Hiking can be a very rewarding activity for people of all ages. It’s a great way to get people out of the house and into nature, and gives us the opportunity to get in some vigorous exercise, while still allowing us to go at our own pace. Hiking is a very effective form of aerobic exercise that yields a lot of benefits for our physical health, and mental health as well. But like all forms of physical exercise, hiking is not without its risks, and there are certain injuries you become more susceptible to if you take it up.
Get The Right Footwear
When traversing uneven terrain riddled with hidden rocks, sticks, and slippery areas, it is very easy to trip up or slip suddenly. This makes it very easy for a person to suffer an ankle sprain, which can not only be painful and disruptive for a few days, but also makes it a lot harder to get off the mountain. Before you set off, make sure you have a tough pair of high-topped hiking boots that fit well and offer good grip. This will make you a lot less likely to slip, and less likely to twist your ankle if you do.
When purchasing hiking boots, do so late in the day. That way, your feet will already be swollen, and won’t feel too tight by the time your hike gets going.
Blisters on your feet are not the most concerning of medical conditions, but they can be very uncomfortable, and can prevent you from engaging in any physical activity for a while. Choosing the correct hiking shoes can help you avoid blisters, but you should also get the right socks. Blisters form as a result of friction on the skin, so you don’t want socks that move around or bunch up. Hiking socks are tight fitting, cushioned, and wick away moisture, but if you don’t have any, you can always put on two pairs of cotton or wool socks instead.
If you are using hiking poles, you should also be conscious of getting blisters on your hands. Use the loops provided, and don’t grip the poles for dear life the entire way. You should only grasp them intensely when you are actually using them for support or leverage.
Prepare For Chafing
Chafing is usually caused by repetitive friction of the skin between two body parts, so is quite common between the thighs or under the arms, although many people also chafe around the nipples. It is one of the most overlooked issues when people take up a new activity, even though it is also one of the most preventable. To avoid it, wear synthetic active underwear that will wick moisture away from the problem area. If this doesn’t stop nipple chafing, then apply vaseline to the nipples before you set off.
Cramping can quickly make what was supposed to be an enjoyable experience into a painful one. Dehydration is one of the driving forces behind muscle cramps, so ensuring you bring and drink lots of water or a sports drink is essential. If you suffer cramps regularly, stretching before you go can help avoid them setting in. If you do feel a cramp coming on, stretching the area right then and then can also prevent it from fully taking hold.
Beware Of Plantar Fasciitis
Plantar fasciitis is the inflammation of the ligament that connects our heels to our toes. It is one of the most common overuse injuries in the world, caused by microtears in the ligament as a result of the repetitive expansion and contraction of the area. To avoid Plantar fasciitis, you need to ensure that your footwear is providing enough arch support, and consider doing some stretches too.
Remember The Sun
If you’re hiking in Ireland, then the sun may not be your biggest concern. But even if the sun does not feel hot enough to scorch the earth, spending hours at a time in the sunlight can still be very damaging. The best way to avoid sunburn is to pack sun cream in your regular hiking bag. It won’t take up much space or add much weight, but it will be there when you inevitably forget, or when the weather takes an unexpected turn for the better.
Hiking is a great way to keep fit, see nature, and stay socially active, so it would be a shame to rule it out because of an injury that could have been easily prevented. Hiking may not be the most dangerous of sports, but it still has its risks, and even a small injury can take hiking off the table for a while. These tips should protect you against the main risks, but we’d love to hear you add to the conversation in the comments below.