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Ask Buck

Disk Jockey

If I've had a spinal fusion in my lower back, can I still backpack?

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Question:

I’ve just had a spinal fusion at the last two disks in my lower spine. As an avid hiker and backpacker, what suggestions do you have for me? I would truly hate to give up this passion.

Submitted by – AJ, Alto, Georgia

Answer:

I can’t think of any reason why you would have to give up backpacking—excepting, of course, massive amounts of pain. Some people, in fact, find backpacking more pleasurable after a fusion since, post-healing, you should hurt less overall than before the procedure. The standard recommendations are: Be sure that most of the weight of your pack rides on a padded hip belt, and try to go lighter in weight. Also, when you lift anything, use your legs instead of your back, and hike with trekking poles for better balance and reduced back strain. —Buck