When you go for a hike your feet and legs absorb the impact of every step, making foot care essential to achieve your best performance. Hikers should take precautions to avoid injuries to the foot, ankle and lower leg.The risk of hiking injuries can be increased by high arches, reduced ankle range of motion, leg length discrepancies and footwear choices.
At My FootDr, we want to help prevent all those frustrating problems and injuries people experience when hiking. The podiatrists at My FootDr are trained to assess the feet and lower limb, diagnose and treat injuries, provide injury prevention strategies and education on finding the right hiking boots. If you are thinking of starting hiking, or are presently an active hiker, then a visit to a My FootDr to ensure that you are doing everything possible to remain injury free.
What are the most common hiking injuries?
Blisters are an acute response to high levels of stress on the skin. Long hikes or hiking across rough terrain can expose skin to friction, shearing or abrasion, which can lead to blisters. The shearing force separates the skin into two layers and space between fills with fluid.
Hiking across rocks or rough tracks can cause you to sprain your ankle. An ankle sprain occurs when the foot twists or rolls beyond its normal range of motion. This causes the ligaments holding the ankle joint together to over-stretch resulting in ligament damage. Once an ankle sprain has occurred, it’s very important to take the correct treatment and rehabilitation.
Many hikes are uphill or over long distances. This can cause tightness in the back of the lower leg – the Achilles tendon. This is the tendon that connects the two major calf muscles to the back of the heels.The Achilles tightens and becomes irritated when it is under too much stress.
This pain is felt along the shin bone and often it develops during the initial stages of training, or with overuse. Running terrain and footwear choice can also be contributing factors to this condition.
How can you avoid hiking injuries?
Stretching – Stretching helps to reduce muscle tension, prepares the muscles for intense exercises, and gradually helps to increase the flexibility and range of movement in your limbs. Stretching before exercise can help to decrease the chance of muscle injury.
Footwear– Selecting the right hiking boots can help to ensure you’re not only comfortable but to reduce the risk of developing or exacerbating injuries. For details on how to find the perfect hiking boot download our FREE Hiking Boot Review ebook.
Check how you walk – It may not be the act of running that causes conditions or injuries. It may be poor biomechanics (i.e. your walking or running style). If you’re a recreational or regular hiker, it’s worthwhile getting a video walking analysis to identify the most appropriate footwear. If you have symptoms of foot, ankle or leg pain that recurs after hiking, then it is likely you have a biomechanical issue and you may need prescription custom foot orthotics to correct the dysfunction.