Hiking is a popular recreational activity and has seen increased interest in its more competitive and extreme forms. The American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons (ACFAS) reminds all hikers, whether avid or recreational, that injuries are common. Careful planning is essential to reducing the likelihood of injury and complications when they occur.
Hiking-related injuries range from minor concerns, such as blisters and bruises, to more serious conditions, including stress fractures and ankle sprains.
During outdoor adventures various forms of tendonitis are common. The Achilles tendon is prone to inflammation. Causes of Achilles Tendonitis are uphill climbs and shoes or boots that rub on the tendon along the back of the heel and ankle. Tendinitis can often be treated conservatively with ice, pain medications, and stretching exercises to strengthen the tendon and promote flexibility. Custom orthotics may also help by providing additional support for the foot’s arch and by addressing any overpronation.
Ankle sprains are one of the most common injuries in hiking. They are typically caused when you roll your ankle excessively inward, stretching or tearing the ligament on the outside of the ankle. Once your ankle ligaments have been damaged or stretched, you’ll be more susceptible to repeat injuries and chronic instability. Hiking enthusiasts commonly wear an ankle brace for preventative care.
Plantar Fasciitis is one of the most common foot problems that can present itself during a long hike. Symptoms are arch and heel pain that is present after rest and after long periods of standing or walking. The plantar fascia can also become strained. It is recommended to be evaluated by a podiatrist for custom molded foot orthotics. Custom orthotics will support your arch and heel, adding improved stability and motion control on uneven or rough terrain and limiting excess stress on feet, ankles, joints, and tendons.
Hiking the thousands of beautiful trails across the country can be a great way to absorb nature’s beauty while getting great exercise. Careful preparation can help reduce the chance of injury and make it easier for foot care professionals to treat when problems occur.