Fall is in full swing and that means cooler weather for camping trips. Camping means pitching a tent, making s’mores, and sleeping under the stars, but you don’t need to be an Eagle Scout to know there’s more to it than that. Besides preparing for your trip with food supplies and a first aid kit, you can prepare your body. Here are our tips:
PREPARE YOUR BODY
Unless you’re going glamping, a camping trip in the woods requires physical activity, and you want to be sure you’re up to the task of hauling gear, hiking, and pitching tents.
The best way for you to reduce the risk of injury to your joints is to get them in tip top shape before your trip. Backpacker Magazine suggests the following three exercises to "injury-proof your joints".
Heel Raises: This move requires you to stay balanced while rising up on the balls of your feet. Heel raises help develop ankle stability and calf strength, thwarting sprains. Do 3 sets of 30 reps, then rest for 30 seconds.
Stand on the balls of your feet on a step or low box, heels hanging off the edge. The soles of your feet should be parallel to the ground.
Raise your heels until your calf muscles are fully contracted. Be sure your weight is distributed evenly on each leg and avoid rolling to the outside edges of your feet. Can’t see the inside of your heel when you look down? You're doing it right!
Lower until your feet are parallel to the floor, then repeat.
Want to take it to the next level? Try heel raises on one leg. Still want a bigger challenge? Add five reps each week until you reach 50 or add a backpack loaded with 5-10 pounds and add 5 pounds each week until you reach your pack weight.
Single-Leg Squat to Heel-Tap: This exercises requires you to step down to stimulate downhill motion and initiate eccentric contraction. It strengthens the quadriceps and knees without stressing joints or shortening the muscles. Start with 3 sets of 15 reps on each leg, then rest for 30 seconds.
Stand on your right leg on a 6-8 inch box or step both legs straight.
Extend your left foot and flex it so it makes a right angle with your shin.
Keep your hips level, then drop into a single leg squat to lower your free foot to the floor. Your heel should be slightly forward of your standing foot.
Tap your heel to the floor, then slowly rise, keeping your hips level and knees in line with your ankles and hips. Do this for 15 reps, then switch legs.
Start with an empty pack. Increase difficulty by adding 6-7 pounds each week. Work up to the weight you plan to carry on your next backpacking trip.
Boulderfield Step-Ups: These step-ups improve hip strength and overall alignment to keep your knees and ankles in control and simulate grueling climbs. Complete 3 sets of 15 reps on each leg, then rest for 30 seconds.
Stand facing a 6-8 inch box. Step onto it with your left leg, pushing through the sole of your foot to a one-legged stance. Be sure to engage your outer left hip to keep your left knee from collapsing inward.
Follow through with your right leg to a 90-degree bend at the hip and knee.
Pause and hold the raised leg at 90 degrees for a count of two, then step down.
To make the move more difficult, add a loaded pack. Still want a greater challenge? Raise the setup up a few inches at a time, up to 3 feet high. You can also top the box with a pillow, as the unstable ground will engage and strengthen your outer ankle muscles.
The best way to ensure your body is functioning optimally for an injury-free backpacking adventure is to schedule an adjustment with us. We specialize in the maintenance of both compound and simple joints and the effect they have on the surrounding muscles, ligaments, and tendons. When planning your next backpacking trip, routine chiropractic visits will help you build the much needed balance, strength, and mobility to succeed on the trail.
We can also provide you with exercises and stretches to do at home to improve your flexibility. Preparing for your trip will reduce stress on the parts of your body that take over when protecting weaker joints and limbs, which can lead to inflammation. Contact us today with any questions or you schedule your next adjustment, and happy camping!