Dr. Jen has just returned from a canoe trip in Algonquin Park. 3 days… unplugged… open air… beautiful lakes and sunsets but – did you ever notice that canoes don’t come with backrests? Or ergonomically designed seats? If the wind picks up, do you notice you favour paddling on your strong side? What about you’re sleeping mattress? Those packable, self inflating devices do not exactly consider lumbar support. Despite some of these issues, camping and canoeing are an incredible way to enjoy summer in Ontario.
Here are a few tips to make your trip more enjoyable:
Look for equipment that can make your trip easier on your body. Think about fold-up chairs with back supports. These are not the ones with legs that make portaging bulky but ones that fold flat and sit on the ground. This is Dr. Jen’s favourite piece of gear and is always in the trunk for beaches, parks, concerts, etc.
Look for backpacks that provide good support and have both shoulder straps and a waist strap.
Use a paddle that is an appropriate height for you and switch paddling sides at even intervals.
Also please, PLEASE check backpacks at any camp your child is going canoe tripping out of! So many have outdated, canvas packs with HEAD STRAPS. DO NOT LET YOUR CHILD USE A HEAD STRAP PACK!!!
Full packs exert a heavy toll on your neck, back and shoulders. To combat the strain, try to evenly distribute the weight in the pack and position any hard, bumpy or odd-shaped items so they won’t dig into you. Use a pack with wide, padded straps, and adjust them so it sits tight against your back.
Always bend your knees to lift gear and get help lifting a heavy pack onto your back. Avoid any swinging or twisting in the lifting process, including when taking a canoe across a portage or on and off the car.
When you’re hiking or canoeing, stop and stretch at least every hour to prevent stiff, sore muscles and joints.
And think ahead! Book an adjustment for the day you return to realign your spine!