Staying Injury-Free during Hiking Season
Written by: Rachel Grant, MScPT, B.Kin
We are fortunate enough to live just a few short hours from the beautiful rocky mountains! Whether you are an avid hiker and have years of experience under your belt, or have just started to explore the trails, injury prevention should be a top priority. Hiking injuries tend to be injuries to the lower limb. These injuries can range from acute injuries such as a ligament sprain to overuse injuries such as tendonitis. The goal of this blog is to give you an idea of what injuries to look out for and most importantly some prevention tips.
The most common lower limb sprain injury tends to be an ankle sprain when you overstretch the ligaments in your ankle from rolling it on uneven terrain. A key aspect to preventing this injury is to first have proper footwear.
● Getting fitted to a hiking boot or trail runner that fits you well and provides you support around the ankle joint for your activity is key.
● Secondly, it can be beneficial to strengthen and stretch your calf muscles. Completing a basic calf stretch before and after hiking in the parking lot helps keep your ankle mobile. Strengthening your calf muscles with exercises such as a calf raise will provide stability around your ankle joint to tackle uneven rocks, tree roots and the steep incline and decline of a trail.
● Adding in some challenging balance exercises such as balancing near a counter with your eyes closed or working on maintaining your balance while standing on a pillow can prepare your ankle for the mountains.Overuse injuries are the next most common injuries you can encounter. Pain at the front of the knee, particularly with the descent of a hike can result in injuries such as patellofemoral pain syndrome and/or patellar tendonitis (inflammation of the tendon). Stretching and strengthening the muscles surrounding the knee and hip joint can help prevent and treat this knee pain.
● Stretching the front of the thigh of the quadriceps muscle before & after a hike is also beneficial to prevent this injury. A simple stretch you can add is shown here.
● Strengthening this same muscle with exercises such as a single leg step up and down a stair, and lunges can also be very beneficial.
● Strengthening your hip muscles such as your glutes will provide support to your knee joint. Simple exercises such as a squat and a glute bridge with a resistance band are a great addition to any workout program. Lastly, an important part of injury prevention is preparing your body for the activity by slowly building up your endurance. Starting with lower elevation and shorter hikes at the beginning of the season to gradually building up to more challenging trails builds up your muscles to tackle a full hiking season injury free! Don’t forget about taking adequate rest breaks during the hike and in between hiking days while mixing in other kinds of exercise such as cardiovascular and strength training.
Sadly, despite our best efforts, injuries may still happen. If you experience injury hiking or maybe you would like to focus on injury prevention tailored specifically to you, our team at Active Sports Therapy can design a treatment program for your goals today! Call the office at 403-278-1405 today to book in with our team of experts.
*This blog is not intended to officially establish a physician-patient relationship, to replace the services of a trained physician, naturopathic doctor, physical therapist or chiropractor or otherwise to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.