Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Strengthen Your Back

If you've seen a sign like this before, you already know what you're in for.  Backpacking can be a bone jarring, abusive, hell of an experience if you're not prepared.  I will be the first to try and advise you against getting in over your head too early in your backpacking career.  

The first advice that most individuals will give you, in preparing for a trip, is to reduce pack weight.  Yes, this is an important aspect of backpacking; I can't deny that.  A lighter pack will always make for an easier hike.  For me, strengthening your back is equally as important as obsessing over pack weight.  If your back isn't properly conditioned and prepared for the rigors of the trail, you will find yourself subjected to bad hiking form and quicker fatigue.  

Q: What is bad hiking form?

A:  Leaning forward.  You may not notice it at first, but as the pack begins feeling heavier you will find yourself leaning forward in an attempt to alleviate strain and shift pack weight.  From personal experience, this does nothing but abuse your knees and wear you down at an even more rapid pace.  Your miles will be cut short and sleeping on the ground won't help with the soreness one bit.  

Q:  How do I go about building up the strength in my back?

A:  Have I got an answer for you!  In just a minute i'm going to give you a link to a pro tips page through Backpacker Magazine's website.  This page directs you through 3 basic exercises:  kneeling halfmoons, loaded step-ups, and low back complex.  I can tell you from experience that these work.  Not only do they work, they work fast!  You can feel the localized muscles used after your first session.  These workouts won't consume your whole day, but you have to be committed to actually doing them.  Follow the link to learn more.  Pro Tips!

A little bit of pre-training will make your backpacking experience significantly better for everyone involved.  Prepare so you don't wreck yourself and maybe i'll see you out there!  

On a side note:  I'm less than a month away from my Colorado trip!  I'm in the process of checking all my gear out and deciding on what's going and what is staying at the house.  I'm down to exactly 12 work days before the trip.  Fingers crossed for an amazing experience!  

Until Next Time,

Trying out a new template, so bear with me.

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