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View Full Version : ...those aching backs !



spider solo
02-01-2006, 04:22 PM
.....Time to take out those wallets...
Sure enough I'm back from a Physical Therapy evaluation session and the doctor tells me to take out my wallet.
I'm thinking "this is going to be a heck of a lot more expensive than I"ve anticipated"..but not so.
"Those are bad news" he tells me stating it would be the same as sleeping with a rock sticking you in the back..day after day...year after year. It's certainly not because it's overflowing with cash!
I'm no stranger PT over the years and sure enough It came as a reminder that I had been told this before.

Next he sets his sights on my belt ..nothing special just an every day belt and he's doesn't like that as well.
So what do you think of all about all the backpacking we do with those backpacks and waistbelts... even those small waist belts?

I have often heard backpain is the price we pay for walking upright....surely there must be some truth to that.
There must be others out there that have seen their fair share of backpain.
Any lessons learned ? Any tricks of the trade ?

I have often bicyled my way to good mobility..yet I've kept a cane handy since, well since forever it seems, though I go years and years while it gathers dust in the corner ,only to reach for it after I've thought I will never need it again.
I've long ago learned the benefits of staying physically fit...still this one sneaks up from time to time

What about you folks??

sapblatt
02-01-2006, 04:50 PM
spider -
never been one with chronic pain, but I am often sore after a hike or yard work, etc...
One thing that I read/learned a long time ago is that you need the opposing muscles to be strong too - for example, a strong back with a weak abdomen is a recipe for trouble. The same applies for hmastrings and quads - it is probably impossible to be perfectly balanced, but I try to be sure when I am working out to hit each group with some excercise.
Good luck and I hope you feel better. :)

erugs
02-01-2006, 04:58 PM
My first thought is that there are always many points of view. A podiatrist once looked at my footwear and told me my backpacking boots were not any good because they didn't have enough "give" to them, then showed me how to tape my foot for stability to help the discomfort I was seeking help for. My own personal opinion is that humans, for the most part, are meant to move around in many different ways. We've adapted and developed over time. I've found that the stretching and better understanding of my body's muscles, ligaments, etc., that I've learned through Yoga has gotten me far.

rhihn
02-01-2006, 05:03 PM
I have had back problems, too, though mostly in the past (I'm 59), leading me to believe it might have been stress related, at least in part. On the other hand, I have a deteriorating disc problem (common, I'm told). Exercises do seem to help. I don't have the problem when backpacking or sleeping in a tent. It mostly happens at home when I'm reaching down to pick up a piece of paper or something, and and I'm not thinking about how I bend down to do it. Perhaps I'm more conscious of how I put my pack on and take it off, etc., which is why I'm not affected when hiking? Warm-up and cool-down exercises might help, too?

Perhaps Neil will weigh in here!

Dick

dug
02-01-2006, 05:18 PM
Stretch, stretch, and then stretch again. After hiking, repeat. I've had a few various back issues over the years, and to avoid surgery rigerous stretching of the hammies, glutes, and back goes a long way.

CINDERSMOM
02-01-2006, 05:30 PM
Working in the field of Physical Therapy I can agree that is is important to have a strong core (abs and back muscles) and stretch those hamstrings. If you are lucky enough to find a really good PT they will address the underlying problem not just treat the current problem. Trunk stability exercises on a half foam roll and Yoga are a good combination. Hope you get well soon

Artex
02-01-2006, 05:37 PM
Ditto about the abs. Depending on the nature of the back problem, strong abs will help keep them at bay. Good luck.

king tut
02-01-2006, 05:50 PM
This is all good info. I was wondering about this stuff myself. I tend to exercise my upper and lower body but forget about the midsection. I occasionally pull a muscle in my lower back, and its no fun. I think it might be a recurrence of an injury several years ago when i was skiing. I was skiing in the woods(too fast), and my tips got caught in the powder and sent me airborne and a tree trunk broke my fall by hitting the lower side of my back. Maybe it was me who hit the tree? I could barely walk for a few days. Luckily the tree missed my spine though. I have started to do some core exercises(abs and back) and they seem to have helped strengthen my back. Any hints from those experts are great!

