Get prepared for your next Hiking adventure
Learn how to minimise injuries while doing what you love: hiking.
Hiking is a fun and enjoyable sport so let’s get you started. Being outdoors gives you a sense of freedom and an escape from your everyday life. Anything that helps you de-stress and rejuvenate is to be applauded. Be aware, though, that you cannot go straight from the home or office environment and hit the trail without any preparations. Therefore, we advise you to read out tips to get prepared for your hiking adventure. In case you’re a first-time hiker, the article about hiking classification Switzerland will certainly help you to decide which trail fits you best.
Get in shape
Every hiker’s pace will vary but the average estimated pace is 1.5 miles per hour. Start walking outdoors to get in shape so you won’t injure yourself on the hike. Muscle strains and cramps are the results of untrained bodies and you don’t want it to be you.
Use Proper Clothing & Footwear
Another important tip is to always wear comfortable clothes that don’t bind or chafe. Wear a hat because it protects you from the sun and ticks. Have a lightweight jacket with you for wind and rain protection. Good hiking boots are essential. Look for boots with a high ankle and solid soles to prevent slipping on uneven terrain.
Know the expected weather conditions and climate of the trail
Dress in layers. Besides bringing extra clothes, a raincoat, and plenty of water, bug repellent, sunglasses, and sunscreen of at least 15 SPF are also ‘a must-have’ items.
“We don’t stop hiking because we grow old –
We grow old because we stop hiking.”
– Finis Mitchel
Hydration is essential
Drink water only from a safe water source. Provide close supervision of children in your care. Make sure to give your itinerary to family and/or friends. Be sure you include any telephone numbers and any other important trail information.
Watch the trail for any hazards
Watch for any natural hazards on the trail. Always consider what is before you before moving forward. Learn CPR and carry a first aid kit in your backpack. Besides bringing a whistle, compass, and waterproof matches, it’s highly important to bring a warm blanket. And, how can we forget on camera? Bring your camera to capture those unforgettable moments. It will indeed help you to stay warm if you hike in cold weather conditions. It should also be noted to plan breaks according to the length of the trip. You certainly don’t want to lose all your energy when you’re in the middle of nowhere.
Put the slowest hiker in front
Set the pace for that person. Do not wander off the trail. Don’t bring anything of value on the trip. Leave them at home. Be smart with your food supply. Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Pack dried, dehydrated and non-perishables for longer hiking trips. Be able to make fire. Follow proper instructions for a fire at a campsite. Always take home what you brought. Do Not Litter!
And then here is the Post-Hiking Pain
Obviously, the pain will come. Calves are burning, knees hurt and legs feel like Jello. Without a doubt, after a major hike, the body is asking for a relief. For day-hikers, backpackers and trail runners, after-care for pain is a very real part of the sport. Injuries and lactic acid build-up can keep a hiker sidelined for days and make the simple act of going downstairs excruciating. Many precautions can be taken to ensure less stress to legs, knees, and feet during a hike, but as every seasoned hiker knows, it’s not going uphill that’s the problem it’s coming down!
Hiking down a steep descent places additional stress on knees and muscles that have not been conditioned for downhill activity. Joints and tendons become painfully inflamed. And pushing past one’s level of ability and distance, increases the production of lactic acid, resulting in a burning feeling in leg muscles. Don’t let pain be a discouraging factor in pursuing higher achievements on the trail. The sense of loftiness felt when reaching the pinnacle of a climb is worth conquering post-hiking pain.
The best tips to minimize pain:
– Get fitted with sturdy, stable boots or trail running shoes.
– Buy shoes/boots that are at a half to one full size larger than your regular shoe size. After several hours of hiking, feet will swell and need room to expand.
– Pre-condition legs weeks before a strenuous hike by doing short hill hikes and strengthening exercises (squats, lunges, step-ups, and step-downs). You can also increase your lactic acid threshold and level of fatigue (thereby lowering the occurrence of sore muscles) by increasing your activity level and training at 85%-90% of your maximum heart rate for at least 20 minutes daily.
– Use stretching exercises especially for problem areas such as hamstring, IT band, etc. to increase flexibility.
– Wearing leg braces will help you stabilize the knees as well as to reduce stress. Neoprene braces can be purchased over the counter at any drug store.
– Hydration is definitely one of the most important parts of every hiking adventure. Stay hydrated, eat carbohydrates and protein during as well as after the hike. This can help minimize lactic acid build-up.
– Hiking pole will help you redistribute weight, so you’ll be able to balance and reduce stress on the knees too.
– Another important tip is to learn the technique of heel-to-toe walking so as to make full contact with the heel to the ground.
– Try to control uphill and downhill progression so as not to bound, go too fast, or “pound” the trail. Slightly bend knees when descending. Make a conscious effort to keep weight centered with the knee tracking directly over the toe (no twisting in or out). An automatic response to descending a hill is to lean backward, rather than stay centered. This can result in injury, such as IT Band Friction Syndrome.
How to deal with pains?
– Ice painful or swollen joints and muscles immediately after a hike. If pain persists, continue at intervals for up to 48 hours. Besides icing will decrease inflammation, it will also reduce swelling and numb pain.
– Rest after the hike, but don’t become immobile. Walking or light exercise will keep blood flowing and increase recovery.
– Gentle stretches will certainly help stiff, tight muscles.
– Massage painful muscles with long and smooth movements.
– If needed, use a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). The medicines such as ibuprofen will definitely help you reduce pain and inflammation.
– Some hikers benefit from alternating ice packs and heat therapy. However, this should only be done after 48 hours and inflammation has subsided. Applying heat immediately after a hike will increase swelling and prolong recovery time.
Important: It should be noted that previously mentioned tips are not intended as a substitute for professional medical treatment or consultation. Therefore, we advise you to always consult with your physician in the case of a serious injury. However, if you are searching for hiking destination, hiking guides and hiking ideas, our team will always be here to help you.
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