Low Back Pain When Hiking, Backpacking and Trekking

Low back pain is a common issue amongst hikers, backpackers and trekkers.

Long days sitting at the computer with shoulders rounded forward combined with recreational weekend outings with heavy backpacks and long hours on your feet can lead to uncomfortable pack pain.

If you have recurring back pain, it is best to address back pain symptoms with a physical therapist or orthopedic specialist.

And in addition there are a number of things that just about everyone can do to help their pain.

Improve your posture

Poor posture can lead to changes in your spine, pressure on muscles, discs and joints as well as nerve damage that contributes to pain. When you practice optimal posture techniques during the day you are less likely to experience the damage that contributes to pain and more likely to hike with good posture. Here are some exercises you can do to help strengthen the deep neck flexor muscles.

Use trekking poles

Research has shown that using poles can help alleviate pain when walking. “Pole use increases balance and stability, distributes weight through the arms and torso, and decreases loading of the spine and lower limbs.” And, “Trekking poles decrease lower extremity loading and forces.”

If you aren’t sure how to use trekking poles properly, here is some great advice from REI.

If you regularly experience back pain, important features to look for are shock-absorbing poles and foam or cork grip with extended sections of foam that go 4-5 inches down the shaft from the grip so you can easily move your hands to adjust for various terrain.

Wear the right backpack

It is worth taking the time to get fitted to get a back pack that is the perfect for you.
It is imperative that you get one that has a chest strap and a hip belt. The hip belt should ride snuggly around your hips to cover the front of your hips. This takes the weight of the pack off shoulders and spine and transfers it to the hips so that the big muscle groups of the lower body can carry the weight.

Build your core strength

Your core is a complex of muscles that include the muscles in your back, spine, abdomen, glutes and hips. These muscles act to stabilize your spine providing a firm foundation for all the activities you do. When you hike, run, walk, jump, bend over, and turn, these muscles work together. They transfer force through your body and if strong and well trained, help prevent you from having back, hip, knee and even neck pain.
Strengthen the weak muscles and stretch the tight

Sometimes there is a muscle imbalance in the core and this can lead to pain. It is common to see the hip flexors being very tight and the glutes and other core muscles being weak from sitting for many hours of the day. This combination could result in an anterior pelvic tilt which can cause lower back pain as well as knee and hip problems.

When I work with clients, I perform functional movement assessments to identify these imbalances and correct them with stability and strengthening exercise, stretching and myofascial release.

I recommend devoting time every single day to working on your core to ensure the right muscles are activated as you head up a trail.

Here are some exercises you can do to improve your glutes and core.


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Cardio Xiser Machine










Even if you do not have access to a gym, there are plenty of other options for in-home and outdoor cardio or interval workouts.

One of my favorite options for home, dorm, boat or RV workouts is the Xiser mini stepper machine. It folds to a flat 4-inch piece of metal for easy storage or portability.

The way the hydraulic system is made in Xiser products is totally different from other  steppers. It is heavy duty. This is the perfect machine for doing high intensity interval workouts!

Discount Promo Coupon Code for Xiser Stepper.

Save $15 for each Portable Stepper purchased from Xiser

Follow this link to the retail site and use the discount coupon code maria35 in the shopping cart for a $15 dollar discount on each new Xiser Stepper you purchase from Xiser Industries.

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Oakley Sunglasses Worn by Captain Glenn Shephard

One evening when we were watching the TV show Below Deck Sailing, we were excited to see the great-looking Oakley sunglasses that Glenn Shephard, Captain of the yacht Parsifal on the show was wearing. Have you wondered what sunglasses Captain Glenn wears?

It took some investigating but we were able to identify that Captain Glenn Shepard wears the polarized UV-protective Oakley Latch Key sunglasses with the violet or sapphire lenses.  In later episodes of Season 2 #BelowDeckSailing Captain Glenn wears a Ruby lens. These can be purchased on Amazon.

These glasses can be made into prescription sunglasses. Oakley recommends LensCrafters. Provide them with the Item model number: 0009394, OO9394-0755 Or OAK01ML.  They will order authentic Oakley lenses for you to make the prescription lenses for you (several hundred dollars) and will return the non-prescription lenses that were with the original frames.

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