With nice weather often comes the urge to hit the trail. Whether you are planning a day hike or a multi-day backpacking trip, it's vital that you keep the health of your knees and back in mind so that you don't suffer an injury. The following tips can help you keep your joints and back healthy on the trail.
Tip #1: Pick the right shoes
Unless you are going to be doing major mountaineering, opt for lighter-weight trail shoes instead of heavy hiking boots. You can find trail shoes that are breathable yet water-resistant. For extra support, opt for a hightop style that offers ankle support.
Try the shoes on and make sure they fit well and support the arch of your foot appropriately. If necessary, invest in a quality insert for further arch support. The wrong shoes can lead to an aching back and sore knees, so it's vital that you choose the right footwear.
Tip #2: Carry your weight wisely
It can be tempting to let the weight of even a light daypack to sit on your shoulders. This can lead to major back pain later, though. It's best to choose a back with a hip belt so that you can carry most of the weight on your hips. You can even find small daypacks with hip belts.
When loading your pack, put heavier items near your back and lighter items toward the outside of the pack. This prevents the pack from drooping and pulling uncomfortably on your back and shoulders.
Tip #3: Use a hiking pole
Trying to scramble up a steep trail or control your movements down a trail can put strain on your knees and back. This is where hiking poles can really come in handy. Not only can you use them to help stabilize your body and to take the strain off your joints, you can also use the poles to test footing before taking a step, which can help you avoid injury.
There are collapsible poles available that you can easily slide into your pack; this way you don't have to carry them all the time.
Tip #4: Visit your chiropractor
If you have had back or knee joint issues in the past, take the time to schedule a chiropractic visit before you begin hiking this season. They can make sure your back is well adjusted. A chiropractor can also help you identify potential problem areas with your back health, which means they can make some recommendations for trail warm-ups and exercises that are specific to your situation. You may even want to bring in your pack so they can help you adjust it to your body's specific dynamics.
Click here for info about chiropractors and how they can help.