Whether you are an experienced trekker or enjoy the occasional walk into the wilderness, you know how hiking can be an amazing experience. The fresh air, views from the summit, and exercise are all reasons to love hiking, but what about injuries? With thousands of hikers getting injured every year, it helps to know what can take you off the trail. Learning about preventing hiking injuries can have you staying safe instead of off the beaten path.
Common Hiking Injuries
Research shows that the most common hiking injuries are blisters, sprains (primarily of the ankle), skin irritation from sunburn and bug bites; ew, and don’t forget—diarrhea, usually from contaminated water. After being aware of the common threats you face on the trails, here is how to prevent hiking injuries.
Blisters are one of the most common injuries that hikers face. Moisture from sweat, water, and other wet conditions combined with friction cause blisters to form on the feet. Prevent blisters from happening by getting good-fitting boots, wear a thin liner under your hiking socks, and take care of any hot spots right away. You can cover any spot where you feel pressure or tenderness with a padded blister bandage, Moleskin or tape. It is better to avoid draining a blister and care for it like a wound if it bursts.
Twisted or sprained ankles are constantly responsible for ruining a hike, as so many hazards like rocks, uneven terrain, and slippery surfaces pose a risk for this injury. Some best practices to prevent sprained ankles are wearing footwear with ankle protection or using a hiking stick. If you encounter a sprained ankle, use the R.I.C.E. method for treatment on your trek.
Depending on where you hike, you might not consider sunburn a worry—but you are always susceptible to UV skin damage no matter where you are! To prevent sunburn, make sure to wear your sunscreen, wear longer-sleeve clothing when you can, and consider hiking when the UV index is lower.
Everyone hates bug bites. Most are harmless, but some bug bites can come with dangerous diseases like Zika virus and malaria. To prevent bug bites from terrorizing you, use these strategies as recommended by dermatologists.
Use insect repellent that contains 20 to 30 percent DEET.
- Cover exposed skin when hiking in densely-wooded areas or when hiking at night.
- Use bed nets if you are sleeping outdoors.
It is common for hikers on backpacking trips to experience diarrhea from contaminated water or other bacteria exposure. To prevent this unpleasant consequence, wash your hands, as well as cookware and utensils thoroughly with soap and water. And of course, make sure you boil water or use a proper disinfecting system.
Extra Tips To Prevent Hiking Injuries
- Check Weather Patterns: Every hiker should make it a habit to check the weather before adventuring out on their journey. Knowing the weather before you go will help you avoid slippery conditions and the danger of lightning.
- Take A Rest: It is a good practice to take some time to rest after every mile or so to avoid becoming tired. A body that needs a break is more susceptible to missteps and getting hurt. Taking a break is an easy way to prevent hiking injuries.
- Research Terrain: Knowing the ins and outs of the terrain where you hike will make you aware of obstacles like cliffs or other potential hazards that could cause injury.
- Be Aware Of Animals: Wild animals are a risk that comes with hiking in the wilderness, making it important to pay attention to your surroundings. Keeping your distance from animals you might encounter will help prevent any injury.
Kintsugi Physical Therapy & Wellness Is Dedicated To Keeping You Safe On The Trails
Whether you have suffered an injury on your hike or are struggling with pain keeping you from getting out on the trails, Kintsugi Physical Therapy & Wellness is ready to help. We provide an effective, holistic approach to health and wellness that can help you recover from what is holding you back.