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Why Does My Back Hurt After Hiking?

If you’re like most people, you enjoy hiking in the great outdoors. But have you ever experienced pain in your back after a hike? If so, you’re not alone. In this article, I will explore some reasons why your back might hurt after hiking, and I will also discuss ways to prevent back pain from occurring in the first place. So read on to learn more!

So why does my back hurt after hiking?

Well, everyone’s back is different. You can read my personal story below, but the TLDR is that I hurt my back in high school, and hiking hasn’t been the same for me since. That said, here are some of the main reasons I’ve found why my back was hurting after hiking:

1. You didn’t warm up before the hike.

One of the most common reasons your back may be hurting after a hike is that you didn’t warm up before embarking on the trail. It’s important to take some time to do some light stretching and walking around before starting a hike, especially if you’re not used to being active. Doing this will help you loosen up your muscles and prepare your body for the physical activity ahead.

2. You didn’t pack enough water.

Another reason your back may be hurting after a hike is that you didn’t pack enough water. It’s important to stay hydrated when hiking, as dehydration can lead to muscle cramps and other problems. Make sure to bring along enough water for the entire hike, and consider packing some extra in case you get thirsty along the way.

3. You didn’t pack enough food.

Like water, it’s also important to pack enough food when hiking. If you don’t have enough energy, your body will start to break down muscle tissue to fuel itself, leading to pain and discomfort. Pack plenty of snacks and a few meals to keep your energy up throughout the hike.

4. You hiked too fast.

Another common reason for back pain after a hike is that people tend to hike too fast. While it may be tempting to try and power through the hike as quickly as possible, this can strain your body, particularly your back. Instead, take your time and focus on enjoying the experience rather than rushing to the finish line.

5. You hiked for too long.

Finally, one of the most common reasons for back pain after a hike is that people often hike for too long. If you’re not used to being active for extended periods, it’s important to build up your endurance gradually so your body can adjust accordingly. Start with shorter hikes and work your way up to longer ones, so your body has time to adjust and avoid unnecessary pain or discomfort.

What can I do to help my back pain after hiking?

I say this again below, but make sure you call or see a doctor if you have back pain after hiking. Now that I’ve gotten my disclaimer out of the way, I’ll tell you what works for ME (but may not work for you):


One of the best things you can do to relieve back pain after a strenuous hike is to rest. This means taking a break from any physical activity that may aggravate your pain, such as hiking, and instead focusing on activities that will help you heal, such as lying down or taking a hot bath.


When it comes to relieving back pain after a hike, ice is often the best solution. I find that applying a cold pack to my back for 20 minutes or so helps to reduce inflammation and ease the pain. I like to keep a few packs of frozen vegetables in my freezer specifically for this purpose, but you can also use ice packs or even a bag of frozen peas.


If ice doesn’t seem to be helping, you can try applying heat instead. This can be done with a heating pad, hot water bottle, or a warm compress. Apply heat to the affected area for 15-20 minutes and repeat daily.

Stretch and massage

Stretching and massaging the affected area can also help to relieve back pain. Try gently stretching the muscles and using your hands to massage any knots or tension points. Doing this several times per day should help to reduce your pain levels.

And y’all know I love TikTok, so here’s another quick stretch that has REALLY helped me:

How do I know if I need to see a doctor?

If you experience any pain in your back after hiking, always err on the side of caution and call a doctor. Back pain can be a sign of a more serious injury, so it’s important to get checked out by a medical professional as soon as possible. Don’t self-diagnose or treat back pain alone, as this could lead to further injury. Instead, call your doctor and schedule an appointment to check the issue.

My personal back injury story

I have always loved playing basketball, and I was never the best player on the team, but I always gave it my all. And I was pretty tall for my age, so I had a natural advantage.

Then during my sophomore year in high school, I grew another six inches. Suddenly, I was one of the tallest kids on the team. And my height came with some extra muscle mass too.

I was excited about my new size and strength. But it turns out that all that extra growth came with a price. One day, I got a stress fracture in my back during a game. And my back hasn’t been the same since.

How it’s impacted my hiking

It’s no secret that my lower back is not as strong as it used to be. After all, I did suffer a stress fracture in that area. So now, when I go on a strenuous hike, I often feel pain in my back.

It’s frustrating because I love hiking, and n have to be more careful about my hikes. I have to ensure that the hike isn’t too strenuous for my back, and that’s not always easy.

Sometimes I feel like I’m limited in what I can do. But I’m trying to stay positive and focus on what I can still do. Hiking is one of those things!

So even though my back might hurt after hiking, that doesn’t mean I will stop doing it altogether. Hiking is just too much fun! Instead, I’ll continue to take it easy and choose hikes that are appropriate for my current fitness level.

Frequently asked questions about back pain while hiking

Can I prevent back pain while hiking?

There are a few things that you can do to help reduce your risk of back pain while hiking. First, choose a hike that is appropriate for your current fitness level. If the hike is too strenuous, it could put a lot of stress on your back and cause pain.

Secondly, focus on good posture while hiking. Make sure to keep your back straight and your head up. This will help to reduce the amount of stress on your back.

Lastly, stretch and massage the muscles in your back before and after hiking. This will help to keep them loose and flexible, and it may help to reduce your risk of pain.

What are the symptoms of back pain while hiking?

Back pain symptoms while hiking can include stiffness, pain, and numbness in the back. If you experience any of these symptoms while hiking, it’s important to stop and rest until the pain goes away. Continuing to hike with back pain could lead to further injury.

What should I do if I experience back pain while hiking?

Stop and take a break if you are experiencing back pain while hiking. You might need to adjust your backpack or tighten your straps, and you might also need to loosen your clothing or remove some items. If the pain persists, seek medical attention.

Is there anything I can take to help relieve back pain while hiking?

Yes, you can do a few things to help relieve back pain while hiking. First, make sure to stay hydrated and take breaks often. You can also try using a backpack with shoulder straps instead of a waist pack. If the pain persists, consider seeing a doctor.

Should I stop hiking if my back hurts?

There is no definitive answer to this question. Some people may find that their back hurts occasionally and can still hike with minor discomfort. Others may find that their back hurts more frequently or to a greater degree and may need to stop hiking altogether.

It is important to listen to your body and be honest about how much hiking you can do without causing pain. If your back hurts after hiking, take a break for a few days, see a doctor if the pain persists, and reconsider your hiking routine.