Even the most experienced hiker is not immune injuries. You won’t be able to get survival gear that can stop an injury that has already happened. However, you can take steps to prevent hiking injuries before they happen or treat them afterwards.
Here are five of the most common hiking injuries and how you can prevent or treat them.
1 – Insect Bites & Stings
Insect bites suck.
You can itch for hours or even days later and they bleed if you scratch too much.
Your first line of defense against any insect attack is to cover up your skin. You should wear long sleeves and long pants to create a barrier between bugs and your skin.
Step two is for you to use insect repellent – which can be bought from any outdoor store. Sprays or creams with a high DEET content are usually most effective.
If you do find yourself getting an insect bite, afterbite or calamine lotion can help soothe the itch. Always familiarize yourself with what insects you’ll potentially encounter on a trip.
2 – Muscle Cramps are one of the most common hiking injuries
Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night with an intense stabbing pain in your leg? If so, then you know that muscle cramps are no joke.
The main cause of muscle cramps is dehydration. You need to drink water to keep your body fully hydrated in order to protect yourself from cramps. Always pack more water than you think you’ll need. You may not realize how much water your body needs after a long day outdoors.
Sometimes you won’t be able to carry the amount of water you’ll need, like on a multi-day hike. In this situation, you have to make sure there will be fresh water sources along the way. You should also think about bringing a water treatment device or tablets.
Avoid drinking alcohol while hiking as this will dehydrate you more.
Make sure to stretch before your hike to warm up your muscles. If you do find yourself with a cramp whilst hiking, try massaging the muscle or applying heat.
3 – Sunburn and Heatstroke
The sun is more dangerous than it looks.
Two of the most common hiking injuries from the sun are sunburns and heatstroke. You are at risk with any weather conditions, so don’t underestimate the sun.
If it’s sunny, you should wear sunscreen. If it’s cloudy, you should wear sunscreen. If it’s raining, you should wear sunscreen. If it’s snowing, you should wear sunscreen. You should always wear a sunscreen with at least 30 SPF!
You might be surprised to learn that you can still get a sunburn in the winter. The snow reflects the sun’s rays to your skin and causes a burn. During the summer, keep in mind that you are more prone to sunburn if you’re on or near the water.
Be sure you reapply sunscreen every few hours and select a more water resistant brand if planning to swim. You should bring along a hat, sunglasses to protect your eyes, and lip balm to prevent your lips from cracking.
If you do manage to get burnt, apply Aloe Vera afterwards and avoid the sun for the next few days.
4 – Blisters
You don’t want to be the person with blisters on a hike. If it’s bad enough it may even end the hike completely. You get blisters through friction, which causes fluid builds up between layers of our skin.
If you leave them untreated, blisters can swell, cause extreme discomfort, and even burst. Your best defense against blisters is to wear a quality pair of hiking boots that fit you well. You should also pair your boots with a good pair of thick socks.
Find the best hiking shoes you can afford and break them in well before you plan on undertaking longer hikes. If you know parts of your feet are prone to blisters, you can tape these areas or apply a Band-Aid under your socks. Check out our post for picking the best hiking shoes. Or you can use these lightweight hiking gear mentioned in our post.
5 – Minor Abrasions and Scrapes as hiking injuries
Cuts and scrapes don’t have a specific source so it’s hard to say how to prevent them.
You’d be surprised at how common these hiking injuries are though, so it’s a great idea to carry a First-Aid kit.
Your first aid kit will allow you to easily clean and cover any cuts, preventing possible infections.
Even if you have a small cut it can lead to more serious issues if not treated quickly or effectively.
Make sure to check out our Basic Emergency Survival Kit guide for tips on how to prepare for emergency situations when spending time outdoors.