Summer is in full swing, and that means camping trips are too. Camping means pitching a tent, sleeping under the stars, and making s'mores, but you don't have to be an Eagle Scout to know there's more to it than that. Besides preparing your food supplies and first aid kit, you can also prepare your body and our tips can help.
Prepare Your Body
Unless you're glamping, a camping trip in the woods usually requires physical activity. That's why you want to be sure you're up to the task of pitching tents, hauling gear, and hiking.
The best way to reduce injuries to your joints is to get them in top working condition before your trip. Backpacker magazine suggests these three exercises to "injury-proof your joints".
- Single-Leg Squat to Heel-Tap: This move requires you to step down to initiate eccentric contraction and stimulate downhill motion. It strengthens the knees and quadriceps without shortening the muscles or stressing joints. Do 15 reps on each leg for 3 sets, then rest for 30 seconds.
- Stand on your left leg on a 6-8 inch step or box with both legs straight.
- Extend your right foot and flex it so it makes a right angle with your shin.
- With your hips level, drop into a single leg squat to lower your free foot to the floor. Your heel will be slightly forward of your standing foot.
- Tap your heel to the floor, then rise slowly, and keep your hips level and knees in line with ankles and hips. Repeat for 15 reps, then switch legs.
- Start by wearing an empty pack. Make it harder by adding 6-7 pounds each week. Work up to the weight you plan to carry on your next trip.
- Heel Raises: Heel raises make you stay balanced while rising up on the balls of your feet. This helps you to develop calf strength and ankle stability to thwart sprains. Do 30 reps for 3 sets, then rest for 30 seconds.
- Stand on the balls of your feet on a low box or step with your 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. Maintain even weight distribution on each leg. Be sure to avoid rolling to the outside edges of your feet. If you cannot 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 make it harder? Try them on one leg. Still too easy? Add a pack loaded with 5-10 pounds and add 5 pounds each week until you reach your pack weight, or add five reps each week until you reach 50.
- Boulderfield Step-Ups: These step-ups stimulate grueling climbs and improve hip strength and overall alignment to keep your knees and ankles in control. Do 15 reps on each leg for 3 sets, then rest for 30 seconds.
- Stand facing a 6-8 inch box. Step onto it with your right leg, pushing through the sole of your foot to a one-legged stance. Be sure to engage your outer right hip to keep your right knee from collapsing inward.
- Follow through with your left 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 challenging, add a loaded pack. Want more of a 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.
To ensure your joints are functioning optimally for an injury-free camping adventure, schedule an adjustment with us. We specialize in the maintenance of simple and compound joints and the effect they have on surrounding tendons, ligaments, and muscles. When planning your camping trip, routine chiropractic visits will help you build up necessary strength, balance, and mobility that you'll need on the trail.
We can also provide you with a list of exercises and stretches to improve flexibility. Preparing for your trip will minimize the stress on the parts of your body that take over when protecting weaker limbs and joints, which can lead to inflammation. Contact us to schedule your next adjustment, and happy camping!