There’s nothing like camping for the outdoor enthusiast. Quality time with nature, far away from civilization, light pollution, and that incessant background noise that you never notice until it’s blissfully gone. The benefits that come from spending time in unadulterated wilderness outweigh the body pains you are likely to incur, but nonetheless, your spine may begin screaming at you after day one.
Whether you are loading up the necessities on your back and carrying it out into a remote, rustic site yourself, or camping near the security of your car, this activity can wreak havoc your back, and the older we get, the worse it seems to become.
I spent much of my twenties beating myself up to get the best Mother Nature had to offer and loving every second of it, despite the tight, screaming, downright annoying aches and pains I obtained in the process. An old compression fracture in my mid-back causes stiffness and mild immobility in my thoracic spine, or the middle section of my spine, and every time I sleep on a cold, hard ground, I’m reminded that it’s there. My neck is also sensitive due to a few car accidents during my teen years, and my makeshift daypack-and-hoodie camping pillow is an irritable instigator. Do I stop doing what I love just because I wake up with an ache where my human wings should be sprouting instead? Never.
So how do you stop the back pain from occurring, or just mitigate it enough so you can get the most out of your trip into the wilderness? Here are a few tips from an outdoor enthusiast and natural-pain-management professional:
- Take a good look at the quality of your shoes. Are they supportive, both to the soles of your feet and around your ankles? Are they worn down on the soles yet? Investing in a good pair of supportive shoes can mean the world when you are putting miles on them, particularly over rugged terrain or slippery surfaces. There are also shoe inserts or insoles made for hiking shoes that can offer an added layer of support. If you look at big outdoor equipment retailers such as REI, you shouldn’t have a problem finding them, as well as a professional to help you find the right pair for your unique feet.
- Consider getting a sleeping pad. Depending on how far away from your car you intend to trek, you may or…