Saving Your Back On Your Next Camping Trip

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By Dr. Sender Deutsch
Published on August 23, 2016

campingDuring the summer, camping is a favourite activity amongst families.  It is a phenomenal time to de-stress and enjoy nature in its purest form.  It is also a great time to step away from work and the computer engineered world we now live in.  While camping, your body is constantly changing positions – whether it’s canoeing, pushing and pulling, swimming, lifting and constantly moving.  These movements are an excellent way to combat back pain.  Back pain is often triggered as a result of a lack of movement.  Our society has been accustomed to not having to move efficiently as everything can be controlled and done through our phones, tablets, or computers with the push of a button, and e-mailing and texting as the norm.  As our world becomes increasingly efficient through GPS and new age apps that control everything from our music, to lights, to HVAC units – we are slowly becoming more sedentary and not getting out of our seats as much.

Getting outdoors and being one with nature is a natural way for us to heal and regenerate our bodies.  However, since the movements associated with camping are not second nature to us anymore – it is important to remember to take it slow and steady as your muscles and joints are not used to the various forms of activities you will be performing while on your camping trip.

Saving your back on your next camping trip…

  1. Bring all your gear to the campsite in as few trips as possible – utilizing everyone’s help to prevent excessive carrying.
  2. Bend from the hips and knees when lifting wood, portaging your canoe, etc. Avoid twisting and rotating multiple times. Try to get down on your hands and knees if needed, instead of bending.
  3. Avoid bending from the low back when putting your tent together. Get down into a squat position or lunge.
  4. Bring an air mattress or fold-up cot to allow for a better sleep without sleeping on the ground and getting a chill on your back during the night.
  5. Use a rolled up towel to support your neck when sleeping, or better yet bring your ObusForme travel pillow with you.
  6. Swim at the end of the day to help decompress your spine.
  7. When canoeing, make sure to spend an equal amount of time paddling on both sides of your body.
  8. Take time to do some simple stretches such as lunges to open up your hips, shoulder stretches, and some knees-to-chest to open up the hamstrings and low back muscles.camping
  9. When carrying items, hold them close to your body.
  10. Make sure you have the adequate strength in your legs and upper body before attempting to portage your canoe.
  11. Bring as much water as possible to the camp site to prevent getting dehydrated- which prevents adequate blood flow and circulation to your muscles
  12. Make sure to wear a backpack that has waist belt to alleviate pressure and stress to your low back. Try to pack light- no use in carrying extra weight.
  13. Wear comfortable hiking shoes that help absorb ground reaction forces as your feet are not accustomed to the uneven terrain. Not wearing the proper footwear causes the shock to be transferred to your low back.
  14. Stretch as much as possible throughout the day and before going to sleep.
  15. Dress warm at night so your joints don’t get cold and stiff while sleeping.

Happy camping!