While rucking has quickly gained popularity, it is no easy task and sometimes brings with it difficulties like back pain.
After all, special forces designed this workout to be an extreme test of endurance.
The biggest concern with rucking is the toll on your body, specifically your shoulders and traps in your back. Proper recovery is important.
When walking with a weight on your back. even a mile ruck with some can leave you gasping for air.
The additional weight in your ruck sack will definitely cause your muscles to burn.
That’s because, with heavy weight strapped to your back, the weight is exerting far more pressure on your spine than it is used to.
When you’re carrying that much weight you risk body injury.
Don’t let this discourage you.
What many people don’t realize is that rucking only causes injury when you haven’t been training properly.
There are specific ways to carry that extra weight while staying safe.
Let’s dive in to what’s causing that back pain and ways to fix it.
Ways Rucking can cause back pain
Carrying heavy gear causes the spinal column immense stress. Your body isn’t used to it compared to your day to day activities. For the bones in your spine, the discs in your back act like shock absorbers on a car.
When you get started you’ll read a lot of articles telling you how to ruck.
But one thing you absolutely should not do is start running with weights in your pack.
You won’t lose more calories or gain muscle versus simply walking or hiking.
However, you risk hurting your body. You may be able to get to the point where you can run with a ruck on, but that takes some time and practice.
Training is the only way to learn proper posture for rucking. It’s one of those “you have to do it to know how to do it” kind of things.
For example, leaning forward while you’re rucking means you’re letting your bodyweight propel you forwards. This is a great way to let momentum carry you.
Alternately, if you feel back pain or shoulder burn the workout isn’t using the right muscles.
When you get started, spend some time learning the right way to ruck.
It will take time, but you will notice progress and improvement and you will be lowering your risk of injury.
Take a look at some of our tips for better posture while rucking and see how they can help you shape up.
Start by going on one ruck per week and carrying around 10 to 15 percent of your bodyweight.
Walking one or two miles is a good starting distance. Aim to try to go near or below your usual walking pace.
You may wonder what’s a good rucking pace, but that’s a question you want to answer within the confines of making sure you’re not overdoing things.
Overdoing the weight, your speed, or the distance will quickly burn you out.
How often a week should you ruck?
When you start rucking you should not ruck for more than a few miles once a week.
This gentle rucking routine will allow you to get the benefits of rucking without the risk of injury!
You can go rucking more times a week as your pace, endurance, and fitness improve through training and practice.
Furthermore, you can also add more weight to your rucksack as the benefits of training will have strengthened your joints and knees.
The health benefits of rucking will improve your cardio and burn many calories. Over time, you can increase your hikes and go rucking 2-3 times a week.
Moreover, instead of rucking alone, you should look for rucking events as you will get to ruck with former military special forces and fitness professionals from all over the world.
There, you will improve at rucking by training with others and being able to rely on others for motivation.
Why going on a one mile ruck is causing you back pain
Consider this, you go on a one mile rucking, with only a few pounds in your pack, thinking it’s a good way to start.
You walk slowly and try not to push yourself too hard. Yet somehow you come back with an aching back.
Rucking causes back pain, because the weighted plates in your rucksack put extra pressure on your joints, especially the ones in your spine.
Even if you are in good health and have high upper body strength, a mile ruck can be enough to trigger a serious and recurring pain in your lower back and knees.
Some people continue their rucks for miles even though their back is hurting. You should never try carrying weights or a rucksack while you have back pain. Rucking for even a small distance while suffering back aches can result in injury that may permanently affect your health.
Ways to prevent or reduce back pain
There are a few ways to alleviate the pain that could form from rucking. You can use the bench unloader exercise, stay hydrated, and make sure you use equipment that works for you.
Fortunately, the human body is incredibly malleable and you can prevent further pain during rucking through an exercise for your knees, upper body and back known as the bench unloader.
This exercise will strengthen your muscles and your back. Hence you will be able to carry more weight over longer distances.
Additionally, it will act as an extra arm workout to help you meet your fitness gains!
The good news doesn’t stop there!
By taking steps to improve your rucking equipment, you can dramatically increase the pace and benefits of your rucks.
Remember, while rucking is an incredible workout on its own merit, you can combine it with other workouts that compliment rucking to get an added benefit.
How to perform a bench unloader
When training your rucking ability, it is crucial to relieve the weight off of your spine. After your rucking workout, you should perform a bench unloader.
The bench loader is the best and easiest exercise for training your back. You should repeat this exercise after every ruck or hike.
Furthermore, you may incorporate this fitness training exercise into your regular workout routine.
Before beginning your workout, first take off any backpack or rucksack that you still have on from your ruck and search for a flat surface.
To perform a bench loader, put your hands on a flat surface and lock your elbows. Next, transfer your body weight onto your arms.
At this point you should feel the weight running through the muscle in your arms. As you carry this out, your shoes should only loosely be touching the ground.
After doing this exercise you will feel a weight lifted off your lower back. Moreover, this exercise will improve your fitness and allow you to carry extra pounds of weight during your ruck.
The bench unloader can be a powerful tool in your arsenal to combat back pain. Also consider the squat as it can be incredibly beneficial.
When you’re rucking, your body is losing water through sweat. But you don’t need water just to cool off.
You also need it to properly hydrate those same discs in your back. They fill with water and that’s part of how they act as though shock absorbers.
Remember to hydrate before, during, and after your ruck. It’s incredibly important.
What rucking equipment to get?
To avoid back pain during rucking and to ruck with weight on your back you need to search for the right rucking shoes.
Apart from increasing your running speed and improving your cardio, good shoes will distribute your body weight evenly.
Whether you’re running, out on a walk, or rucking; good shoes will increase your endurance and easily help you walk an extra mile or two.
Some people opt for boots, such as combat boots or others designed for rucking and hiking.
Others use trail shoes, which are sneakers designed with hiking in mind. Still others prefer running shoes or regular sneakers.
See what works best for you.
Similarly, pick a high-quality backpack.
Look for a ruck sack that has stiff but padded shoulder straps.
Divide the weight evenly by ensure the straps on either side are both equal.
Tie them tightly so the backpack isn’t sagging or swinging while you’re walking. You want it tight against your body.
While rucking can cause back pain you don’t have to let that stop you. In fact, with the right training you can avoid putting extra stress on your back.
This requires a combination of strength training exercises to improve your posture, and other measures like buying the right gear, strapping your backpack correctly, and not overextending yourself.
So, be careful and if you’re going to ruck do it right!