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Degenerative Disc Disease

Disease or is it your body adapting to environmental stressors?

Is degenerative disc disease a disease?

No, it’s not, but, it is a term used to describe the abnormal changes in your spinal discs as you age. Spinal discs are like 50 layers of kevlar (the outer edges) stacked on top of each other, they separate the interlocking bones (vertebrae) that make up the spine. The discs are like shock absorbers for the spine, also allowing it to flex, bend, and twist. Degenerative discs can take place anywhere in the spine, but it most often occurs in the neck and lower back.

Once these discs start to degenerate, neck and/or back pain can happen.

What causes degenerative disc disease?

A simple Google search, and you’ll find stuff like this.

As we age, our spinal discs break down or degenerate, which may result in degenerative disc disease in some people. These age-related changes include:

The loss of fluid in your discs. This reduces the ability of the discs to act as shock absorbers and makes them less flexible. Loss of fluid also makes the disc thinner and narrows the distance between the vertebrae.
Tiny tears or cracks in the outer layer (annulus or capsule) of the disc. The jellylike material inside the disc (nucleus) may be forced out through the tears or cracks in the capsule, which causes the disc to bulge, break open (rupture), or break into fragments.
These changes are more likely to occur in people who smoke cigarettes and those who do heavy physical work (such as repeated heavy lifting). People who are obese are also more likely to have symptoms of degenerative disc disease.

The above is correct except the first part. It’s not age-related. There’s no proof of this. I can show you an x-ray of a 90-year old that has a better spine than a 30-year-old. Or an even better example would be to look at your own x-ray and ask yourself why some disc’s look fine and some don’t. They’re all the same age.

So what really causes the discs to degenerate?

Any injury can begin the degeneration process. The biggest thing would be uneven pressure from posture and lack of movement. Discs get their nutrients through movement. Uneven pressure or lack of movement will limit the nutrients the disc receives. If that happens, it will start to degenerate.

Let’s look at the neck for a second.

As the space between the vertebrae gets smaller, there is less padding between them, and the spine becomes less stable. Is the body smart or stupid? In an effort to prevent the nerves from compressing the cervical spine will start to straighten, or whats called a reverse curve. This opens up the holes where the nerves come out. This will also happen if you stare at your phone all day. lol. (Bad posture).

The body reacts to this by increasing surface area and/or constructing bony growths called bone spurs (osteophytes). Bone spurs can put pressure on the spinal nerve roots or spinal cord, resulting in pain and affecting nerve function giving you a whole bunch of symptoms.

The same applies to the lower back. The cervical and lumbar are the most common to be affected since they act as the shock absorber for the body.

Discs get their nutrients from movement. Uneven pressure or lack of movement will limit the nutrients the disc receives. If that happens, it will start to degenerate.

How to prevent this and/or correct degenerative disc disease?

Being mindful of your posture would be a good start.

Staying hydrated helps in more way than one.

Remember when I said discs get their nutrients from movement? What kind of nutrients are you supplying your body with??????

Seeing a chiropractor that adjusts the spine will ensure you stay aligned and can restore movement in the joints. When an adjustment occurs it creates a negative pressure that will allow the disc to “suck in” water and nutrients.

Low-level light laser therapy will also help in restoring and rebuilding the disc by stimulating the mitochondria to accelerate ATP production that will create a chain-reaction to heal.

Taking medication will help with any pain associated with nerve compression but it’s only masking a symptom and not addressing the cause. Medications will also deteriorate the spine and discs causing further damage.

Of course, to end, I have to state that I’m not a doctor and this is my opinion and does not reflect the opinion of others. For any pain related to your spine, please contact a specialist for the specific cause.

 

The Fundy Footpath

Beach

WOW! Is what comes to mind about this hike. Recently a group of us, 6 to be exact, hiked the Fundy Footpath. This hike was organized by the Cornwall Outdoor Club. If you have never heard of this great club, be sure to check them out and join. It’s a multi sport club that does everything. If you only like hiking or kayaking or just cycling that’s ok, there’s something for everyone.

The Planning.

1st thing to do is plan! I purchased the map and the book right from the Interpretive Centre. With this guide, you will get a pretty good idea of what to expect. The tide chart, map of the camps and water sources etc. Keep in mind this is only a guide as we found the km’s on the map to be a little off. ( Note: The distance markers on the map use horizontal distance to allow you to refer to the elevation profile graph on the other side of the map.)

What was easy about the planing was the Cornwall Outdoor Club has experienced hikers that took care of everything. What was also great was that they made sure to include everyone so that is was a group decision. This is very important while hiking in a group. Another tool I’ve come to love is Milestepper. Milestepper is a free online tool for planning everything and anything. It also has a gear list to keep track of all your gear and a pantry. Donations are accepted and I highly encourage it.

The Fundy Footpath is advertised as a 3-4 day minimum hike of 41 km, not including the 8 km you have to hike in to the start of the Footpath. One of 50 greatest hikes and top 5 hardest in Canada. We decided to take a few extra days to enjoy our holidays and take our time hiking. As a group you are only as fast as the slowest hiker. I’m not going to get too much into the trail as I encourage you to buy the guide, just going to write about the path I took as the hiker.

My Gear.

The choice of your gear is very importantbackpacking gear not only for comfort but for survival. I don’t consider myself an ultralight hiker and to be honest I think the ultralight movement is foolish. You have to be prepared for the worst and pack accordingly. Leaving gear at home that you may need is not a good idea. Now I’m not talking about the luxury items, I’m talking about the essentials. What if you have to spend the night? If it’s a well-traveled day hike this may not be the case, but in the back country you may get turned around or hurt. Either way there are many opinions and this is just mine. Below is the gear I used for the Fundy Footpath. Budget and quality are always considered when I’m buying gear.

1. Bag

For myself this was a no brainer. Osprey!! These are by far the best bags out there. I own the Stratos 34 as my day hike bag and never considered any other bag when shopping for a larger multi-day hike. My choice was the Aether 85. This bag is fully customizable for a perfect fit. I purchased the large from Live Out There, but will be swapping out the hip belt for a medium belt for an even better fit. On the trail, no Issues. 55 lbs and felt great.

2. Footwear

My choice was the Salomon X Ultra Mid 2 GTX Hiking Boot. I’ve had these boots for over a year now with lots of mileage. I purchased them from Atmosphere. I have wide feet so my options are limited and the staff said these would be perfect for me. Your feet are very important on the trail. A simple blister can ruin everything. It’s a must to stop and take care of a hot spot right away! On the trail: no issues. Not even a hot spot.

3. Clothing

I pretty much stay in the same clothes all week. I washed them once in the water mid-week. I did have a spare set of what’s listed below in case, but put them on the last day after showering in a stream. Wanted to walk out feeling fresh lol. Limited Edition T-Shirt was from Milestepper. Stayed cool, dried fast and didn’t smell. Pants were from SportCheck. Columbia Silver Ridge II Convertible Men’s Pants. Really impressed with these, very comfortable and dried fast. Bought 2 pairs. Socks. I’m not at the stage of spending $30-$40 for socks at a hiking store. I think that’s nuts, I did however find some 100% Merino wool socks at Crappy Tire called, Kodiak Men’s Timberline Wool Hiking Socks, Black, 2-pk. Theses socks are awesome, I bought 6 pairs. On the trail, stayed dry, no issues.

4. Trekking Poles

Picked up the McKINLEY Ascent Trekking Poles on sale at Atmosphere. I don’t like hiking with poles because you shouldn’t rely on them for balance just in case you become dependent on them. But with the condition of the Fundy Foot Path and the weight of my pack I needed them. They worked great, had to adjust them about 3 times during the week but overall very happy with them. On the trail, no issues.

5. Sleep System

After much research, I decided to go with the MSR Hubba Hubba NX Tent. I purchased the tent used. I also purchased the foot print from Live Out There. Nice and light. For my sleeping bag, I went with Teton Leef +20. Great bag. Compressed nice and fit in the bottom of my Aether bag. I’m a hot sleeper and slept in my boxers. Looking forward to using it in the fall. Sleeping pad I used the Klymit Inertia O Zone. Very happy with this purchase. Packs up small and light, very comfortable. On the trail, no issues.

6. Cooking System

I purchased the GSI Pinnacle Dualist Cook set. I removed a bowel and cup since I was single, but liked that it was a bit bigger. The spoons seem really cheap so I brought both of them in case one broke. They both proved me wrong as they lasted the week. For the stove I used the MSR MicroRocket Stove. Boiled quick, a few times I had to cover the wind. Nice and small. Used the MSR gas. On the trail, no issues.

7. Water Filtration

I used the Katadyn Hiker Pro Microfilter. This little thing is awesome. Lots of research before I purchased it. I seen a video on YouTube and the guy filters his own pee and drinks it. LMAO gross but anyway, I never felt sick from the water or had explosive dirreria. On the trail, no issues.

8. Stuff Sacks

For my dry sack I used SealLine. Very happy with these bags, they did what they advertised. Compression sacks I used Sea to Summit and Outdoor Research . Hard to say what I like more. Sea to Summit seem to be wider when Outdoor Research are more of a tube shape. On the trail, My 10l Outdoor Research bag ripped a bit. (warranty I hope)

Other Gear

As for my other gear like lights, camera, action etc. I won’t go into detail. For a partial list check out my gear on Milestepper.

The Hike

Not really going to give a play by-play as I encourage you to get the guide but the trail is pretty hard but rewarding. We had a taxi (Diamond Taxi) pick us up at the Interpretive Centre where we left the vehicles and got dropped off at the start in Pointe Wolfe, Alma, NB. At first you have to hike in 8km before you even start at the trail head.

