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Back problems and white water rafting

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Fort Lauderdale
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Back problems and white water rafting

My family this summer wants to do a 1/2 day white water rafting when we are in the Glenwood Springs area. We have never done one. My concern is I have back pain problems from herniated discs. When you get to the fun parts of rafting where you are in turbulent water do you feel the pounding on the bottom of the raft? I am asking this question for those who have actually done these trips and not from the actual companies who might have a bias in their response.

Pagosa Springs...
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for Durango, Pagosa Springs
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1. Re: Back problems and white water rafting

I have rafted plenty, however never with a back problem. My guess is that it is highly possible you would experience back pain during a rafting trip. I slipped down a sleep slope last summer, hit a rock, damaged my sciatica and struggled to do normal activities (like hike uphill, kick soccer ball, etc). I suddenly became more appreciative of back problems!!

My husband is a massage therapist - his thought to your question is that your body will be tense during a rafting trip, which puts muscles in a protective state and will impact the body's reaction, especially if you have a previous condition.

I would say, let the family take the trip, perhaps you can find a location and take pictures of them rafting through...

Frisco, Colorado
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for Frisco
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2. Re: Back problems and white water rafting

There is pounding and if you were to fall out you could also bump a rock or feel pain being yanked back in the boat. Consider a float trip! Lovely views, fun to be on the water, and no rough water.

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3. Re: Back problems and white water rafting

The actual companies you are considering should be the very place to ask for information about which of their trips would be suitable for a person with back problems. You must notify them of your condition and sign a release of liability, an they'll probably want your doctor's okay. A whitewater trip is not the place for someone with back problems, but as 1FourFun says, a float trip might be okay.

The following are some random quotes from various rafting sites:

"We do NOT recommend whitewater rafting if you have any of the following conditions: heart or lung conditions, severe asthma, back problems, recent surgery, obesity or osteoporosis. Pregnant women are NOT allowed on any of our trips under any circumstance."

"If you are pregnant, extremely overweight, or have back or heart problems, we do not suggest a raft trip."

"White-water rafting can be an exciting experience and sometimes jarring. It is noted that individuals with heart conditions and back problems should consult a doctor before booking a white-water rafting trip."

Edited: 10 March 2012, 14:51
Central Illinois
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4. Re: Back problems and white water rafting

I have rafted the Arkansas River over 20 times: Brown's Canyon, Bighorn Sheep, and Royal Gorge....done paddle and oar trips. I would not recommend rafting if you have herniated discs. No matter if the water level is high (bigger rapids) or low (more rocks) you WILL get jolted around. Plus, if an emergency situation were to occur you would be needed to assist....pulling, lifting or maybe floating the rapid without your raft. IMO, I would not take that chance.

Destination Expert
for Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman, Crested Butte, Gunnison
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5. Re: Back problems and white water rafting

truly, I have a herniated disk as well. Although I am an avid "big mountain" backcountry skier and mountain biking enthusiast, I regularly pass on rafting trips with my friends in the summer. When seated, your spine is in a position that dramatically increases the risk of an injury; either from being bounced up and down or straining to hold on and paddle. My friends have urged me to try using a duckie (an inflatable kayak) but in general I stay away from the river crowd in the summer. For comparision, just think about how your back feels after a 4-5 hour car ride because that's about the best possible outcome in terms of back pain after spending half a day sitting on a raft.

6. Re: Back problems and white water rafting

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