Thursday, November 13, 2014

Tips to avoid sore feet, legs, back on hike

When hitting the trail, wear well-fitting hiking boots to avoid foot pain and
falls. Photo courtesy of George Hodan.
Given the largely sedentary nature of our schools and workplaces, sometimes we can set up our feet and bodies for a painful walk before we even hit the trail. Our bodies simply aren’t used to walking long distances, even though humans are optimally designed for it.

Indeed, being on one’s feet all day after a week of sitting at our desks or in our cars can result in sore soles, strained leg muscles, and lower back pain. That often means a difficult hike or a miserable couple of days after one.

Should you spend a lot of your time during the week sitting, do the following to ensure your feet and body are able to handle a hike:
g Don right kind of footwear – Put on well-fitting hiking boots and wool socks that give you traction, cushion your footfalls to prevent blisters, and better support your muscles, especially the ankle. Like a handicap score in golf, well-fitted footwear gives you the advantage, but in avoiding strain and sprains.
g Stretch before a hike – Stretching out your leg muscles will help warm them so that they don’t snap or turn sore during the walk.
g Maintain good posture – Your mother was right. Standing tall rather than slumping helps you to avoid neck, shoulder and back pain.
g Stay hydrated – Muscle cramps are more likely to occur when you don’t replace the water lost in your body from sweat. The hotter the weather, the more water you’ll need in your canteen.
g Sit during breaks – Getting the weight off your feet is vital. While sitting, elevate your feet for a few minutes.
g Treat blisters right away – If you feel one forming, take a rest break and address the issue. Letting it go can lead to a larger blister and a more uncomfortable hike.

Learn about trail guidebooks available in the Hittin’ the Trail series.