Trekking Injuries: Prevention & Treatment

Trekking Injuries: Prevention & Treatment

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Traveling is an incredibly rewarding experience and usually a lot of fun, and traveling by foot offers the ability to explore vast landscapes and new places that you’d likely never see by car. However, trekking in unknown destinations in the wilderness also can come with inherent risks. The good news is that many of the common injuries you may face are preventable and treatable. So knowing how to properly prevent and treat them is essential to ensure you have a safe and enjoyable trek. 

Trekking Injuries: Prevention & Treatment

Common Trekking Injuries

While many different injuries can occur while trekking outdoors, here are some of the most common ones that you might experience.

Blisters

Small but mighty, blisters are an all too common injury you might experience while out on the trail. Blisters are caused by friction between your footwear and skin, so the more you’re walking the more likely you are to develop a blister.

To prevent blisters, make sure you have well-fitting socks that are high enough to prevent rubbing, and invest in a high-quality pair of hiking shoes or boots. Always pack an extra pair of socks to keep your feet dry. If you feel a tender hot spot, put a bandage or athletic tape over it to prevent it from becoming a full-blown blister. 

Treatment: Using a flame-sterilized needle, gently pop the blister, dry it, and clean it well. Then cover the area to prevent any further rubbing. 

Sunburn

Sunburns are a common issue when trekking in exposed areas for an extended period of time. And the higher you trek, the strong the sun’s harmful UV rays are. Not only are sunburns and excess exposure to the sun painful, but they can also put you at a greater risk for heat-related illnesses. 

To prevent sunburns, protect your skin with loose, long sleeve clothing, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses. For all the areas of your skin exposed to the sun make sure to apply sunscreen with SPF30 or higher and make sure to reapply every two hours, especially if you get wet or are sweating excessively. Zinc sunscreens are best for outdoor activities as they tend to stay on better than chemical formulas and they’re also safer for you. 

Treatment: Move to a cool, shaded area and drink plenty of water. You can also apply a cool, damp cloth to the sunburned areas. Apply aloe vera or after-sun lotion to soothe the skin and prevent it from peeling.

Sprains and Strains

Uneven terrain, loose ground, and slippery surfaces can increase your chances of falling or spraining an ankle, or straining muscles. 

To prevent them, stretch before hiking, use hiking poles or a walking stick, wear proper hiking boots, and watch your footing when passing through tricky areas.

Treatment: Elevate the sprain and wrap the injury with ice or a cloth soaked in cold water to reduce swelling. Rest as much as possible. 

Dehydration

Dehydration occurs when our bodies lose more fluids than we’re taking in, which can easily happen when we exert ourselves on longer treks, especially in warmer weather. 

To prevent dehydration, drink plenty of water throughout your trek, not only when you’re thirsty. Sports drinks and electrolyte powders are also helpful as they contain essential electrolytes and minerals your body needs. 

Treatment: Excessive thirst, headaches, lack of energy, and dark urine are all signs you’re probably dehydrated. Rest in a cool, shaded area and drink plenty of fluids. 

Trekking Injuries: Prevention & Treatment

Prevention Tips

Here are some essential tips that may help you avoid injuries while trekking. 

Do your research

One of the best ways to prevent injuries from happening is by properly planning and researching your trek. Research the trail, including its difficulty level, terrain, length of trek, native wildlife in the area, and what obstacles or dangers you may encounter along the way. When you know what to expect and what difficulties you may face, you’ll be better prepared to handle them. Talking with other seasoned hikers and local park officials can also be beneficial. 

Dress appropriately 

Dressing appropriately to the weather, terrain, and climate is essential for not only a comfortable trek but a safe one. Wear quality hiking boots and layered clothing so you can easily adjust to the changing temperatures throughout your trek. 

Perform warm up exercises

Performing a light exercise and stretching before your trek is a great way to prep your body and muscles increasing your range of motion and flexibility. 

Trekking Injuries: Prevention & Treatment

Stay alert

Becoming complacent and unaware while trekking can be incredibly dangerous. While in the wilderness, stay alert and always be mindful of your surroundings and where you’re stepping. A single wrong step has the potential to cause serious injury if you’re not careful and there may be dangerous wildlife nearby that you want to avoid.

Always bring a first aid kit

When packing for a trek, there’s essential gear that you should always have with you regardless of where you’re going. One of them being a first aid kit. The items inside your first aid kit can help you treat common injuries and illnesses if they do happen. And while having a first aid kit is vital, knowing how to use its contents is equally important. Taking a Wilderness First Aid course like those from Global Emergency Medics, can prepare you for accidents and injuries that can occur during your trek and give you the knowledge and confidence to manage them.  

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Trekking is a pleasure but it also contains some risks. Read about the most common trekking injuries and how to prevent and treat them! Trekking is a pleasure but it also contains some risks. Read about the most common trekking injuries and how to prevent and treat them! Trekking is a pleasure but it also contains some risks. Read about the most common trekking injuries and how to prevent and treat them!

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