Outdoor activities have always been popular pastimes for families and friends, but now – between office jobs, remote work, and isolation due to the pandemic – fresh air is needed more than ever. One of the best ways to get outdoors and enjoy beautiful nature is hiking – a workout that is great for both your physical and mental health. Hiking is an excellent way to get in some moderate-intensity cardio exercise, engage your core muscles, and improve your balance. It is also a mood booster. According to research, spending time in nature can help reduce stress, anxiety, and depression.
While hiking is fun and has many incredible benefits, there are a few common hiking injuries to watch out for. Blisters caused by friction between the skin and your footwear, minor cuts or scrapes, insect bites, or hypothermia when hiking during cold weather are common injuries and illnesses hikers may experience. That is why it is important to have a well-stocked first-aid kit in your pack, even if you’re just venturing out for a few hours.
Another thing you should always bring with you is knowledge of muscle and joint injuries that could happen while hiking – especially since these problems, when not treated properly, could lead to serious long-term issues like chronic pain. If you encounter a hiking injury, make sure to treat the area with the right treatment, which can include things like rest, support braces, exercises, and using an electrotherapy device like BioWaveGO® RX. Read on to find out more about common hiking injuries, ways to treat them, and tips for preventing them in the first place.
Uneven Hiking Terrain Can Lead to Ankle Pain
If you are hiking on an uneven trail littered with rocks, hidden obstacles, or slippery surfaces, a twisted ankle can be hard to avoid. While you may be able to walk off a minor sprain, severe sprains need more attention.
Prevent: Wear hiking boots, use trekking poles and step carefully. Strengthen joints by staying fit and warming up and stretching before hiking. The fitness trainer and adventure enthusiast group Fit for Trips shares hiking exercises such as ankle inversions and eversions you can follow to improve your mobility and ankle strength to avoid this kind of injury.
Treat: Mild ankle injuries can be treated using a method called R.I.C.E., which stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation to help reduce swelling and alleviate pain. An ankle brace can help provide stability while you heal. Check out how BioWaveGO RX can be used on the ankle area.
Climbs and Heavy Packs Can Result in Back and Shoulder Pain
Hiking may seem like it’s just a walk in the woods, but it can be deceptively demanding on your body. Walking uphill puts you at odds with gravity which can stress your back and lead to poor posture. Plus, a heavy backpack could contribute to back and shoulder pain, muscle stiffness, swelling, and reduced range of motion.
Prevent: If you plan to carry a backpack, be sure to pack only the necessities to reduce unnecessary weight and drag on your back and shoulders. The Adventure Junkies advise that when packing, make sure heavy items are loaded close to the body and the pack is properly adjusted to transfer the weight to your hips.
Also, stretching helps prevent back and shoulder pain, so make sure you take time to stretch before and after your hike. Here is a simple Band-Only Warm Up from the trainers at Peak Pursuit Perform & Rehab that you can do before your hike to help prepare your back and shoulders.
Treat: If you find yourself dealing with back and shoulder pain after your hike, try alternating ice and heat: Apply ice first to reduce swelling, and then a heating pad or heat wrap to soothe achy joints and muscles. You can also apply topical pain ointment to temporarily relieve pain. Additionally, during your post-hike recovery, practice some yoga poses to improve your flexibility and range of motion in your joints, which can help ease the pain and strengthen your body for the next hike. See how BioWaveGO RX can be used on the back and shoulders to help relieve pain.
Foot, Heel Pain Are Common for Hikers
Foot issues are one of the most common physical problems that hikers face. When taking a break, you may notice some heel pain. This pain can be a sign of plantar fasciitis. The plantar fascia supports the arch of your foot and absorbs shock when you walk. Hiking can inflame and irritate the fascia due to overuse.
Prevent: Stretch your hamstrings and calves regularly and not just before hiking. Try walking barefoot when you can for your feet to build strength and get more flexibility. Lastly, choose a good pair of hiking boots that will help your feet stay strong and protected.
Treat: Rest after a hike by minimizing your activity to stop any tearing and damage. A tip from the avid hiker Cris Hazzard, AKA Hiking Guy: Freeze a golf ball and massage the fascia by stepping onto the ball, applying some pressure, and rolling your foot on it. This helps break up knots in the muscle. Find out BioWaveGO RX can be used to ease foot pain.
Strengthen Your Muscles to Avoid Knee Pain While Hiking
Knee pain is a common injury among avid hikers, who may experience pain around the kneecap while hiking or several hours after leaving the trail. Although hiking uphill can be strenuous because of steep terrain, hiking downhill is usually what damages the knees. According to the Washington Trails Association, your knees absorb nearly eight times your body weight when hiking downhill. Your outstretched leg relies on the knee to handle the pressure when going downhill, and that pressure could lead to knee pain.
Prevent: Stay in shape and eat a healthy diet to fight inflammation that may exacerbate your knee pain. Also, work out your leg muscles regularly by doing hamstring, calf, and IT band stretches and exercises. Having strong and balanced quadriceps and hamstrings will support your knees by holding the joint in an optimal position and to help absorb some of the shock when hiking.
Treat: Take a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug to reduce pain and inflammation in your joints, while also doing the R.I.C.E. method and applying heating pads or wraps to soothe aches. Learn how BioWaveGO can also help you find knee pain relief.
Bounce Back from Common Hiking Injuries with BioWaveGO
Hiking can be fun and relaxing, but it can also push your body. Repair your sore or injured muscles and joints by following these tips, staying hydrated, and getting a good night’s sleep.
Adding an electrotherapy device like BioWaveGO® RX to your post-hike recovery regimen can accelerate your recovery. This 100% drug-free, wearable, FDA cleared with smarter pain blocking technology device helps relieve pain and inflammation and can optimize muscle recovery. BioWaveGO RX is covered by insurance: Private, Medicare, Federal Healthcare (VA) and Workers Comp. Get yours today.
Preparing yourself and your family to prevent and treat common hiking injuries can give you the confidence and know-how to have a fantastic time on your next hike. So what are you waiting for? Pack your backpack, lace up your boots, bring your BioWaveGO and get out there – the trails are calling!