Are you an outdoor enthusiast? We bet you love hiking then or setting up camp on top of the mountain to be closer to the stars. If you have been daydreaming about getting out and enjoying the views with fresh air, grab your comfortable hiking backpacks and venture into the forest to be one with nature. However, your journey on a trail is not always sunshine and roses. A lot of planning goes into it because you need to be prepared for any trekking injuries you might get on your way.
Though hiking is a safe outdoor activity, accidents happen. The injury you get when all alone in the wild seems like a matter of life and death compared to how you handle it at home. Having a satellite phone helps in this case, as you can call 911 and alert them of your emergency. Still, you should equip yourself with some knowledge regarding hiking injuries to know what to do if the rescue arrives late. Oh, and don't forget the first aid kit.
Hiking keeps you active and is a great activity for children and adults. You might think learning survival skills is unimportant, but having them in your repertoire will be quite handy. Sometimes, a hiking injury can be fatal if not treated in time. Before talking about how to avoid them, let's take a look at some common ones:
Common Trekking Injuries
- Muscle cramps
- Bug bites
- Scrapes and abrasions
- Swollen feet
Sunburns make you feel a little self-conscious. If you are more concerned about hiding them than preventing them, you are going about it the wrong way. They are no joke! Sunburns often lead to blistering and other, in some cases, flu-like symptoms, including aches, chills, and fevers. Moreover, prolonged exposure to the bright yellow below contributes to skin cancer and premature aging.
A blister makes walking extremely painful. Now imagine hiking with one. Hobbling down a trail with a raw heel is something you don't want to experience. Blisters usually occur due to friction between your boots and foot. The repeated rubbing of your skin irritates your skin's top layer, leading to a fluid-filled sac forming on the surface. When a blister bursts, it reveals the raw skin underneath, which is vulnerable to infection.
Your ankles keep you going on a trail. Keep your ankles mobile and supportive on uneven terrain by ensuring they don’t get swollen or bruised. When you overstretch a ligament, your ankle bends unnaturally. As a result, you miss steps on rough ground and risk tripping.
In the wild, mosquitoes attack mercilessly. Though their bite is not dangerous, their non-toxic saliva triggers inflammation, leaving welts on your skin that cause agonizing and uncontrollable itching.
Trekking for hours can lead to chaffing, usually due to friction between your backpack and skin or other body parts. You will likely develop a mild rash, which can quickly become painful.
Ways to Prevent Trekking Injuries
ALWAYS Wear Sunscreen
The best way to prevent sunburns is to create a barrier between the sun and your skin. The solution lies in applying loads and loads of sunscreen. It coats your skin completely and reflects sun rays. Choose an SPF 60 sunscreen that is made for protection from outdoor adventures. This sunscreen's formula won't break down when you sweat.
No sunscreen is waterproof, despite what the packaging claims. Meaning: You must apply it after every two hours.
Don’t Hike Between 10 A.M. and 2 P.M.
Mid-day hiking is not a good idea. Here, the sun shines at its strongest, and no amount of sunscreen or protective clothing will keep you safe from UV rays. While sunburns are not a concern, heat stroke and dehydration are.
So, you should hike in cool weather before 10 A.M. and in the late afternoon after 4 P.M. Not only will your energy last longer, but the weather will allow you to have a pleasant time.
Dehydration symptoms include smelly and dark urine, excessive thirst, irritability, disorientation, headaches, and poor coordination. If you experience any of these, look for shade immediately. Rest for 15 to 20 minutes, drink plenty of water, and move only when you have full control over all your senses.
Wear UV-Protective Clothing
Just like SPF tells you how effective a sunscreen is in protecting you from sunrays, UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) indicates how much UV rays a fabric will block. For example, a UPF 60 fabric offers 98% protection from sun rays. Therefore, wear appropriate clothing when hiking, such as a long-sleeved t-shirt made with a synthetic fabric that keeps you dry.
When buying UV-protective clothing, look for the Seal of Authenticity to ensure you are not buying knock-offs.