Chip
02-01-2006, 07:39 PM
Have you ever had your feet checked ? Did he look at the soles of your shoes ? If they wear unevenly (pronation or supination), everything else might be out of alignment also. I agree with the strength and stretching advise, but it was lower back pain initially (and sporadic severe foot pain eventually) that lead to my prescription orthotics.

grasshopper
02-01-2006, 08:23 PM
exersize the stabilizers ie the small, little utilized, muscles surrounding the big ones.hip flexors,knee stabilizers,oblique abs.too much streching can be bad.do not strech cold muscles as you will end up streching ligaments BAD!Work the core and then work the core some more.See backpacer article a month ago or so on Ed viesters and building the core.exersize at least a little every day.Walking is good sitting is death waiting to happen.the tv will kill you much more slowly and painfully than the mountains.

crippled but free I was blind all the time I was learning to see. (GD)

Neil
02-01-2006, 08:54 PM
Grasshopper has it pretty good. The low back stabilizers, the obliques, the transverse ab, and Glute Maximus are key. For example, strong hikers can have one glute or oblique ab muscle weaker than the other, it's quite common. The assymetry sets up compensatory mechanisms that will contribute to low back pain. Also very frequent contributors to LBP are tight hip flexors (which usually go hand in hand with weak low back extensors). If you can't extend your hip enough then in order to walk, each and every step taken involves some compensatory low back extension. Additionally, everyone has their own neorophysiological patterns and resultant muscle imbalances. Each LBP sufferrer needs to be examined by someone well versed in the correct analytical examination techniques. Ideally, the rehabilitative exercises prescribed will be tailored to the patient, not vice versa. It's not uncommon to have a patient stretch only one side and/or do bridges and lunges on another. Etc.

Aside:
Most abs exercises come with a heavy compressive "penalty" for the discs of the low back and put those same discs through the exact same motions that are used by researchers in order to create herniated disc in cadaveric specimens.

jfb
02-02-2006, 06:16 AM
[QUOTE=spider solo
There must be others out there that have seen their fair share of backpain.
Any lessons learned ? Any tricks of the trade ?

[/QUOTE]

Backpain is something I'm very familiar with.

The first doctor I saw just looked at me walking down the hall and told me I had torn the ligaments that were attached to my pelvis.

After a few years of suffering, I went to a Chiropractor and she didn't help at all.

After another painful episode, I went to another Chiropractor and he told me my spine was crooked (using the proper medical terms), then proceeded to lean on top of me and twist my spine until it was aligned a little better. He also recommended icing the muscles that had spasmed and taking ibuprofen (that helped a lot). For a few months I returned for spine adjustments about 3 times a week, then once a week for a few years until he retired.

That was a few years ago and I'm much better now, with occasional stiffness that goes away in a few days if I ice the muscles and take ibuprofen. Now I can carry a backpack all day with no problems whatsoever.

P.S. I never bothered doing any core muscle exercising or stretching, but can't say that they wouldn't help.

Head
02-02-2006, 07:40 AM
Contact me...Im in the field and specialize in LBP.

Rick
02-02-2006, 08:26 AM
After each of my heart surgeries, my back was constantly in pain and sometimes I would even have problems standing upright. While I would automatically think it was a "Back Problem", after the intial recovery period I would begin doing abdonminal work (crunches and full fledged sit-ups) and stretching, the pain always subsided and I felt (feel) great...

I also have a long pole that I put over my shoulders and hang my outstretched arms over I get down in a marriage proposal position (on one knee) and do twists. After about 20 reps, I switch knees. This really seems to help with the back and obliques (?) as well.

skiguy
02-02-2006, 09:36 AM
.....Time to take out those wallets...
Sure enough I'm back from a Physical Therapy evaluation session and the doctor tells me to take out my wallet.
I'm thinking "this is going to be a heck of a lot more expensive than I"ve anticipated"..but not so.
"Those are bad news" he tells me stating it would be the same as sleeping with a rock sticking you in the back..day after day...year after year. It's certainly not because it's overflowing with cash!
I'm no stranger PT over the years and sure enough It came as a reminder that I had been told this before.




Interesting what your saying about taking your wallet out of your pocket..I assume you mean your back pocket. I have an Uncle who just went through Hip surgery and his doctor told him the same thing. Basically he is a salesman who has been driving around for years sittting on his wallet.

I would totally agree with the opposing muscles being imbalanced causing major problems. A Pilate program will focus on your core strength which will work on your abs and back.

spider solo
02-02-2006, 09:46 AM
Thanks for he ideas and well wishes.
I am definitely "on the mend" and plan to be able to resume some hiking/shoeing while continuing with the PT.
Though, as one good friend told me..."someone needs a little patience here"....
I have thought of learning some yoga..usually I am one of the few guys doing my stretches faithfully where I exercise, but could probably use a more systematic routine than the I have evolved over the years.
I have had my walking gait looked at looked at a few years ago when a different type of back problem flaired up. We had to borrow a "walker" from our friend's 80 yr old mother for a few days (she was getting around better than I was). Thought for sure I was headed for surgery on that one but it was not to be.

One question though for those who have had orthopedic and back problems
Ever see a correlation between wearing crampons and back issues a few days later? I felt certain I noticed a relationship between the two after wearing them for a full days hike shortly after the big ice storm a few years back. Now I wear them as needed but remove them as soon as it's safe to do so.
The last two seasons were excellent for me and I had great snowshoe/hiking seasons.

