Tips for Hunting Season: Avoiding Low Back Pain

With the temperatures dropping and the leaves changing comes my favorite time of the year – fall hunting. Whether you’re a turkey hunter, or a deer hunter like me, you have no doubt spent countless hours sitting . . . and waiting . . . for that trophy to make its way past you. It does not matter if you prefer a tree stand, ground blind or sitting on the ground against a tree the effects are the same – prolonged sitting takes its toll on your back and neck.

According to McKenzie (Treat Your Own Back, 8th Edition, 2006), the most common cause of low back pain is postural stress. This type of pain is frequently produced by, among other things, sitting for a prolonged period in a poor position. Unfortunately for most of us hunters, mother nature does not give us much choice. I have yet to come across a seat with an adjustable back and armrests in the woods I frequent. However, there is hope. By following these few simple steps, you should notice an improvement in your ability to sit without pain:

    • Before you make your way to the woods, take a few minutes at the house to stretch. This can be as simple as performing some lower trunk rotations, knees to chest, mid back stretching and my personal favorites – back bends and press ups. (pics 1-5) 10 repetitions should do the trick and shouldn’t take you longer than a few minutes.
      low back stretches
      Supine Trunk Rotation
      low back stretch
      Supine Double Knee to Chest
      Low back stretch
      Hands and Knees Flexion
      Low back stretch into extension
      Prone Press Up
      standing low back extension stretch
      Standing Extension

       

    • Maintain the lordosis (curve or hollow) in your low back while you are sitting. This can mean that you actively maintain an upright posture with your chest out and shoulders back, or my preference, use a lumbar support. This can be as easy as carrying a rolled-up towel in your hunting bag that you can place at your belt line in the back to help you maintain that good sitting posture. (pic 6)
      Correct sitting posture
      Correct Sitting Posture

       

    • Break up that prolonged sitting with a slouch/overcorrect exercise while you are in the woods. I know hunters, we want to move as little as possible when we are out there, but what’s better – moving a little so you can sit and hunt longer or having to end your hunt early because your back hurts too much to sit? (pics 7-8 overcorrect/slouch).

 

Sitting low back stretch
Sitting Extension Stretch

 

sitting low back stretch
Sitting Slouch Stretch

 

By incorporating these simple postural and stretching solutions into your hunting day, the negative effects of postural stress and resulting discomfort and pain will diminish. Now…get out there and enjoy the hunt.

 

About the Author: Jeff Hunter, PT, Cert. MDT, MBA, is the director of the Wentzville, MO clinic and has been practicing physical therapy for over 20 years. He is a certified McKenzie spine specialist and he enjoys treating a wide variety of acute and chronic spine conditions. He is an avid outdoorsman and he enjoys hunting, fishing and spending time with his children.

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