Use Med Tape
If you have ever gotten blisters in your life, you probably know where they are most likely to occur when you wear your new boots. So, why not tape the area? Use med tape or KT tape. The latter helps support joints, ligaments, and muscles and relieves pain. It reduces swelling, enhances recovery, and increases mobility. One of the best things about this tape is that it does not restrict your range of motion.
Break In Your Shoes
You probably bought a new pair of boots for your hiking trip. They might be made with special material to keep your feet dry and protect them from other ground dangers, but their newness can cause blisters. We are not saying that you shouldn't buy new boots, but rather you break them in. Wear them in the house or while running short errands. You can even wear them in bed. Just ensure they are nice and comfy when you finally hit the trail.
Similarly, your skin can develop rashes due to wearing tight clothes. We don't recommend wearing loose clothes because they can make you trip. Ensure they leave enough room for your skin to breathe, and apply petroleum jelly in sensitive areas.
Try the RICE Method to Treat a Sprain
To prevent a sprain, balance exercises are crucial. They help strengthen the lower leg muscles. Try different poses in your warm-up exercises, including ankle circles, the tree pose, etc. If you are hiking in winter, ensure your boots stay put on slippery surfaces.
As for the RICE method, here’s what it means:
- Rest: Find a spot to rest immediately and elevate your feet.
- Ice: No need to panic if you don't have ice to treat a sprain. You can do two things: If you are near a stream or river, submerge your ankle in it or soak a t-shirt and wrap it around your swollen ankle.
- Compression: Once you feel some relief, use an elastic bandage to compress your ankle. Don’t tie the bandage too tight that it restricts circulation.
- Elevation: Raise your ankle high enough that it stays above your heart.
Use Hiking Sticks
Hiking sticks don't just assist you on your trail but take a load off your arms and legs. They lower the risk of an overstrained body part and prevent muscle cramps. By letting the stick take your weight, you can ensure balance on a steep hill.
Warm Up Before the Hike
Stretching offers you more range of flexibility and motion, which are vital for navigating rough terrain. It helps reduce soreness and ensures that you stay fit throughout your journey.
Pack Bug Spray
Need we say more? Pack bug repellants in any form with your lightweight backpacking gear. At night, seek shelter in your tent and ensure the flap or door is closed at all times. If you plan to sleep on a hammock, do so under mosquito netting.
The last and most important thing to remember when hiking is to stay alert. By that, we mean watching every step. A small fall could lead to serious injuries, leaving you immobile. Moreover, if you lose your ultralight hiking backpack, you won't be able to treat yourself, leaving you at the mercy of another hiker that might spot you.
First Aid Kit Essentials
You need to be prepared for the worst when on a hiking trip. These are common hiking possibilities, from getting lost to being caught under a rock slide or accidentally falling and injuring yourself. This is why your first aid kit should contain everything you need to survive until help arrives. Here's what it should include:
- Elastic Strap
- Blister Plasters/Med Tape
- Elastic Strap
- Insect Repellant
- High-Visibility Jacket
- Electrolyte Powder
- Sugar Sachets
- Alcohol Wipes
- Space Blanket
Know before you go – A hiking element that warns you to check the weather before planning your trip. Sometimes weather forecasts are inaccurate, but it's better to be safe than sorry. For example, rain can lead to slipper rocks, which increases your chances of falling when boulder hopping. In mountainous regions, lighting is quite common. You can get trapped in an electrical storm, which could be fatal. So, if there's the slightest indication that the weather will take a turn for the worst, return with your hiking boots to your house.
In conclusion, trekking injuries can be avoided with a little preparation and a first aid kit. When going on an outdoor adventure, copy your plan outlining the trail you will take and leave it with a friend and family member. Inform the park authorities of your return date so they can come looking for you if you run into an emergency.
To buy ultralight packs and lightweight backpacking gear, visit the Light Hiking Gear website. The common offers quality hiking equipment, including camping tents, portable stoves, trekking poles, etc. For information, call (801) 971-0007.