Common Hiking Injuries

first-aid-kitWhile there is always a slight risk any time you venture out into nature, hiking is a relatively low-impact, low-risk hobby. There are freak accidents and injuries from time to time, but for the most part, hiking is pretty safe. Being aware of common hiking injuries can help keep you safe on a hike. Here’s a list of some common hiking injuries, and ho you can avoid them.

Ankle sprains, twists, and rolls

Ankle injuries can bring your hike to an abrupt and agonizing halt. Make sure that you constantly watch your step. Avoid loose rocks and soil, make sure you have sure-footing, and watch for edges and slick spots. Another way to help prevent ankle injuries while hiking is investing in a pair of hiking boots with ankle support. Balance and strengthening exercises can also help prevent injury.

Bug bites

Typically, ticks, chiggers, and mosquitoes are little more than obnoxious, but they can also carry virus and disease. Luckily, insect bites are a seasonal problem, and bites can be prevented through insect repellent and long clothing.

Poison ivy

Like bug bites, poison ivy rashes are typically a summer issue. Most hikers are safe from poison ivy in the winter; however it is still possible to get poison ivy during the cold winter months. The oil that causes allergic reactions is still active even when the plants die down. Learn what poison ivy plants look like, and stick to the trails.

Blisters

Blisters can vary from unpleasant to unbearable. Comfortable wool socks, sock liner,s and hiking footwear that fits are all key to help preventing blisters. Make sure you stop and cover any hot spots before blisters develop.

Chafing

Chafing occurs due to heat, friction, and/or moisture build up on areas of your body. Friction is typically the main culprit. Make sure your clothes and backpack fit appropriately, and invest in synthetic or wool base layers. If chafing starts to occur, apply anti-chafing powder or balm.

Neck strains and shoulder pains

Neck strains and shoulder pains are common hiking injuries that are easily preventable. There are three main reasons you might experience these problems.

  • Your pack doesn’t fit you right.
  • Your pack isn’t adjusted properly.
  • There’s too much weight in your pack.

It’s pretty easy to fix numbers two and three. You will have to buy a new backpack if number one is your problem.

Pulled muscles

Believe it or not, pulling a muscle while putting on your backpack is a fairly common hiking injury. Most people bend over at the waist, yank their 30-pound pack up and swing it over their shoulders. This is a good way to hurt yourself. The proper way to put on a pack is:

  1. Drop down on one knee.
  2. Lift your pack onto your leg.
  3. Turn your torso and slide one shoulder through one strap.
  4. Rotate back and put your arm through the other strap.

Scrapes, cuts, abrasions, bumps, etc.

These things can’t really be avoided. Luckily, they’re not that severe. Long, protective clothing can help limit this type of injury, but your best bet is bringing a first aid kit with gauze, athletic tape, bandages, and antibiotic ointment.

If you’re getting ready to hike in Northwest Arkansas, stop by and see us before you hit the trail!

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