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Most common hiking injuries & how to avoid them

Hiking is the activity that got me into the outdoors when I was first 5 years old at summer camp. As I get older it's still one of my favourite ways  to stay fit, get fresh air, and enjoy the great outdoors. However, as with anything good it also comes with risks, and musculoskeletal injuries are not uncommon. Injuries can range from minor cuts and bruises to serious sprains, strains, and fractures. As a hiker, it's essential to be aware of the most common hiking injuries and how to avoid them. In this blog post, we'll discuss some of the most common physio-related hiking injuries and provide tips on how to prevent them.

  1. Ankle Sprains

Ankle sprains are one of the most common hiking injuries, and they can happen when you step on uneven terrain or twist your ankle while walking. To avoid ankle sprains, make sure you wear supportive footwear that fits well and has good traction. Avoid wearing flip flops or sandals while hiking, as they offer little to no support for your feet. You can also use hiking poles for added stability and support on particularly challenging trails.

If you do experience an ankle sprain, you are 90% more likely to have a reoccurring sprain in the next year so it's important to act quickly and perform proper physiotherapy. Made by Movement has a 4 part series on ankle sprains from the moment of injury to the exercises to perform to reduce the risk of it happening again. 

  1. Knee Injuries

Knee injuries are common among hikers, especially when going downhill. The impact of each step can put a lot of stress on your knees, which can lead to pain, inflammation, and even tears in the ligaments or cartilage. To prevent knee injuries, make sure you wear shoes with good traction, use hiking poles to reduce the impact on your knees, and avoid overloading your backpack. You can also do exercises to strengthen your leg muscles, such as squats and lunges.

If you do experience knee pain, stop hiking and rest. You can also apply ice to the affected area and take over-the-counter pain medication if needed. Physiotherapy can also help you recover from a knee injury by providing exercises to strengthen the muscles around the knee, improve flexibility, and reduce pain and inflammation. Made by Movement has a 12 week series for knee PRE-hab which ensures good strength and mobility keeping you knees as resilient as possible. Alongside this series we also have incredible yoga, Pilates, mobility and strength classes to help you gain control, strength, and stability into your knee. 

3. Lower Back Pain

Lower back pain is a common hiking injury that can be caused by carrying a heavy backpack, walking on uneven terrain, or sitting for prolonged periods in cars to get to the big hike trailhead. To prevent lower back pain, make sure you wear a backpack that fits well and distributes the weight evenly across your back. You can also do exercises to strengthen your core muscles, such as planks and bridges (our Pilates in perfect for this).

If you do experience lower back pain, stop hiking and rest and do gentle stretches. Made By Movement classes can also help you recover from lower back pain by providing exercises to strengthen the muscles around the lower back, improve flexibility, and reduce pain and inflammation.

  1. Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is another common hiking injury that can be caused by walking long distances on uneven terrain or wearing shoes that don't fit well or doing too much too soon without (or sometimes even with) training. It occurs when the plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue that runs along the bottom of your foot, becomes inflamed. To prevent plantar fasciitis, make sure you wear comfortable and well-fitting shoes that provide good arch support, and ensure you have proper ankle, and foot mobility and strength. You can do exercises to stretch and strengthen the muscles in your feet and calves.

If you do experience plantar fasciitis, rest and avoid activities that aggravate the pain. Physiotherapy and Made By Movement can also help you recover from plantar fasciitis by providing exercises to stretch and strengthen the muscles in your feet and calves, improve flexibility, and reduce pain and inflammation.

  1. Shoulder Injuries

Shoulder injuries can occur when carrying a heavy backpack, using hiking poles incorrectly, falling onto the shoulder following a trip, etc. They can range from strains and sprains to more severe injuries, such as rotator cuff tears. To prevent shoulder injuries, make sure you wear a backpack that fits well and distribute the weight evenly across your shoulders. Avoid carrying a backpack that is too heavy for you to handle comfortably. Also, make sure you use your hiking poles correctly, keeping your arms at a 90-degree angle and placing the poles firmly on the ground.

If you do experience shoulder pain or injury, rest and avoid activities that aggravate the pain. To prevent the likelihood you should also strengthen the muscles around the shoulder, improve flexibility, and reduce pain and inflammation.

Conclusion

Hiking is an excellent way to stay fit, and one of my personal favourite ways to enjoy the outdoors, and challenge myself. However, it's essential to be aware of the common hiking injuries and how to avoid them. By taking proper precautions, such as wearing the right footwear, using hiking poles, and doing exercises to strengthen your muscles, you can reduce your risk of injury and enjoy your hiking experience to the fullest. If you do experience an injury, rest and seek medical attention as needed. With the right care and treatment, you can recover quickly and get back to enjoying the great outdoors. 

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