How to Avoid Hiking Foot Injuries
Fall provides wonderful scenery for hiking. You can’t wait to get outside and spend some quality time with your family or simply enjoy the weather while burning some calories. Hiking is a great way to have fun and get into shape. Studies suggest moderate hiking burns around 370 calories per hour! Unfortunately, like many other popular exercises, hiking can have some negative effects on your feet, and if you don’t follow the right precautions, you could end up with minor to severe hiking foot injuries. Some minor injuries that could be caused from hiking include blisters and bruises. Severe injuries range from ankle sprains to fractures and breaks. Here are a few tips on foot safety while hiking:
Wear the right shoes- Always wear hiking shoes when hitting the trails. Your shoes should have ample arch support and cushioning, as well as good ankle support. Avoid wearing tennis shoes, as they don’t have appropriate soles to grip wet/slippery or rough terrain, and don’t have proper ankle support.
Wear lightweight hiking socks-Lightweight hiking socks wick away moisture and provide cushioning to the balls of the feet and heels. Make sure the socks are crew socks, not ankle socks, to prevent blisters on the upper ankles. Hiking shoes have higher ankle coverage to prevent sprains and strains and taller crew socks prevent excessive rubbing on exposed skin.
Carry medical supplies-It’s always a good idea to carry a first aid kit when hiking. This kit should always include a fresh pair of socks, bandages, and ointments. Always treat any foot injuries immediately, no matter how minor they may seem. A small blister can quickly become infected and turn into a painful open wound if not covered and protected shortly after detection.
Know your route ahead of time- It’s always important to know your hiking route ahead of time. Carry a copy of your mapped itinerary, and if possible, don’t hike alone. If an injury occurs, have your map marked with potential ways to quickly get back to the trail exit. Look for ranger stations marked on the map, just in case you experience a more severe injury and need to get help.
If you’re experiencing any foot pain after a hike, make sure you seek medical treatment as soon as possible to avoid complications and possible infection, especially if you have diabetes, peripheral neuropathy or other condition where infection is more likely to occur.
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