Outdoor activities are not for the weak of heart.
Most, if not all, of it involves a considerable amount of physicality. So one really needs to have a lot of strength, endurance, and perseverance to enjoy and thrive in those activities.
And just like any other physically demanding sport, injuries also play a part in hiking. No one wants to be injured but it is sometimes an inevitability that hikers need to face.
But if a hiker can avoid injuries then that’s definitely the ideal situation. After all, no one wants to be injured, right?
If you’re a hiker and you get hurt then there’s no way that you could enjoy the experience. And worse, you could hinder my companions from enjoying it as well.
A major part of avoiding injuries is to know what the most common ones are. If you know and understand it, then it’s easier to take care of yourself.
So before we go on a hike why don’t we spend the next 5 minutes talking about the top 10 hiking injuries and how to avoid them?
10 Common Hiking Injuries and How They Can be Avoided
Blisters just seem so common for hikers. It’s like one of those things that a hiker needs to accept as part of the deal if he wants to continue hiking.
What causes blisters? Well, blisters are caused by friction that triggers fluids to build up in between the irritated layers of skin. Eventually, it leads to swelling.
To avoid blisters, here are some tips that we can all follow:
- The first step in avoiding blisters is by wearing shoes and socks that fit closely and comfortably. That means carefully choosing what you’re going to wear on your feet before you even start hiking.
- If you start feeling a so-called ‘hot spot’ in an area of your feet where blisters could occur, apply a layer of moleskin and athletic tape.
- Try to keep your feet dry or at least don’t let it get wet for extended periods of time to avoid blisters.
- Treat blisters by draining it or cutting the area that’s affected and applying antibiotic ointment. Apply a Band-Aid and athletic tape.
2. Bug Bites
Bug bites are just as common a problem as blisters for hikers. It really can’t be helped since hikers are going outdoors where there are potentially all kinds of insects.
A hiker should expect to endure bites, stings, and other kinds of annoying things associated with bugs as varied as flies and mosquitoes.
To avoid bug bites or at least deal with them:
- Excellent choices that can help avoid those pesky insects are the many insect repellents available in the market today.
- Wearing clothing that covers the skin entirely or at least the limbs will also help considerably.
- There are products that will help control the urge to scratch the itchy insect bites such as Calamine lotion that you can buy in any drugstore nowadays.
Chaffing is a very real threat to how one enjoys his or her hiking experience. It is quite an irritating experience to say the least and especially if it occurs down there in between the legs.
To avoid it:
- Wear the right active underwear underneath one’s regular underwear to help prevent it or at least minimize its effects.
- If chaffing still occurs, then carefully clean it using water then dry it. After drying, apply petroleum jelly on the affected area.
4. Ankle Injuries
Ankle injuries can be quite tricky. That’s because if it’s serious enough, it could mean the end of one’s hiking experience, at least for that moment.
The chances of getting an injured ankle while hiking will always be there. Imagine going through uneven trails, slippery surfaces that have rocks and other obstacles.
To avoid these frustrating injuries:
- A hiker needs to wear the appropriate boots that provide ample ankle protection.
- It would also be good to use any form of stabilizer that aids in hiking, such as a walking stick for instance.
- In case of an ankle injury like a twisted ankle, the hiker needs to elevate the injured foot, and know how to make an ankle brace.
And if you don’t know if you should wear shoes or boots for hiking, then you should probably read this article next.
5. Diarrhea and/or Constipation
Some might find this a bit funny to talk about or even think about, but diarrhea or constipation is a very serious problem when hiking.
It’s a significant inconvenience and the hiker’s health could even be endangered. They could become dehydrated and no one would like that to happen while they are out hiking.
Diarrhea is possibly caused by bacterial infection and can cause dehydration. Constipation, on the other hand, has many potential causes and among them are stress and a new diet.
Just make sure to bring along laxatives and medicines such as Imodium for Diarrhea.
6. Muscle Cramps
Muscle cramps are another inconvenient although light injury that could happen to anyone who is out hiking.
The culprit here is inadequate intake of water or dehydration. So the solution seems enough and that is to drink plenty of water throughout the day and not just throughout your hike.
It is also helpful to stretch your body before the hike. Stretching will also be helpful for any hiker who is already being hit by cramps.
Drink sports drink that is filled with electrolytes and also apply hot and cold compress to the cramped area.
Exhaustion is another one of those minor injuries or should we say conditions that hikers need to deal with. Not all the time, of course, but some of the time when the hikers are making their way through the most difficult trails.
Being exhausted is not always negative for hikers since it also means that they are pushing their bodies and accepting the challenges of the trail.
Hiking means that the body is burning plenty of calories and the body demands as much fuel as it could consume. So the usual cause of exhaustion is insufficient nutrition as well as dehydration.
One of the best solutions for exhaustion is if a hiker is expecting to go on a long hike, he could choose to take long rest periods in between. He can do this even if it means prolonging the hike a little bit more.
8. Poison Ivy
Being victimized by Poison Ivy/Poison Sumac/Poison Oak will certainly take much, if not all, of the fun from any hiking or camping activity.
Just imagine dealing with the rash that those plants could cause if one is not very careful.
To avoid any problems:
- The first key is to learn how to identify each of plants. Most of those who are victimized can’t identify them properly out there.
- Making sure that one’s arms and legs are covered with long sleeved clothing can go a long way in ensuring that the hiker would not be affected by the plants.
- Avoid overexposure to these plants and refrain from inhaling them if they are burned. If that happens, the hiker needs to abandon the trail and seek immediate medical attention.
9. Sun Burn
Including sun burn in a list of minor hiking injuries is debatable. But still, almost all hikers would need to deal with it at some point.
But even though sun burns are very common for any outdoor activity, there is no denying that it can be quite irritating and bothersome.
The initial solution that would come to mind is to simply wear long sleeved shirts and pants to protect the skin from being over exposed to the sun.
However, for those who do not feel too comfortable when wearing such clothing, the next best choice would be to use sunscreen and any product that contains Aloe Vera.
10. Scrapes and Abrasions
Scrapes and abrasions are more minor compared to other minor injuries listed here and some might not even consider it as an injury.
The good news is that since they are minor it is also quite easy to treat them. By simply using a few Band-Aids and some antibiotic lotion, the scrapes and abrasions can be treated.
For those who want to avoid them right from the start, wearing long sleeved shirts and long pants would once again be the proper solution.
Don’t let these injuries ruin the fun!
Most of the hiking injuries that are included in this list are considered minor. But they are also often unavoidable, which is why every hiker needs to be ready for all of them even before the hiking begins.
The only real solution is to be prepared properly for these and any other possible injury or situation. Once a hiker is ready, then he could and should put more of his focus on the actual hiking and enjoy every single moment of it.
By the way, don’t forget to grab our free trekking checklist for your upcoming hiking adventure!