Camping with a bad back can cause a lot of frustration when you’re expecting to have a good time with family and friends. In case it’s your first time, you’ll be worried about how you will sleep, how you set up the tent without killing your back and how you will carry belongings without excruciating pain or exposing your back to further injuries.
It can be even more complicated if you have a small baby that you need to carry along. Camping is fun and bad back should not stop you from enjoying yourself at your favorite camping destination.
First, if you have problems with your back you need to treat the camping like any other time you have gone. Plan early before camping day and assemble everything you need together with understanding the areas you are going to camp. The following tips will help you have a successful and enjoyable camping trip.
Camping always starts with packing and making the right decisions at this point will allow you to have a much more fun and less stressful time. There are basic factors that you should keep in mind while packing:
Camping bag – in case you are planning to walk a long way from your car to the campsite, you’ll want to consider choosing a light bag. A bag with a wider padded shoulder strap will be the best to offer proper back support and make the trek the least painful as possible. A bag made of light materials such as canvas or vinyl will be a good option.
Shoes – good camping shoes can make a huge difference in pain management. Make a smart investment by getting the best walking shoes for back pain that you can afford. They’ll make walking and standing for long stretches of time more tolerable.
Pack only what you need – remember you have a bad back and so you don’t need to carry a lot of things that will make it fee worse. It will be wise if you pack the items you will need and leave any non-essentials behind. Carrying a heavy backpack can cause further injuries to your back and end up ruining the fun. The weight on your back should not be above the recommended 15% of your body weight. More weight = more pain.
Break time – upon arrival at your favorite camping site you need to relax for at least a few minutes since you have been driving for a while. Try to walk around for a few minutes (unless you already walked a long way to the campsite) to stretch your legs to help your back relax from the prolonged sitting in the car. At this time don’t even think of unpacking! Make your back comfortable first to avoid aggravating it any more than needed.
Try to stretch – your bad back now needs some light stretching since you have likely been sitting in a car for a while. Lying on the grass and stretching will be an excellent option. Try to pull your knee to the chest among other few exercises to keep your back in good condition. Stretch your hamstrings by trying to touch your toes and hold for a few seconds. Lunges are also and excellent stretch to do.
Core strengthening – since you’ll be using your core muscles quite a bit and they are super important for back support, you’ll want to get them firing. Try doing some easy exercises such as a front plank and side-plank to get your core muscles warmed up.
Drink a lot of water – the idea of camping means that you will be likely spending a lot of your time in the sun. Dehydration can tighten up your back muscles and have a negative impact on blood circulation. Therefore, you’ll want to stay properly hydrated at all times.
Take care when lifting or bending – the unpacking phase while camping might force you to bend but always be careful to avoid tensing your abs since it can lead to further injuries. Don’t lift heavy things since overstretching your back can lead to more back pain. Take the items you need from the car slowly and in small amounts. It’s better to make multiple trips to the car than cause yourself additional pain.
Pain management – two of the best items to have on hand for pain relief when camping are an acupressure mat and portable TENS unit. Use the TENS device a few times a day (wireless models can be discretely hidden on your lower back) to reduce pain. An acupressure mat is great when you just want to lay down and rest. It not only releases endorphins while in use to reduce the pain level, it also helps promote blood circulation in the area to encourage healing. Also, don’t forget the Ibuprofen or any pain medication you take.
Consider stretching regularly – doing small exercises daily while camping is a great way to keep your core muscles healthy and active. Flexibility is often the keep to prevent additional injuries. Take at least 10-20 minutes every morning to do little exercises to prepare your body for the day’s activities.