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Thread: Back Pain

  1. #1
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    Default Back Pain

    Would like to hear from backpackers how to best manage a heriated (L5/S1) spinal disc. I have been hiking for just a few years with a ten pound daypack, lightweight boots, and trekking poles.

    Before plunging into backpacking would like to get some feedback re: internal vs. external frame packs; whether one brand is designed “better” for back support than others; and opinions on how to approach long-distance backpacking?

    Any suggestions with regard to equipment or training would be appreciated. Thank you.

  2. #2
    Registered User Frog's Avatar
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    I have deginerated disc in my lower back. I do as many exercises as i can to build up lower back mucsles. Working out in a pool has been the best for me. As far as packs go i have one of each. I dont have near as much pain when i use the internal pack. I use an Osprey. This pack seams to carry alot better than any other pack that i have used. While on the trail always strech as much as possable in the morning and rest before it starts hurting. I just try to walk an hour and rest 10 minutes. Sitting around camp can also make this hurt. So take a camp chair. The benifits out weigh the weight by far. When you buy a pack go to a reliable store and try on as many as possiable. But i have found the Osprey either to be the best pack for my back by far.

  3. #3

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    I also have back pain in my spine. Luckily, it only happens when I am sitting. I am also fortunate in that I am fine if I sit in a recliner or sitting in my car (my car has unusually ergonomic seats).

    I've never had back pain while hiking, even with heavy loads (knock on wood), but I can recommend something:

    Glucosamine (along with Chondroitin and MSM) have been proven in numerous studies to help rebuild cartilage and alleviate back pain.

    Additionally, a recent study found that there's a synergistic effect in pain relief when glucosamine is taken alongside ibuprofen.

    You can get discounted bulk glucoasmine/msm/chondroitin off www.puritanspride.com

    Beware, it takes up to two months to start working. Unfortunately, it hasn't helped me at all in 3+ months, but it's helped numerous others.

  4. #4
    GAVA '04; GAME '05
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    my back giving out or my knees hurting due the the extra weight is my biggest fear for my upcoming thru-hike. I have two fused lumbar vertibrae, so my back can be sore or really hurt sometimes, but other times it's fine even after some heavy work.
    I'm new to backpacking, but to prepare, I've been doing daily short hikes with a back brace, and so far it has been fine, which makes me hope that I might be ok once I start hiking all day long.
    Good to hear that the Osprey is a good pack, and thanks for the glucosamine-ibuprofin tip. Hopefully pills+back brace will = relatively painless thru-hike. Thanks for the tips.

  5. #5
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    Default back pain...

    Quote Originally Posted by ednl
    Would like to hear from backpackers how to best manage a heriated (L5/S1) spinal disc. I have been hiking for just a few years with a ten pound daypack, lightweight boots, and trekking poles.

    Before plunging into backpacking would like to get some feedback re: internal vs. external frame packs; whether one brand is designed “better” for back support than others; and opinions on how to approach long-distance backpacking?

    Any suggestions with regard to equipment or training would be appreciated. Thank you.


    ednl:

    excercises for the back have always helped me...to strengthen the lower back muscles & of course, losing a bit of weight "around the front" (belly) helps me too!

    i know everyone has his/her preferences...but, i choose an INTERNAL pack because it "hugs" my back & i feel i'm more in control & weight is distributed a bit more evenly...than with an EXTERNAL frame pack.

    good luck with your hike.

    see ya'll UP the trail!
    see ya'll UP the trail!

    "Jaybird"

    GA-ME...
    "on-the-20-year-plan"

    www.trailjournals.com/Jaybird2013

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    Default

    Besides everything mentioned already, hiking poles help take up to 1/3 of the stress off the body (according to Backpacker Magazine). Happy hiking.

  7. #7

    Default

    Also try a good osteopath! And some yoga! You can do yoga with back problems, in fact it is recommended. Iyengar yoga is the best method to help treat sports related injuries and strains! Believe it or not, standing on your head is the best thing for your lower back. Just make sure you tuck your tail bone in. I speak from experience with this...

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    Thank you all for the feedback and suggestions.... I will take them all to heart and see how far I can go !!!

