Camping and Back Pain
Though the rest of the northern hemisphere is heading toward cooler weather, we in Florida are just getting to our nicest time of the year for most outdoor activities. Camping is a favorite thing for a lot of people, but what if you have back problems? What are some ways you can enjoy the experience without ruining the trip for everyone?
For so many people, spine problems hinder many activities and make an already difficult medical condition even more depressing. No one wants to be left out of the fun stuff so I talked to some patients, did a little reading and spoke to actual campers. As with most things, everyone has a different idea of what helps, but there were several things that came up frequently.
- If you are hiking, watch the weight of your pack and make sure it is well balanced. If you are going somewhere that has sufficient water, carry water purifying tablets instead of lugging water along.
- Wear the right shoes/boots. You need something with some support, good treads, and worn long enough not to cause blisters.
- Use proper body mechanics while setting up tents, collecting firewood, and carrying supplies. No repeat bending. Use your legs.
- Clear your way to places like the bathroom so if you are awake in the middle of the night you do not trip over things (there’s a story for that one)
- Use a pad/ mattress you have tried out at home first. Everyone has a favorite – a yoga matt, a blow-up, a hammock, or just a position to sleep in. Putting some clothes, or your pack, under your knees seems to be the most popular recommendation for sleeping on an unforgiving surface
- Simple stretches in the morning can loosen up tight, cold muscles and prevent injury.
- Below are some products that I received several recommendations for while I was gathering information.
Enjoy the outdoors, watch out for snakes (why I don’t camp, ever), and don’t be proud. If it makes sense for someone else to do a certain job, so you don’t get injured, let them do it.
Things you might want to check out…
- Wettenschwiler PD, Lorenzetti S, Stämpfli R, Rossi RM, Ferguson SJ, Annaheim S. Mechanical Predictors of Discomfort during Load Carriage. PLoS One. 2015;10(11):e0142004. PubMed PMID: 26529414