Hiking Injuries: Prevention and Treatment
Oct 10, 2023
Hiking can be a great excuse to be active, get outside, and experience the beauty of nature — unfortunately, hiking injuries are far too common around this time of year. While hiking is a fun and healthy activity to share with family and friends, things can go awry quickly if you and your party aren’t prepared for the worst-case scenario.
Fear not! The medical professionals at Complete Care are here to make you more aware of common hiking injuries, how to prevent them, and your treatment options so that you can have a safe and enjoyable hike.
What are the possible risks of hiking?
Hiking typically involves a person or group of people navigating uneven and unfamiliar terrain. Whether you’re hiking an upward trail or the side of a mountain, hikes are not quite as simple as a stroll in the park. Hiking can require a certain amount of dexterity and agility to accomplish safely, but even the most fit and experienced hikers can experience injuries.
As hiking is an outdoor activity, you also need to be cognizant of the weather and how unpredictable it can be, especially in places like Texas. One minute you can be walking in extreme heat and the next is a thunderstorm! It’s best to prepare for all types of weather and bring protective layers.
If you’re going to go on a hiking excursion, always pack a first-aid kit and make note of the nearest emergency room in your area just in case someone needs medical attention.
What are the most common injuries while hiking?
Some of the most common hiking injuries include strains and sprains, dehydration, cuts, and injuries from falling.
Picture this: you’re walking along a beautiful trail and looking at the gorgeous scenery, when all of a sudden, you hear and feel a pop! And then, the pain sets in. You may have sprained your ankle. When hiking, you’re bound to run into uneven terrain, slippery surfaces, or hidden obstacles that may cause you to lose your balance or trip. Encountering these can result in a twisted or sprained ankle which may end up cutting your trip short. If swelling and bruising are present with additional pain when pressure is applied, you will likely need severe ankle sprain treatment at your nearest ER or urgent care facility.
Cuts and other wounds
The wilderness can be breathtaking — but is also filled with pointy, sharp, and pokey objects. Branches, rocks, and other hazards can be responsible for causing cuts, scrapes, and lacerations to those who come in close contact. If you get a laceration wound from something out in the wild, it’s best to act quickly and not ignore it. Because your resources are a bit limited on the trail, make sure to pack bandages, gauze, and a disinfectant to prevent infection. If you’re unsure of whether or not your cut needs to be sewn up, check out our blog on how to know if you need stitches.
At the end of the day, hiking is exercise! You may be using muscles that you’re not used to using for lengthy periods. With that, however, you run the risk of painful muscle strains especially if you are not an experienced hiker. Some of the most common hiking muscle injuries include pain in the knees and lower back pain when hiking uphill. Both of these can turn your hike from pleasant to downright miserable in a matter of miles. Your lower body is responsible for getting you both up and down the trails, hills, mountains, or other types of terrain you decide to hike, so it’s important to keep them properly stretched and warm.
Injuries from falling
You may have heard horror stories about people falling during hikes, with the results being more severe for some than others. Unfortunately, falling during a hike is not all that uncommon especially if you’re descending a mountain, rock, or trail (gravity is not always your friend). Experiencing a fall during a hike can result in broken bones or sprains, lacerations, or even head injuries. If you happen to fall during a hike, stay put for a few minutes to fully check yourself for injuries. In some cases, pain or other symptoms may be delayed, and you don’t want to exacerbate any serious injuries.
If you’re hiking anywhere in Texas, the sun is probably still quite intense, even around this time of year. The heat paired with long periods of walking and scarce water sources are a recipe for dehydration. Dehydration is a common hiking injury that many people tend to ignore and brush off as fatigue. The best way to combat dehydration is to drink plenty of water and electrolytes before, during, and after the hike. You need to know when to go to the ER for dehydration, so if you or someone else is vomiting, has a high fever, loses consciousness, or has red, hot, and dry skin, you can head to the nearest emergency room for IV fluids.
How to prevent hiking injuries
Similar to camping injuries, hiking injuries can be preventable with the right preparation. Here are some tips for how to prevent hiking injuries:
- Stay alert: Being aware of your surroundings is crucial when out in nature. You may be able to spot rocks or dips in the trail, preventing an injury.
- Warm up before the hike: Take a few minutes to stretch and warm up your muscles before the hike begins to avoid strains.
- Pack a first-aid kit: As mentioned earlier, have a compact first-aid kit handy full of bandages, gauze, disinfectant wipes, ointments, and more to be able to address any small injuries you may encounter.
- Wear protective clothing and footwear: Long sleeves and pants will help shield your skin from any cuts or scrapes and keep your skin protected from the sun’s harsh rays.
- Hydrate: This is a given, but try to drink water before, during, and after your excursion to avoid dehydration.
- Bring a walking pole or stick: Having something to help you keep your balance on uneven terrain can be very useful in preventing injuries.
Complete Care can handle all types of hiking injuries
Whether you’re an experienced hiker or a rookie, hiking injuries can happen to anyone. It’s crucial to know where your nearest medical facility or emergency room is in case disaster strikes. With our 24/7 emergency facilities, Complete Care can have you in, out, and back to hiking in no time.
We have multiple ER locations in Texas (Austin, Corpus Christi, Dallas/Fort Worth, East Texas, Lubbock, and San Antonio) and in Colorado Springs that are fully equipped and staffed by emergency medical professionals who are here to help you through any injury. Outdoor sports lovers can rejoice knowing that our safety tips help to prevent injury, meaning you won’t have to take a break from the trails anytime soon.
More Helpful Articles by Complete Care: