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  1. #1
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    Side Sleeping/Back Injuries

    Hi all,

    I’ve been lurking for nearly a year now and am finally posting. I got an HH Exp. UL for Christmas and have since purchased an SPE, a setup that I’m happy with for three seasons up here in Maine. I recently did a stretch from Kinsman Notch to Crawford Notch along the AT and am VERY impressed with my new arrangements!

    Anyway, my questions concern an older friend (late 50’s) who used to enjoy camping/backpacking, but has since had some severe back problems. He cannot sit down in a chair and instead uses one of those kneeling seats to avoid any pressure on the base of the spine. He is also a side sleeper.

    After doing a lot of hammocking research, I would think that a hammock is an intriguing possibility to at least allow him to consider some car-camping. In this scenario, weight is not an issue and the hammock would probably be purchased instead of made.

    My questions are:

    • What is generally regarded as the best hammock for side sleeping, and is your body parallel to the ground, or is it curved?
    • I’m not sure if it would be an issue, but do any of these hammocks allow for entry WITHOUT putting pressure on the base of the spine (with my HH, I back in and sit, but I imagine I could enter a different way)?
    • Although I wouldn’t particularly enjoy hitting the ground, I would imagine that a fall could have devastating results. Is there a suspension system that is generally regarded as more dependable? Would anyone flat out not recommend a hammock because the possibility of a fall?
    • Do side sleepers generally prefer under insulation to a pad? I would think that any camping he would do would probably run May-October at the latest.

    I know this is a lot to ask of strangers, so any input you folks have would be great!

    P.S. Although I defer to the wisdom of the senior members, I was in L.L. Bean in Freeport last weekend when a curious gentlemen overheard me discussing my hammock adventures in the Whites. He asked me a few questions, and I surprised myself with the hammocking science (including a HF plug) I was dropping on this poor, unsuspecting fool!

    Jim

    Edit- Apparently I have posted before!
    Last edited by Jim Bowie; 06-28-2007 at 09:34. Reason: Correction

  2. #2
    Senior Member headchange4u's Avatar
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    Welcome to the forum Jim Bowie.

    There are a few members here who have suffered from back injuries, thus making the switch to hammocks. They should be able to answer some of you questions in more detail.
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  3. #3
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    Welcome. I am one of those back injury people here. I have surgrey on a ruptored disc a few years ago. Sleeping on the ground kills me, I am fine in my hammock.

    In terms of side sleeping I would check out either the hh like you have or the new JRB one when it comes out. The issue I have on my side is if I get any torch on my waist. The JRB is the flatest hammock that I have been in. Second to the hh. The warbonnet ones feel good, but I will defer that one to someone who has more experience with it.

    I would plan to have a pillow underneath his head and inbetween his legs. That works the best for me.

    If terms of pads, if he is using a hh I would go with an UQ if a top loader than a pad. I think the pad helps you get a little flater. I have been playing around with a pad in my top loader speer. I add my sit pad underneath my butt. The extra 1/2 inch makes a huge difference and makes everything feel a lot flater. I think missing with a pad in a hh would be problematic in a hh for him.

    I have hit the ground a few times too. I would hang really close to the ground just in case. If he is bad enough that he cannot sit in a chair, you might want to hold off a little. I don't want to talk anyone out of it, but if it was me I would wait until I could sit comfortably before I started back.

    Hopefully Dino will chime in on this, but he might also have problems getting in and out of it. She also has some issues that she has to work around.
    Is that too much to ask? Girls with frikkin' lasers on their heads?
    The hanger formly known as "hammock engineer".

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by hammock engineer View Post
    I have hit the ground a few times too. I would hang really close to the ground just in case. If he is bad enough that he cannot sit in a chair, you might want to hold off a little.
    Thanks HE; he's actually at a point where, after several unsuccessful surgeries, it's probably never going to improve, so it's more a quality of life issue. Obviously, a hammock may allow him to get back some of the things he can no longer do, but at what risk?

  5. #5
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    I think if you have successfully hung and used his hammock a few times, then it will be fine. Every time I hit was either inexperience, or when I was trying out something that I knew might not work.
    Is that too much to ask? Girls with frikkin' lasers on their heads?
    The hanger formly known as "hammock engineer".

  6. #6
    Peter_pan's Avatar
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    Welcome to the Hanging Gang.... if your friend's back issues are in any way torque sensitive, I'd monitor the developments of the cat cut hammock... the only true layflat, no trunk torque approach.... While this plays out, have hin test some HH and Speer or ENO top loaders.

    Pan
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    www.jacksrbetter.com ... Largest supplier of camping quilts and under quilts...Home of the Original Nest Under Quilt, and Bear Mountain Bridge Hammock. 800 595 0413

  7. #7
    Senior Member TeeDee's Avatar
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    You could also make a DIY Bridge Hammock. The thread on that is here.

    Not too difficult to make and as Pan said super flat and very comfortable.

  8. #8
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    [QUOTE=Jim Bowie;20874].My questions are:

    • What is generally regarded as the best hammock for side sleeping, and is your body parallel to the ground, or is it curved?

    ###reply... that's a good question, but i'm most familiar w/ the top entry type. what seems to make it better for side sleeping for me is to either use a narrow hammock w/ air mat, hung tight (w/ little sag), or a wide hammock hung loose (lots of sag for diagonal lay).
    with those ways of hanging, you can lay pretty close to flat.
    the pillows that HE mentioned are really a good idea too.

    • I’m not sure if it would be an issue, but do any of these hammocks allow for entry WITHOUT putting pressure on the base of the spine (with my HH, I back in and sit, but I imagine I could enter a different way)?

    ###reply... hard to say what would work for your friend. like others said, you may want to get him to carefully try out a couple.
    i wouldn't try getting in on my knees though if that's something you had in mind. knees & elbows w/ body weight put a lot of force in a small area & that's best avoided if possible.


    • Although I wouldn’t particularly enjoy hitting the ground, I would imagine that a fall could have devastating results. Is there a suspension system that is generally regarded as more dependable? Would anyone flat out not recommend a hammock because the possibility of a fall?

    ###reply... you're right that a sudden fall from a broken support can cause an injury. most of the time it doesn't, but i chipped a bone in an elbow on my hard wood floor that way. i had a pad directly under me but it wasn't as wide as where my elbow struck
    backpackers often push the envelope on hammocks & supports, but for just a few extra ozs & choosing the right materials for hammock & supports, your friend could have a hammock that would hold a volkswagen
    you'll see more on those materials in following posts here as well as other threads that members direct you to.


    • Do side sleepers generally prefer under insulation to a pad? I would think that any camping he would do would probably run May-October at the latest.
    jim

    ###it seems that you can do fine w/ either as i described above, but if i choose the greatest comfort (for me any way) i will go w/ an insulated air mat (big agness or exped) that is only about half inflated.
    it conforms to my body how ever i'm laying. if you get into lower temps, an under quilt may be needed also w/ the partly inflated mat because of the thin spots. ...tim
    don`t leave the CREATOR out of the creation!

  9. #9
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    Although I've never suffered a back injury, I'm a dedicated side sleeper for the most part. I don't sleep comfortably on my back or front sides at all. I use an ENO DoubleNest and sleep just fine in it. As a matter of fact, I sleep better in it than I do in my own bed. I use the DoubleNest now because it's wider than the SingleNest and I can lay totally flat in it when I'm in it asym-style. The ENO hammocks are a little heavier, I think, but if your friend is going to do mostly car camping, then that shouldn't be a hnuge issue, if one at all. Best of luck to you both!
    "If you play a Nicleback song backwards, you'll hear messages from the devil. Even worse, if you play it forward, you'll hear Nickleback." - Dave Grohl

  10. #10
    Senior Member Frolicking Dino's Avatar
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    I have a lot of company so this will be brief: I have found two hammocks that work better than most for being flat - the Warbonnet and the soon-to-be-released JRB. I had trouble with positioning my hip and leg in the HH because it seemed too small to get diagonal enough to really lay flat on my side. I love the Speer hammocks, but they likely aren't going to be the best for your friend because of the twisting involved to get on your side.

    The Warbonnet's unique shaping allows you to get quite flat, but I was unable to turn over to my other side while in one (important for me and possibly for your friend)

    If your friend wants to try a top-loader, the double ENO is likely the best for laying nearly flat. The extra fabric allows you to get diagonal in the hammock. However, your friend may find getting to the diagonal position while lying down impossible. I wasn't able to do so soon after my accident, but can now.

    The JRB feels much like laying in a cot -- it is very flat and vey stable. I believe most people who really need serious back support would be comfortable in the JRB. I was able to turn over easily, but some of the fellows said their shoulders were pinched. I know the Jacks are tweaking the design a bit to reduce the squeeze. Another important point about the JRB -- the webbing used to suspend it can be used to help get in and out. Your friend may also find this very helpful. I would recommend this hammock above all the others for someone who needed to keep pressure off the base of the spine because of all the points you can use to help yourself get in out. The webbing on this hammock is extremely sturdy.

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