Many hikers are often seen carrying heavy backpacks. They are also seen climbing over hilly terrains. It makes one wonder, can hiking cause lower back pain?
Hiking is a great way to get some exercise and fresh air, but it can also be tough on your body. Many people enjoy hiking without any issues, but others find it challenging.
Hiking can cause lower back pain due to several reasons, which include heavy and unbalanced backpacks, trekking over uneven terrains, improper gear, muscle strain, and even dehydration. It is important to pay attention to your body while hiking to prevent lower back pain.
Hiking is a great way to get exercise and see beautiful scenery, but if you're worried about lower back pain, there are things you can do to help prevent it.
Our hiking experts believe that proper preparation and precautions can help prevent lower back pain when hiking. Make sure to wear the right shoes, take breaks often, and drink plenty of water. However, if you still start experiencing lower back pain while hiking, stop immediately and seek medical attention.
How Can Hiking Cause Lower Back Pain?
Hiking is a great way to get some exercise and enjoy the outdoors, but it can also be a source of lower back pain. There are a few different ways that hiking can cause pain in the lower back, and understanding these mechanisms can help you prevent or treat the problem.
One way that hiking can cause lower back pain is by putting extra stress on the spine. The spine is not meant to bear a lot of weight, and when hikers carry heavy packs, they can put too much pressure on the spine, which can lead to pain. They also trek along uneven terrain, which can also put a strain on the spine, as the body has to work harder to maintain balance. Poor posture while hiking can also contribute to pain in the lower back.
Hiking can also cause lower back pain by leading to muscle imbalances. When hikers walk for long periods of time, they tend to use the same muscles over and over again, which can lead to imbalances. For example, if the quads are used more than the hamstrings, this can lead to an imbalance and eventually pain in the lower back. Muscle imbalances can also be caused by carrying a heavy pack on one side of the body, as this can cause the muscles on that side to work harder than the muscles on the other side.
Lower back pain from hiking can also be caused by inflammation of the joints in the lower back. When hikers walk long distances, they put a lot of impact on their joints, which can lead to inflammation. This is especially true if they are carrying a heavy pack, as this puts even more pressure on the joints.
Another cause of lower back pain while hiking is wearing improper shoes or boots. Hiking in shoes that are not meant for hiking can lead to pain in the lower back. Shoes that are too tight or don't provide enough support can cause pain, as can shoes that are worn out and no longer provide adequate cushioning.
Lower back pain can also be caused by dehydration. When hikers are walking for long periods of time, they sweat a lot and lose a lot of fluids. If they do not replace these fluids, they can become dehydrated, which can lead to pain in the lower back. Dehydration can also cause muscle cramps, which can add to the pain.
So, there are a few different ways that hiking can cause lower back pain. If you are experiencing pain in your lower back after a hike, it is important to see a doctor to rule out any serious causes of pain. In most cases, however, the pain is due to one of the mechanisms described above. If you are experiencing lower back pain from hiking, there are a few things that you can do to help prevent or treat the problem.
Treatments For Lower Back Pain While Hiking
If you are experiencing lower back pain while hiking, there are a few things that you can do to help relieve the pain.
Wear a Supportive Belt
Wearing a supportive belt can help to take some of the pressure off of your lower back. Make sure that the belt is tight enough so that it does not slip, but not so tight that it is uncomfortable. If you are unsure how tight the belt should be, ask a salesperson at a hiking or outdoor shop for help.
Adjust Your Backpack
If you are carrying a heavy backpack, this can put a lot of strain on your lower back. Try to find a backpack that has padding in the right places and that distributes the weight evenly. Also, make sure that you adjust the straps so that the backpack sits properly on your hips. Carrying too much weight on one side can cause you to lean to one side and put more strain on your lower back.
Strengthen Your Core Muscles
Strong core muscles can help to support your lower back and prevent pain. There are many different exercises that you can do to strengthen your core muscles, such as sit-ups, crunches, and leg raises. If you are not sure how to do these exercises, you can ask a personal trainer at your local gym for help.
Stretch Before Your Hike
Stretching before your hike can help to warm up your muscles and prevent injuries. Be sure to focus on stretching your back, hamstrings, and hips. If you are not sure how to properly stretch these muscles, you can ask a physical therapist or personal trainer for help.
Take Breaks During Your Hike
If you are hiking for a long period of time, be sure to take breaks often. Sitting down for a few minutes every hour or so can help to relieve some of the pressure on your lower back. If you start to feel pain, don't hesitate to take a break sooner.
Listen to Your Body
If you are experiencing severe pain, it is important to listen to your body and stop hiking. Continuing to hike when you are in pain can make the pain worse and can even lead to injuries. If you are unsure whether or not you should continue hiking, it is best to err on the side of caution and turn back.
Use Heat or Ice
Applying heat or ice to your lower back can also help to relieve pain. If you use ice, make sure to wrap the ice in a towel so that it does not come into direct contact with your skin. Do not apply ice for more than 20 minutes at a time. If you use heat, you can apply it for longer periods of time, up to 30 minutes. You can find heating pads at most pharmacies or drugstores.
See a Doctor If the Pain Persists
If you are experiencing severe pain, numbness, or weakness in your legs, it is important to see a doctor. These could be signs of a more serious condition, such as a herniated disc. In most cases, however, lower back pain while hiking is caused by muscle strains or other minor injuries. These can be treated at home with rest, ice, and over-the-counter pain medication. If the pain persists for more than a few days, you should see a doctor.
About THE AUTHOR
I’m a hiker, backpacker, and general outdoor enthusiast. I started hiking out of college while working for the National Forest Service, and have been hiking ever since. I’ve been solo hiking and leading hiking groups for two decades and have completed hundreds of small hikes and some majorones such as the Appalachian Train and the Pacific Crest Trail, and hiked on four continents. I’d love to share some of my insight with you.Read More About Peter Brooks