How to Avoid Injuries While Hiking

If you work from a laptop and travel a lot, it is important to back away from the screen and suck in some fresh air at times.

 

Hiking can be an awesome way to do this.

 

As a Physiotherapist and digital nomad myself, I have found hiking to be a great way to experience new locations while getting exercise for both body and mind.

 

So how do we ensure that our sedentary laptop bodies can avoid injuries while hiking?

 

I have done some great multi day hikes over the years, from Macchu Piccu in Peru, to Mt. Blanc in Europe and also the epic month long Camino de Santiago in Spain.

 

I am certainly no athlete, but I thrive on the trail. This is due to my hidden super power:

 

Preparation.

 

OK so it’s not as sexy as being able shoot lasers out of my fingers or fly, but my superpower has seen me injury free over thousands of kilometers.

 

In this post I am sharing my very best tips on how to avoid injuries while hiking.

 

 

Shoe selection

If you don’t have a history of ankle problems, and you will be walking on a well worn trail (most popular tourist trails) then my best footwear recommendation is this: get hiking shoes rather than hiking boots.

 

As you walk, your ankle naturally moves.

 

Having extra resistance from a boot around your ankle makes the muscles in your calf and shin have to work harder to move the ankle. This can lead to overload and injury.

 

Hiking shoes, as opposed to boots, will decrease the workload of your lower legs on the trail.

 

If you have a known history of ankle instability, consult your Physiotherapist about the best footwear option.

 

They may also give you exercises to improve your ankle stability.

 

Hiking boots may be warranted if your hike is going to be very rocky, and/or if you are going where there are no trails.

 

If this is the case, you are probably an advanced hiker anyway. You have probably already worked out what works best for you.

 

 

Pack Selection

My advice on pack selection is to pick the smallest possible one for the job.

 

Although you may think a really big pack will be more flexible for your needs, there is only one thing people tend to do with surplus pack space.

 

They fill it.

 

One of the best ways to develop injury on the trail is to carry a super heavy pack.

 

You don’t need War and Peace, your shampoo can act as soap (or vice versa) and you really only need 2 sets of clothes – one for hiking during the day, and one to wear in the evening.

 

A good hiking pack has a rigid frame, space for a hydration bladder, and a decent padded hip belt.

 

There should preferably be pockets on the waist strap to hold ‘quick draw’ objects like your phone/camera and a snack.

 

Put your heavy stuff at the bottom of your pack, and use light packing cells to enable you to pack and unpack quickly without your entire pack contents exploding right across the trail.

 

Training

You’ll be amazed at what the human body has the capacity to do given adequate time to adapt.

 

With graduating doses of repetitive load, skin, tendons and bones will become thicker, stronger and more resilient.

 

So the best way to avoid injuries while hiking is to hit the trail regularly, and in increasing volumes.

 

Give yourself 3 months to train for a moderate hiking trip. Six months for an epic adventure like Base Camp.

 

Work out what you can do now, and what you will need to do to complete your goal.

 

Then use simple maths to graduate your distances and loads over that time.

 

Go on a longish walk every weekend, and a bigger training hike each month.

 

Obtain your hiking shoes and pack as early as possible so you can start training with them.

 

Although hiking seems worlds apart from the laptop life, the two can coexist beautifully.

 

You will return from the trail with a stronger body.

 

You will also be impressed at the creativity and productivity boost you will experience following a spell on the trail.