I know everyone is excited that spring weather is just around the corner. We have a few snow banks left to melt, and fingers crossed we’re done with big snows for the season. Marshall and I are looking forward to getting some hiking in. We’ll probably start with the local favorite Bond Falls and then check out another one I enjoy, Star Lake Trail.
Inactivity is one of the biggest contributors to back pain. In the winter months it can be very easy to sit at a desk, drive in the car, or lay on the couch by the fire a little too much. If you’re like me and spent too much time inside this winter, the first few walks and hikes can leave you feeling sore. If you have any preexisting back or hip pain, this can affect you even more. When starting out, begin with a couple short walks on somewhat even terrain just to wake your hibernating body back up. Before heading out, it may be helpful to do 5-8 minutes of gentle stretching. You can google some hamstring, quad, hip, psoas, and ankle stretches. You can add in gentle back stretches too such as gently bringing your knees to your chest while laying on your back or even the cat cow yoga pose/ stretch. Once you’re ready to graduate to different uneven terrains this will actually lead to improved balance and better coordination of muscles in your back, legs, core, and even smaller muscles of the feet.
For those of you who are unsteady on your feet or don’t have the best posture resulting in back discomfort, you might want to invest in a pair of trekking poles. Hiking poles help keep you upright, stable, and take a lot of stress/ pressure off of your back. You can even use a walking stick you find along the way.
One more skill to practice is the “abdominal brace”. This is helpful once you get out on the trails and may need to duck under branches. Abdominal bracing helps create more stability for the spine. The best way to focus on this skill is to imagine someone is going to punch you in the side. In that moment, your abs, sides, and back all tighten up to protect you. This is also helpful if you pick anything up off the ground or like I mentioned if you go to duck under something on the trail.
If you’re looking for new hiking adventures in Vilas County, there’s a helpful phone app called Map It Vilas Co. It actually has a section to help you pick a trail based on what town you want to visit, your interests, or even the distance you’re wanting to walk that day. That’s how I found out about the Star Lake Trail. This spring and summer I’m hoping to find some new favorites. Feel free to stop by and share your favorites with me or even send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Doug and Jeanette love teaching people about health and wellness. If we haven't covered a topic that you're interested in, feel free to leave a comment and we'd be happy to give you our thoughts!