Outdoor activity can be great for your back. Besides getting exercise to keep your muscles strong and flexible, you’re also getting Vitamin D to build healthy bones. But hiking, in particular, also comes with risks. At the Carrollton chiropractic office of Dr. Peter Lazarnick (Dr. Pete), we want all our patients to maintain a healthy lifestyle, so we thought it would be a good idea to provide some tips for hiking without overstressing your joints.
Anytime you exercise, you should start by doing dynamic stretches. That means doing stretches that keep you in motion, as opposed to static ones, and your warm-up should last for at least five minutes. While hiking, you’ll want to wear breathable clothing and shoes with slip-resistant soles and that support for your foot arches and ankles. If you wear a backpack, you should use the chest strap and position it so it’s resting at the center of your upper back, and not hanging down. It also shouldn’t weigh more than fifteen percent of your bodyweight.
Hiking on uneven terrain will inevitably put more stress on your back than walking on level ground. This will give your hip and leg muscles more of a workout, allowing them to ultimately provide more support to your lower back, but if you’ve had an injury, it’s something you’ll have to work your way up to slowly. You might want to look into trekking poles to spread your weight more evenly and try walking downhill in a zigzag pattern to put less stress on your kneecaps. If you are having a difficult time returning to activity, our office offers therapies for hard and soft tissues, including chiropractic adjustments, electric muscle stimulation, disc decompression, and physical therapy. But don’t let yourself go without activity for too long; exercise is the only way to rebuild injured muscles.