What’s keeping you from enjoying the outdoors?
Summer is here, the snow is melting, the campgrounds and picnic areas are open, the hiking trails are drying out and the fish are waiting to be caught. It is the season to get out of the house and into the great outdoors. Below are a couple of common concerns that can be easily remedied to make some activities more fun.
- You would like to sit around the campfire, but you find those fold up packable chairs uncomfortable. These chairs have a tendency to force you into a slouched position. Pack a towel or small pillow across the back for added support. Make sure you scoot your hips to the back of the chair then lean forward to put the pillow or folded towel in behind you. Depending on how you fit the chair, it might feel better to sit on your pillow. Experiment, move the pillow around and try a couple positions to see what feels best. If your feet don’t reach the ground find a log (take one from the firewood pile) or a rock and use it for a foot support. The idea is to get your spine to maintain its normal curves, preventing strain on the back or the neck.
- You would like to go canoeing or boating but those bench seats give you no back support and you can’t stay out long. Take along your favorite stadium seat and set it on the boat seat before you sit down. Now you have some back support. Don’t forget your life jacket.
- You would love to hike, but your balance is not what it used to be, or if walking it bothers one or both of your joints. Think about trying a hiking stick. With a single stick use it in the hand opposite your painful leg to decrease the strain. If you use the cane for balance you can use it in either hand. The walking stick will move with the opposite foot to improve your balance. If you decide to use 2 walking sticks the right stick moves with the left leg, the left stick with the right leg. Or you can move both sticks at the same time with the leg that gives you trouble to give it extra support. Try using them different ways to find the best option for you.
You can purchase a pair of trekking poles or a single more supportive walking stick. But if you don’t want to spend the money or you forgot your sticks at home, look around in the forest. There are often downed trees or branches you can find that will be just right or can easily be broken to size and will work great for the day. So how tall should your stick be? If you stand with your elbow bent to a 90-degree angle at your side, that is about the right height for the hand grip.
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- When you are headed for a hike don’t forget to pack a small backpack or fanny pack to bring along water to stay hydrated, sunscreen, a few snacks and don’t forget the bear spray.
Before you head out, think of what your activity for the winter has been. Start out small and build up to longer hikes and bigger adventures as the summer goes along. Take the time to get out of the house and enjoy the magnificent country you are living in. If you don’t think you are up to getting out to enjoy the outdoors, consider talking to a physical therapist to see if they can help you get ready.