Sitting..abs ...kayaking...
This different type of back thing has shown up this season and I have an idea I may have inadvertently set myself up for it.
Kayaking is a sitting sport, lots of rotation and core strength. I do lots of abs and crunches and for winter hikes I like to level off somewhere about 135 of them (not all at once) I think I pushed to hard and added to much to soon.
Remember that early Oct snowstorm ? I dove right on it and had a great snowshoe /hike up Lafayette...a few postholes before I put on the shoes. One a little nastier than the others but nothing that hasn't happened countless times before.
A simplified view I went from an upper body sport directly full tilt into a primarily lower body all leg powered sport. I knew at the summit I was "pulling up a bit lame". Plenty of aches and pains for the next few months and I reduced my hikes to mostly flat land and bushwacks. However it stopped me from any type of stretching and flexibility. I didn't have worry about touching my toes...I couldn't even reach my knees. The pain factor was signifigant from Oct thru early Jan..a bit of a bear you might say.

I'm speculating that's what lead to the current back/hip flexor issue that I haven't seen before.
I'm hoping the PT will pace things so I don't 'over achieve' ...doing to much to soon...which I've been known to do...(ok that's a bit of an understatement)
I don't know.... as good a theory as any??

I use suspenders on my hiking pants to keep the weight off and of course go as light as possible with the back pack..
I see some people who do canoes portages use a type of front and back "saddlebag" type pack but have also read they are an accident waiting to happen as you can't see your feet.
Has any one come up with some modified packs that you've seen or tried out?

skiguy
02-02-2006, 10:04 AM
One question though for those who have had orthopedic and back problems
Ever see a correlation between wearing crampons and back issues a few days later? I felt certain I noticed a relationship between the two after wearing them for a full days hike shortly after the big ice storm a few years back. Now I wear them as needed but remove them as soon as it's safe to do so.


Wearing crampons in certain conditions can be really "GRABBY" under foot. When hiking without them when not needed I have found that my feet give or even slide a bit with each step. Again with crampons when needed especially in a down hill situation things become "GRABBY"; there is no give. With the lack of give that energy gets transmitted up your leg to your lower back, which can cause lower back and knee pain. I find that if I adjust my gate, which usually means slowing down a bit and flexing the knees more helps absorb that energy more evenly; Again applied balanced strength between the abs/back and ham /quad relationship.

dvbl
02-06-2006, 07:07 AM
I didn't read all the posts, so this might already have been mentioned. Joe Montana (I think?) had lower back pain, and his doctor showed him some exercises to strenghten his abdominals and glutes. Fixed it for him. Strengthening your core can alleviate/avoid other aches and pains.

runnynose
02-06-2006, 09:50 AM
i would like to put a plug in for swimming. i think regular (even 2x a week) swimming and yoga are the best back pain prevention sports around.

erugs
02-06-2006, 10:29 AM
I was thumbing through the current issue of Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter and this headline stood out: "New Twist on Back Pain Treatment - Yoga." The column spoke about a research done recently at the Group Health Cooperative in Seattle and concluded "Yoga may be beneficial for back pain because it involves physical movement, but it may also exert benefits through its effects on mental focus." The trial had compared three treatment methods for back patients. The abstract is available (free) at www.annals.org/cgi/content/full/ 143/12/849. Interesting stuff if you enjoy stats.

Grumpy
02-06-2006, 12:46 PM
Experience prompts me to put in a plug for walking as therapy for lower back pain. In the episodes Iíve had over the years (muscle spasms rather than disc damage) walking invariably seems to have hastened my recovery. But I do have to be very careful about certain bend-reach-twist motions, tripping and spills while hiking, any of which could set off those wicked spasms that lead to excrutiating lower back and sciatic pain.

My guess is, thereís something to the Yoga bit. I live with lower back problems which produce a level of chronic pain. Prefer not to use and donít use medication, if possible, although Ibuprofen can work and is taken at times. Stretching exercises recommended by a physical therapist help. But on many occasions, if the pain starts when I get out of bed, say, it responds positively to my lying back down in a (somewhat) comfortable position, and focusing my mind on relaxing my muscles. When the tension is significantly eased that way for several minutes, I usually can get up and about my business with reasonable comfort (which is a very relative term).

G.

Amicus
02-06-2006, 01:28 PM
About six years ago back pain that at first came on for a day or two after really heavy lifting (as in piano or fridge) got chronic over the course of a year and very painful. X-rays traced the cause to two fractured vertebrae near the base of my spine from a toboggan accident (flew backward into a big tree) 20 years before - the normal curvature of the spine was "flattened" there which belatedly led to disc-compression which caused the pain.

I saw a very good PT who prescribed a regimen of crunches - a half-dozen different ones, some using a Pilates ball. They worked wonderfully. The back pains steadily subsided and after about two years were gone. I still do three of the crunches, about five sets of each a week. I'm careful about heavy lifting but not overly so.

Good luck!