Hiking is an excellent way for people to enjoy the beauty of the outdoors and it offers the added benefit of providing excellent cardiovascular exercise. As a trusted Los Angeles spine surgery center, we recommend hiking to our active readers because the nature of the activity works a variety of muscle groups including those that support the spinal column.
Individuals who hike regularly enjoy an increase in mass in the erector spinae muscles that serve to keep the vertebrae in their proper positions. They also form a barrier that can help prevent injuries in case of a fall or other accident. The abdominal muscles also become better developed and they also help to maintain the spine’s natural line.
In addition to building the muscles that support the vertebrae, hiking increases blood flow to the bony parts of the spine. Individuals who are at risk for osteoporosis, such as thin, Caucasian, and Asian women, may benefit from regular activity. The improvement in circulation can help increase bone density or prevent further bone loss in people who are suffering with the condition.
Hiking is a relatively safe activity in which most people can participate. Individuals who have significantly weakened spinal structures, especially those who have advanced osteoporosis, should not attempt to hike. The spine may bend excessively during the activity causing symptoms to worsen, and walking on rough terrain can increase the risk of falling.
People who wish to enjoy the spinal health benefits that may be provided from hiking should take care to protect themselves during the activity. When carrying a backpack, the heavier items should be loaded into the top of the pack in order to evenly distribute the bulk of the weight on the shoulders rather than on the lower back. Additionally, individuals who are ambulating over rocks and uneven ground should use a walking stick to provide stability.
At The Spine Institute Center for Spinal Restoration, we’re always looking to share fun ways for our readers to enjoy optimal spinal health. If you have other questions about spine care or to learn more about a condition, request an in-person consultation with Dr. Hyun Bae, a conservative orthopedic surgeon who specializes in non-fusion and minimally invasive surgery in Los Angeles. Call today – (310) 828-7757.