Alternative Medicine
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Hiking with a disability or condition such as arthritis can be painful if precautions are not taken to prevent inflammation, joint stiffness and muscle cramps. Incorporate techniques and tips specifically designed for sufferers of arthritis into your next backcountry hiking expedition to ensure your day is pain free and comfortable.

Exercise Routine

Begin a physician-approved exercise program. Focus on areas in the body where arthritis and inflammation are present. Incorporate exercises that target core muscle groups such as the legs, stomach, back and arms, which require conditioning before the exertion of a long hike.

To prepare your body for the terrain and distance traveled while hiking in the backcountry, start with short hikes and build distance over time. Become comfortable with gentle terrain before moving on to more rugged, hilly terrain.

Gear and Other Essentials

Wear properly fitted hiking shoes with orthopedic inserts to reduce pressure on your legs and back. Provide the same level of support to your body with lightweight hiking gear. Three-pound hiking backpacks are available online and at local camping stores.

Pack light to help the overall functionality of the lightweight material. Include essentials such as water, protein-rich snacks, sun block, anti-inflammatory medication, maps and a cell phone with strong signal receptivity, which is essential in the event of a fall or injury.

Engage shoulder, neck and center straps on your lightweight backpack for added support. Distribute weight evenly across the backpack from top to bottom and side to side.

Support and Pain Relief

Stretch and take periods of rest during your hike to stave off joint stiffness. Regardless of how long your backcountry hiking expedition is, muscle cramps can occur, so routinely stretch your hands, arms, shoulders, lower and upper back, neck, hips and legs.

Aid your walk with a walking stick if necessary, to reduce body tension and to help you scale more hilly terrain. Speak with a physician before purchasing, as a walking stick may not be appropriate for all sufferers of arthritis.