Our 1st day we hiked into Goose River campsite. We didn’t stay at the beach site since we were told it was booked. (we went to explore and realised they didn’t show up) Our camp site were nice but small. We had to hang our food at this site. What was nice was they supplied wood and there was an outhouse 🙂Fundy Footpath

Our 2nd day we hiked to Rose Brook campsite. Nice spot on the beach, I had a hard time sleeping from the waves crashing on the beach. The sad part was all the garbage other hikers have left. There was a thunder box and a bear box. 🙂 The view was amazing.Fundy Footpath

 

Fundy Footpath 

Our 3rd day we stopped by Goose Creek campsite for a break and discuss how far we wanted to go. This campsite had a thunder box and a bear box. It was a pretty nice spot. We saw a snake sun tanning on the path to the water source. We than went to Brandy Brook but this site wasn’t big enough for all of us. Lots of roots. The campsite was also in further by Tweedle Dee  falls .

Fundy Footpath 

Fundy Footpath 

Fundy Footpath 
View at the top from Goose 
 
We decided to stay at Quiddy River campsite. This was quite the trek as we had to catch up on some mileage. This site had no thunder box and we had to hang our food. I really liked this spot as it was deep in the woods and not along the coast. It was a nice spot to shower. The bugs were a little bad here compared to the other spots along the coast.

Fundy Footpath Fundy Footpath

Our 4th day was another early morning so we can cover lots of mileage, it was better to hike early since it wasn’t as hot, and we also liked setting up camp and relaxing. I hate setting up in the dark.

We hiked to Telegraph Brook were there was another nice little water fall. What I liked the most was this amazing place! LOL Yes a Thunderbox. For what ever reason my body didn’t want to go till I seen these.

Fundy Footpath 

Nice spot to take a break. Great beach view, I dried off a few things in the sun and on the hot rocks. The hike up from leaving here is pretty tough.

Fundy Footpath 

We ended up stopping again at Wolf Brook to grab another bite to eat, rest our feet and decide if we were going to stay the night or keep on trekking. I found a bunch of old bricks with numbers on them. Didn’t see a thunder box or bear box at this site. There is a nice little water fall that we used to chug the rest of our water and fill up before we headed out to spend the night at Little Salmon River site.

Fundy Footpath 

Coming down the switchbacks to Little Salmon campsite was nuts. It was a very small goat trail. lol I have a feeling there may be stairs here in the future. Lots of erosion so take your time and watch your step.

Our 5th day. The picture below was from the night before. There was fog coming in and was picture worthy. During the middle of the night a moose came through. Kind of scary. From Little Salmon we then headed to Seely Beach campsite.

Fundy Footpath 
Little Salmon River site

Seely Beach is very nice. I guess you can stay on the beach but it was way to windy. There’s a nice spot just in the tree line and around the corner from the beach. At that one the wind was blowing right through so there wasn’t much cover. At this site there was a thunder box and bear box. (which is right in the camp site)

Fundy Footpath 
Seely Beach campsite

The water source it a little ways down the beach. Below is a picture of the tide coming back in.

Fundy Footpath 
Seely Beach tide

Our 6th day. After leaving Seely Beach we decide to stay at Long Beach. We were able to cover a lot of distance over the flat ground, before passing the Dragon’s Tooth, I gave it a big huge to re-energize my self. Rocks give of quite a lot of energy. We ended up passing some blasting signs and traveled below a new road. Some parts of this hike was very hard. There was stairs but still needed breaks to get the lactic acid out of my legs. The book says you walk along an old moose path. Well this moose path led of to a grave site of a moose. lol

Walking to Long Beach was horrible! They’re redoing it to be more for tourists. I guess this may be good for growth, but for hikes you feel kind of strange walking out of a bush with a crowd of tourist looking at you. The campsite at Long Beach no longer exits. We had to continue. At this point we could have walked out but decided to spend another night at Big Salmon campsite. Finished up our meals and enjoyed our last night talking about how much we enjoyed the Fundy Footpath.

During the night we had a visitor, someone didn’t finish their meal and threw it in the fire. It didn’t burn completely so the smell of food attracted an animal. This showed the importance of camp safety. We were lucky it was only a racoon If it were a bear, things might have been different. Very important to make sure you keep the camp clean. Sometimes things get overlooked.

In the AM it was a quick walk out as we only had 3.5 km to go. F.Y.I. I don’t think anyone uses these campsite anymore. Signs are still up for a thunder box but there was non and we had to hang our food. The campsites are all overgrown.

One thing I wanted to mention was I seen a tombstone before Long Beach, anyone know anything about it? If you do, please comment below.Fundy Footpath

I hope you enjoyed this and if you did please feel free to share. 🙂 Any questions or comments, even hiking tips that I could use, leave in the comment section below.