Hiking is one of the most popular outdoor activities in Canada. With so many beautiful parks and natural spaces, Canada’s hiking trails are enjoyed by people of all ages and abilities.
And while it’s a great way to get some vigorous exercise—hiking provides many mental and physical benefits—it would be a shame for the experience to be ruined because of an easily avoidable injury.
Like any physical activity, hiking is not without its risks. Each year, Canadian ERs see thousands of hikers with mild to severe injuries. The most common injuries among hikers are sprains and strains, accounting for over 51% of all injuries.
Here are some expert tips to help you avoid getting injured the next time you strap on your hiking shoes and head out:
Invest In Proper Footwear
Hiking usually involves navigating uneven terrain that’s riddled with slippery areas, hidden rocks, and sharp sticks. This makes it quite easy to slip, trip, or fall, leading to injuries that range from sprained ankles to concussions.
Investing in a proper pair of hiking boots, which fit well and offer good grip, can reduce the risk of injuries to a large extent.
Nature can be wild and full of danger. When you step away from civilization, you need to stay vigilant, no matter how exhilarating the experience is.
Keep a sharp eye out for any loose rocks or slippery surfaces. Even with proper shoes that offer traction, it is possible to slip and injure yourself.
Check the Weather Forecast
Hiking might seem like a great idea on a day when sunlight is streaming down, unhindered by the clouds. However, weather can change rapidly, and you can find yourself in an unsafe situation very quickly. The best thing to do is to check the weather forecast before heading off to hike.
This way, you can find out if the forecast calls for unexpected showers or thunderstorms. Rain can turn firm trails into muddy pathways, which makes slipping and falling more likely. Knowing the weather forecast can help you better prepare for your hike.
Avoid Dehydration and Fatigue
Spending too much time in the sun can cause dehydration, resulting in exhaustion and fatigue. This can increase the risk of injuries exponentially. Excessive sun exposure without proper protection can also lead to painful sunburns.
Dehydration can also cause dizzying spells, which can be quite dangerous while hiking. Make sure to take lots of water or sports drinks with you to stay hydrated while on the trail, and to prevent cramping and other side-effects of dehydration.
Beware Plantar Fasciitis!
Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common overuse injuries seen in hikers. It is caused by inflammation in the ligament that connects the toes to the heels of the feet. Repetitive expansion and contraction of your arches and toes can cause micro-tears in this ligament, resulting in pain in your arches and soles while walking.
The best way to avoid plantar fasciitis is by doing some stretches before starting your hike, and using footwear that offers enough arch support.
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