4 Tips for Protecting Your Back While Long-Distance Hiking
Anyone with a history of back problems needs to be extra careful during the planning and execution of a long-distance hike. What with the distances that need to be travelled each day, usually with a heavy pack to carry, such adventures can represent a challenge for any person, but anyone who has suffered from back problems in the past needs to take special care not to reinjure themselves. After all, becoming incapacitated in the backcountry due to back problems can mean needing to call a professional rescue unit.
With that in mind, here are four tips to help you hike without issue.
1. Load Your Backpack Properly
Firstly, it's a good idea to go as lightweight as possible, so try ditching everything you won't need and making lightweight substitutions where you can. If it's been a while since you hiked, you'll be stunned by how many lightweight gadgets are now available. Next, make sure everything is loaded properly. You want to put the heaviest items close to the back and towards the bottom of the backpack. Additionally, make sure weight is distributed evenly to left and right to avoid balance problems and placing excess pressure on one side of the back.
2. Use Hiking Poles
Hiking poles should be considered essential if you've previously suffered from back problems. Using them lets you take some stress off the legs and back by transferring it to the upper body. Once you find your pace and establish a good rhythm, using them will feel great. If you do experience any pain, hiking poles can help you get to shelter more easily.
3. Fit the Right Shoes
During a long-distance hike, there's really nothing more important than what you have on your feet. Wearing poorly-fitted shoes is going to play havoc with your back over long distances since you won't have given yourself a proper platform. Make sure you visit a quality sporting goods or hiking store so they can look at your feet, analyse your gait and pick out the perfect footwear to match your needs. You should also consider fitting some high-quality insoles to provide sufficient cushioning.
4. Walk Correctly
Sure, you already know how to walk, but you might not walk properly while you have a huge backpack on your back. It's very tempting to lean forward when you're carrying such a load. In fact, you'll probably do it naturally since this will mean you don't need to support the weight using your muscles. Unfortunately, leaning forward will move that weight to your spine. It might feel easier, but it's not going to do your back any good. Make sure you stand tall at all times; your muscles might complain at first, but they'll grow stronger as you hike.
If you follow these tips and your back still hurts when hiking, consider making an appointment at a chiropractic clinic to diagnose and resolve any alignment issues with your spine.