Hiking Tips: The Art Of Avoiding Blisters And Injuries

Hiking tips: hiking requires special attention to shoes, socks, firstaid and biomechanical issues to avoid blisters and injuries. Cross training can make hiking less injury prone.

Anyone who has been involved in any type of long distance activity such as hiking will have noticed how small problems can grow into big problems and big problems can sometimes lead to injury. For example at the beginning of a hike you may notice a slight chafing sensation on the inside thigh, or a slight rubbing in your shoe. By the end of the hike you have developed a huge blister or a painful thigh, and you're sore enough that you are dreading the next day's hike.

With a little planning and some sensitivity to the type of problems you may encounter these problems can be eliminated, sometimes entirely. This leaves you free to really enjoy the outdoors and the pleasures nature can bring.

Simple blisters are one of the biggest problems that can arise from hiking. Luckily they are also one of the most avoidable injuries. It is a good idea to buy high quality hiking boots from a dealer who understands the problems hikers have. An outdoor or camping shop would be ideal. There are different types of boots to suit your personal needs. Some are light weight made for light hiking, these are often made out of synthetic materials. Others are heavier but more durable and very supportive to the feet and ankles, these are often made out of leather. It is important to try the shoes on and to make sure they are of correct length (with some room for the toes to move) and width. They must feel generally comfortable. If they don't feel comfortable or if you're unsure, don't buy them. Another important consideration at this point is your socks. Thin cheap socks will give you blisters during a long hike. A good pair of thick socks is recommended. Again your outdoor or camping shop can give you good advice on socks and can probably sell you what you need. Socks need to be considered at the same time as buying the shoes, this is because thick socks will increase your shoe size. If you don't take this into account you may find that your shoes are too tight and hey presto you will develop blisters! Thick socks are important for three reasons. Firstly and most obviously they create extra padding for your feet, secondly they reduce the friction between the feet and the hiking boots and thirdly they wick away sweat from the feet. These characteristics are very important when it comes to blister prevention.

Now that you have your hiking boots and high quality thick socks you need to wear the boots in. Under no circumstance buy a new pair of boots and go hiking in them for any distance the next day. Expect to wear them in over one or possibly two months of short walks. This gives the boot time to shape to your feet.

Many people who hike long distances may notice that they start to get sore knees or hips, especially when walking up or down steep slopes or hills. Despite the best care in the world these problems will continue to develop. This is because the legs are slightly misaligned and the joints don't track properly. This is a biomechanical problem, which must be addressed by a health professional such as a podiatrist. These problems often arise because the feet are slightly out of alignment. This in turn affects the rest of the leg. Luckily there is a fairly simple cure which works for most people. The cure is a set of orthodics. These look like innersoles, however they have been especially tailored to correct the misalignment in the feet. With a bit of luck that will also solve all the other leg problems you may have.

Whilst hiking it is important to carry a small first aid kit with you. The kit would include a stretch bandage to wrap around a sore knee or weak ankle. You should include blister pads and Band-Aids. These can be found in most supermarkets or chemists. These should be applied to the foot as soon as you start to notice some rubbing. This will stop blisters forming. It is a good idea to take off your shoes and socks approximately every 10 kilometers. Physically check your feet for any areas that may be developing into blisters and patch. Also a change of socks can help prevent blister formation. Carry some petroleum jelly and add it liberally to any areas that may be chafing. Common chafing areas to keep an eye on are between the thighs and under the arm pits. Good comfortable clothing will also help prevent chafing problems.

Lastly good prevention of injuries and general aches and pains comes from a good exercise program. Some cross training is always beneficial. Try some jogging or bike riding for something that is aerobic but different to hiking. Try yoga. This is good for keeping the muscles long and the joints supple. Too much repetitive work tends to shorten the muscles and reduce your flexibility, increasing the chances of injury. Also some upper body weight training and abdominal exercises can be useful. This will help you keep your body upright and in the correct posture, relieving the back from too much strain.

Hiking is good fun. With a little care enjoyment can be increased manyfold. Enjoy!

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