  9. #9
    Registered Loser c.coyle's Avatar
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    Default Don't forget your abs

    Quote Originally Posted by ednl
    Thank you all for the feedback and suggestions.... I will take them all to heart and see how far I can go !!!
    I've had lumbar problems for 25 years. All of the above advice is good, but don't forget to keep your abdominal and oblique muscles strong. They compliment the muscles in your lower back. I've had lots of people tell me their back pain improved once they started doing ab work. Bent-leg sit-ups and crunches are good.

  10. #10
    Registered User Mr. Clean's Avatar
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    Also very important, and most folk forget, is to strengthen your side and stomach muscles. This will help your back. Think of a TP cardboard roll as your body. If the sides get wet, the tube will colapse pretty easily. Same for your body. It is really worth it for everyone to see a physical therapist for one or two sessions to learn side-strengthening exercises. It has worked for me. I always though that I had a bad back; it was just my back was trying to support my whole trunk and not just what it's designed for - your back. Lots of easy exercises for the sides and stomach.
    Greg P.

  11. #11
    2006 Thru-hiker in planning dje97001's Avatar
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    Default my back "pain" and my hamstrings...

    I thought I would add in a naïve perspective... I'm in my mid-twenties, and have had lower back "pain" since I was in high school. I say that in quotes because compared to some of the pain you all experience I am sure this is nothing... I haven't been able to sleep on my back since then, and can rarely stay in the same position for very long... when I stand on my feet too long, my back also tends to hurt. Anyway, I have actually found a solution to my discomfort (from a former coach)...

    this sounds wierd (and again I have no medical evidence/proof) but my hamstrings are really tight--I mean REALLY tight. I find that if I do a decent job of stretching before bed, that I can spend more time laying on my back (sans pain). Also, if I find my back hurting, I simply have to spend some time stretching my hamstrings and the pain does dissipate. Again, I doubt this helps most of you, but maybe those with back "discomfort" as opposed to pain.

  12. #12
    Registered User orangebug's Avatar
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    I am currently 11 days post op from a microlaminectomy of L5-S1 disc. I'm in my early 50's and know that the original injury began during a college summer working in a lumber yard, turning trees into pallets for the American Greeting Card company.

    You should not take general advice regarding how you should deal with backpacking or medical procedures without knowing a great deal about your back and health. The typical back problem is chronic, improving and relapsing without regard to treatment or neglect. A decision to treat should be based on severity and persistence of symptoms, especially with certain knowledge based on exams consistent with MRI demonstrations of pathology.

    Prevention and improvement in function is the goal of treatment and therapy to avoid treatment. Control of your weight, improvement in flexibility, avoidance of bad posture and movement (bending to pick up stuff) and such are important. Unfortunately, many of us don't get to this until _after_ the surgery.

    BTW, I've found my Leki's are really good to help my twice daily walks since surgery.

    Bill....

  13. #13
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    Hey Bill...I am 22 days post L5-S1 microdisectomy (I think a very similar surgery to yours). I agree with everything you have said. I have had various back problems for almost 10 years. I have about done it all PT, cortizone shots, steriods, epidural steroid injections. My rehab doc says that the best therapy is walking, however, he and my PT friend both say that "core strengthening" is essential in reducing future flair ups/injuries. I am currently increasing my distance in walking post op. I'll start PT in about another month. I strongly recommend that if you have a back problem see a rehab or sports med Dr. Tell them your goals, then specifically ask to go to a PT and ask for a recommendation of PT that knows backpacking/outdoor sports.

    Happy Trails,
    Weeknd

  14. #14

    :banana Back Problems

    I can relate to evrything. I also have L5/S1 situation and use core exercises and frequent movement. (walking, etc). Hopefully will be on AT this year. I do use a lot of what has been said....may switch to an internal frame. $$$$ I started taking CVS brand arthritis pills...last up to 8 hours and have found major relief using them. It seems that the momemtums I use just wasn't lasting long enough. So far so good. Will be doing day hikes in Catskills in a few weeks and will bring back support with me just in case. I'll see how it goes. Anycase, I know from last blow-out, it took me about 14 months to be able to do distance extended trips. Good luck to all. Steve CT (Little Bear 2)

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