5 Ways Hikers Can Avoid Back Pain

Category: Back Pain | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: October 21, 2019

Hiking Back Injury

Autumn in Minnesota is unlike anything else, and it provides us with some of the most picturesque views anywhere in the world. Now is a great time to lace up your hiking boots and check out one of the state’s countless trails, but all that hiking can do a number on your spine. In today’s blog, we share some tips on how you can stay ahead of spine pain if you’re an avid hiker or you’re looking to log your first hike.

Preventing Spine Pain When Hiking

Here are five ways you can protect your spine and help prevent back pain during your hiking experience.

  1. Stretch before hiking – Even if your trail doesn’t have a very steep elevation, walking on uneven ground is going to be a physical activity. You need to make sure your body has time to warm up before you jump into activity, so take a couple minutes before your hike and stretch your spine, neck and legs. All these structures are going to feel the stress of the hike, so make sure they are ready for the physical toll of hiking by gentling easing them from an inactive to an active state.
  2. Start slow – Don’t try to jump into a five-mile hike your first day out. Overstressing your body is the most common way to injure it, and going for too long a hike is an easy way to overstress your spine, especially if you’re carrying supplies in a backpack. Start with a short hike, and slowly increase your distance as you check out new trails.
  3. Backpack Basics – For longer hikes, you may decide to pack a backpack with supplies. Make sure you invest in a backpack that is designed for this kind of activity so that it holds weight in the right locations. Avoid overloading the backpack, as this will put extra stress on your spine, and make sure it is properly strapped across both your shoulders. Having the straps unequal length or only over one shoulder will overstress one area of your back.
  4. Check Your Hiking Posture – Good posture is very important when it comes to protecting your back when hiking. If you’re leaning too far forward, especially if you’re compensating for a heavy backpack, you can put added strain on your cervical spine. Try to keep your head positioned above your shoulders and your shoulders in line with your hips. Ask your trail companions to check your posture, and assess their posture as well to help them protect their spines.
  5. Invest In Hiking Boots – The shoes you wear during your hike also have a significant impact on your spine health. Proper fitting shoes will protect your feet, but stress is channeled through your spine with every step you take, and if you have a supportive shoe, it can help take some pressure off your spine and feet. Also, when buying hiking shoes, make sure that you break them in before you hit the trails. Wear them for short durations around the house to ensure they start to mold to your feet and aren’t rubbing in any areas that could become uncomfortable over the course of a long hike.

Keep these tips in mind before your next hike, and your spine will thank you for it. For more tips, or to talk to a back doctor about your spine pain, reach out to Dr. Sinicropi’s office today.

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