Camping and enjoying the great outdoors is a fantastic sensory experience. The smell of the pine trees, the fresh breeze that glides across your face, the warm sun on your shoulders, and the shooting pain down your back. Wait... that last one is not so fantastic, but as a person who handles chronic back pain daily, there are ways to keep it at bay. Giving up camping and nature’s playground is not an option for us nature-lovers, so here are five ways to keep back pain at bay when you camp.
1. Back Friendly Camping Sleep Options
I can attest with great passion the absolute wreck your back will be in after sleeping a night in an air mattress or roughing it on the ground. It seems near impossible to find an air mattress that doesn’t slowly leak, and even if it were 100% secure, the flux in temperature from setup to the coldest time of night will change the inflation (PSI - which feels like a night elf dialed down your sleep number) as the air expands and contracts. Below are back friendly sleeping options.
Cot - There are a variety of cots out there, some with built in tents and a 3’’ pad. I’d recommend adding an additional pad on top of the cot for both insulation and comfort. There are even backpacking-friendly cots that weight 2-3 pounds.
Hammock - these are all the rage these days. Not only are they back friendly they are light and offer multiple uses. Make sure and sleep in a 45 degree diagonal with the hammock to achieve the flattest angle for your back. Without this technique your feet will fall asleep and you could experience pain. Also make sure there is insulation below you (i.e. yoga mat, sleeping mat, or custom insulation designed for your hammock). Lastly, make sure you learn some easy release knots, use tree straps, or carry a multi-tool with pliers to untie the knot. With the tension from your weight it gets pretty snug.
Bed - Put your favorite memory foam mattress in your travel trailer, pop-up tent trailer, tear drop, the back of your SUV, or rooftop tent. There are travel-friendly memory foam mattresses that fold up in thirds, which would be better suited for the last three options.
2. Warm up before play
Camping is about being active.