The Traumas of Hiking
With summer in full swing, you may consider embracing nature with some long hikes as a way to spend quality time with your family. But for most of us, serious hiking will not be like a walk in the park and there are a number of things you should consider in order to avoid painful memories:
Fitness Level and Health
If it’s been awhile since you last exerted yourself, make sure you choose routes that are not too strenuous and try out some shorter walks first. If you have any doubts about your health,it may be a good idea to get a medical check-up.
Food and Drink
Water is essential, especially in the warmer weather to prevent dehydration and pack some lightweight food to keep up your energy.
Prepare yourself for the elements. Determine the elevation of your hike and check out weather forecasts. The temperature usually drops at higher altitudes, so wear layers of clothing.
This is probably the most important item for hiking because unsuitable or ill-fitting footwear can create a multitude of problems:
â— Blisters - These are caused by friction and can appear very quickly. Repeated trauma will result in the blisters bursting and becoming more painful.
â— Blackened toenails - Pressure from the toe box of your boot, especially when hiking downhill, causes bleeding under the toenail resulting in a blackening of the nail. The buildup of pressure may also loosen the toenail.
â— Shin splints - Pain in the lower part of the leg on either side of the shin can be caused by a sudden increase in activity or may be due to poor footwear.
â— Sprains and strains - If you are not accustomed to hiking and your footwear doesn't provide adequate support, uneven terrain may result in a sprain.
Buy lightweight, breathable hiking boots from a reputable outdoor merchant. Make sure they fit well and have sufficient room in the toe box for two pairs of socks: thin liner socks and thicker outer socks.
If you think you have a foot problem that may be made worse by hiking, seek advice from your Toronto-based Podiatrist, Sheldon H. Nadal, D.P,M., before your hike. He may recommend custom-made orthotics (special insoles) to stabilise your feet. He can also provide treatment if you are unfortunate enough to sustain any injuries.