Post-Hike Zero Day: Appalachian Trail
I laid on the padded exam table in a chiropractor’s office in Bangor, Maine. Work your magic doc, I thought as he placed his hands on my back. He moved them down my spine, and within seconds he jumped into action. I could tell from his excited tone that I was a field day of adjustments, and he was stoked to take on the task.
We cracked my spine back into place, we elongated the compression and tension in my neck, we sorted out the tendency for my pelvis to shift and then he did a series of laser and massage treatments on my collarbone, arms and calfs. It was the best chiropractic exam I’ve ever had, and although I’m still having pain, I feel like my body is not as tense, and ultimately I need go do a few easy stretches morning, noon and night. I can’t recall the name of what I likely have, but it’s basically backpacker’s syndrome which is to say that I wear a pack and my shoulders roll and slouch inward and I have serious compression in the joint and muscle area that is restircting blood flow to my arms. I’ve only experienced this quality of pain once before: when I had an absess, more specifically two absess over the course of two years, as a result of the one and only cavity I’ve had in my thirty-something existence. It f**king hurts and sometimes I wake with tears running down my cheeks. With my oral health, I had them pull the tooth finally and embraced my inner hillbilly. But hell, I can’t pull off my arms. How would I hold my trekking poles?
I plan to get a chiropractor and massage monthly for preventative care, and if I go broke doing so, the hell with it. This is a once in a lifetime trip I’m on, and it’s possible thru-hiking such lengths will not be in my future. Simply put, thru-hiking is traumatic on a hikers body, especially my body even if I’m incredibly flexible and stretch every day. It can break down, tire out and traumatize even the most fit athletes. It can even wear on plastic orange ducks too, as even Squackers is tired, his peppy Squack not so consistent with that of the past. I think he’s ready to get a sunburn too…
But we’ll persevere. Oh we shall. Lots of yoga. More supplements, including B12 which the chiropractor gave me. More smoothies in town. Jelly donuts and hot steaming cups of coffee. Okay, the donuts aren’t great for my health necessarily, but they lift my spirit so thay had to count, right?
Additionally, Rookie was very kind to give me a massage, and he was able to unearth a few painful knots. But I’m still not back to normal, and the hike must go on. If I take more than one day off, it’s just as detrimental as hiking a steady stream of 30’s in the rugged, rooted woods of Maine. 30’s in New Mexico…totally reasonable.