Do you live or travel close to the trails? Are you considering hiking or are a seasoned pro? There is no doubt hiking provides so many benefits to the mind, body, and soul so of course it is an excellent and fun way to stay active.
Not only does hiking improve your bone density, cardio-respiratory and muscular fitness, but it also reduces risk to a host of issues including heart disease and high blood pressure. When you are hiking your mood and quality of sleep increases and your sense are awakened improving creativity. So how could this be bad for you? Hiking is a wonderful outdoor activity, but as with most sports there are risks, especially relating to injuries.
In order to start smart or keep going strong it is important to think about injury prevention. Let us start with the most common injuries:
Prevention of blisters has a lot to do with choosing the correct equipment. Choose the correct shoes and socks for your sport. Blisters are created by friction so choose moisture-wicking socks and make sure to break in your new shoes with shorter hikes at first. Also, consider packing moleskin in your pack so once you feel the familiar sting of a blister coming on, you can take a break and treat the area right away. For the inevitable cuts and scrapes, be sure to have a first aid kit stocked with bandages, antibiotic ointment, and other essential treatment items.
Prevention of joint soreness starts with preparation. Hikers need to condition their muscles for the uphill and downhill climbs. Stretching before and after every hike is a must! Keep the hardest working muscles in the best condition to be able to finish strong. Also be sure to slowly build mileage and length of time on the trail. It is important to go slow on the trail as a fall at fast speed can be much more detrimental than once at a steady walk.
Prevention of joint soreness also has a lot to do with choosing the correct equipment. Knees and hips are especially vulnerable joints causing overuse injuries especially when attempting steep inclines and declines. After choosing the correct shoes, choosing hiking poles and knees straps can definitely help, but also consider starting at the bottom with appropriate sports orthotics for your hiking boots. The patented technology of the StrideTek Crosstrainer orthotic insole is made to help you avoid pronation which causes numerous joint and muscle issues.
Prevention of dehydration is equally if not more important. Drink water in the days leading up to a hike and bring at least 2 to 4 quarts of water each day of your hike. Sports drinks and salty snacks are also helpful in replenishing lost electrolytes. Avoid direct sunlight and hiking during the hottest part of the day and take frequent breaks in the shade.
John Muir had it right when he said “In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks”. Use these tips to stay safe on the trails to enjoy each and every step. Find your stride!