There can often be nothing better than heading out into the
mountains for some exercise and fresh air, so it's important not to
let your back pain ruin an enjoyable long walk.
The following tips should help you prepare your body
appropriately so it leaves only the British weather to blame if
things don't work out well:
Before heading out
- Pace yourself - instead of heading out for your first hike on a
10 mile mountain circuit, allow your body time to adjust by
increasing the distances and the difficulty in terrain
- It is a good idea to perform some strengthening exercises
starting about 6 weeks before you head out on long challenging
- The gluteal (buttock muscles) are vital to support your lower
back and are important to help you climb those hills. See
previous articles describing glut-strengthening exercises - e.g
bridge and clam.
- Also strengthening the quadriceps will make the hill descents
much more tolerable - performing wall squats, sit to stand or
single leg squat exercises will help build these muscles.
On the day
- Ensure you wear appropriate comfortable shoes. You need
to ensure you have enough arch support and that the shoes offer you
enough protection against uneven terrain.
- If you plan to carry a backpack make sure you pack light.
Whether it is a day bag or a full backpack make sure you only take
the bare essentials. Also make sure the weight of the bag is
appropriately placed between your sternum (breast bone) and your
- Using walking poles might help relieve load through your lower
back especially on those high climbs.
- Think about your posture when you're walking - make sure you
don't let your head drop forward too much as this will add a lot of
strain to the neck and back muscles; similar to looking down at a
computer screen all day. Keep tall with your head over your
shoulders and don't lean forward too much especially on the
hills. If you have a diagnosis of spinal stenosis however,
the pressure on nerves in the lower back can be relieved by leaning
forward. Keep trying to focus on using your legs as much as
- If you feel yourself getting tension in your neck and shoulders
try performing a few shoulder rolls every 30 minutes to help relax
- Wearing a heat pack like the ThermaCare heat wrap whilst on the
move will also make sure your lower back muscles stay warm and may
provide relief to any pain you might feel.
If your back pain continues to stop you achieving the hiking
distances you want then it is advised to see a physiotherapist for
a full assessment. They will then be able to provide you with
specific advice to help get you back to climbing to the top of