This is a sponsored post. All opinions on hiking for health without injuries are 100% my own.
Ever since I was very young, I’ve always enjoyed getting out and exploring the magnificent world around us. Having grown up in the Appalachians, storming the hills became as natural to me as some others might find cruising the malls (although I have done my share of shopping, just to be sure.)
But as I get older, I find that avoiding injuries while on the trails becomes more of a conscious effort. Here are some tips that I’ve learned along the way, some of which I’ve had to learn the hard way.
Hiking for Health Without Injuries
Avoid the Blisters
Getting blisters while hiking is going to happen at some point, it’s almost a rite of passage for the activity. But you can avoid most of it by being proactive with your approach.
First thing you’ll want to be certain of is that you have good fitting footwear. Shoes or boots that are too loose will actually create a lot of movement that rubs the skin with every step, creating a blister before you’ve gone very far at all. Even a perfectly fitting shoe that is not properly tied or adjusted will cause problems, so take your time and lace up right before hitting the trails.
While footwear is an obvious item to get right, don’t forget the socks. A good pair of hiking socks is an investment in your feet, so look for some that will offer padding to insulate your skin from rubbing. And while it can be overlooked, one of the more important functions of socks is in keeping your feet dry since moisture will accelerate the blistering process. You may find that you have a favorite pair or brand of socks for your hiking adventures, and this loyalty is well earned.
But blisters may still happen, so be prepared to deal with them on your adventure. Usually, the first sign of a blister coming on is a “hot spot”. If you carry moleskin with you, you can quickly apply it to the affected area. This provides a layer of insulation from the mechanics of rubbing, and in most cases, it will prevent a blister.
Plant Your Feet Carefully
With every step, you take a chance that your foot could lose its traction and slip. This can lead to a nasty twisted ankle or even worse. There is nothing more bothersome than being forced to “walk off” a mildly twisted ankle while on a hike. More serious injuries can lead to you being stranded, suffering from a hiking-related sports injury (and possibly needing treatment from professionals such as Gregg Schellack Orthopedist.)
To avoid injury, try to be aware of the surface you are walking on. A flat and stable footpath may not need as much scrutiny as a pebbled ravine, but a sudden rock in the trail can create an uneven surface, perfect for twisting the ankle. Be sure to at least occasionally look where you are walking, and practice feeling the surface with your feet as you walk.
You may find that a good walking stick can help you avoid injury. This will act as a third contact point with the ground and could support you if a foot does lose its grip. Such support will let you avoid putting your weight on an ankle that is suddenly in an awkward orientation to the ground.
Know Your Limits
Finally, be sure to keep in mind your present mental and physical state. Keep the right mental attitude about the hike. One of the best ways to get an injury on the trail is to have a “hurry up” attitude. Nature is all around you in all its glory, and it’s an adventure to be appreciated. Trying to rush through a hike usually means that you are not staying fully aware of your surroundings. And that is when people get hurt.
Even worse, exhaustion can lead to serious injury thanks to weak muscles and loss of proper coordination. When fatigue creeps in, take a moment to rest and recuperate. In fact, taking a break from the trail provides a great opportunity to sit quietly and take in your surroundings. Experiencing the world around you is one of the main reasons that you came on the hike in the first place, so don’t miss it by not taking proper breaks along the way.
With a little effort, your next hike can be a fun experience without undue injury. Just be sure to properly prepare, and stay aware of your surroundings. While you are out exploring, you just might discover something about yourself along the way. You definitely don’t want an unneeded injury to spoil that epiphany. Happy Trails!
When he is not writing on his wife’s blog or has his head buried in software code, Greg Chaffins can be found celebrating nerdy things on his own website, NerdBeach.