trekking to the next trail. The amount a person can hike depends on the individual, overall strength, and how fast their body recovers between hikes. It is different for everyone.
AssistanceAs the journey commences, whether going for pain-free or less painful hiking, remember that it’s ok to have others help get you there. Getting help from a veteran hiker will definitely benefit proper form and posture. Hiking with an experienced partner can also help avoid poor hiking techniques that can worsen back pain or even create new injuries.
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The information herein on "Being Able To Hike With and Without Back Pain" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional, or licensed physician, and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make your own healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.
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Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, CCST, IFMCP*, CIFM*, ATN*
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Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, CIFM*, IFMCP*, ATN*, CCST
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