The Most Common Hiking Injuries (And How to Prevent Them)

The Most Common Hiking Injuries (And How to Prevent Them)

5 Common Hiking Injuries and How to Avoid Them

Hiking is a great way to get exercise and enjoy nature’s beauty. Unfortunately, it can also result in injuries if you don’t take steps to keep yourself safe on the trail.

Here are some of the most common hiking injuries, along with some tips for treating and preventing them in the first place. 

1. Sprained ankles 

Uneven hiking trails are often riddled with rocks, slippery surfaces and hidden obstacles, which means sprained ankles can be a frequent occurrence. While you may be able to walk off a minor sprain, severe sprains could leave you stranded in the wild. 

Avoid these painful injuries by wearing quality boots with ankle protection. You should also hike at a steady, safe pace while maintaining good balance and footing every step of the way. 

2. Injured knees

Shifting terrain and steep slopes can lead to both minor and severe knee injuries. You can reduce your risk of injury by taking things slow and staying alert for potential hazards. There are also several helpful steps you can take to protect your knees during a hike.

For example, trekking poles allow you to maintain proper balance and better stability. These handy tools help you manage the weight from your body and pack, so you can avoid or minimize knee pain while hiking.

3. Exhaustion

It may sound like a minor inconvenience, but exhaustion can be a serious issue. Commonly caused by inadequate nutrition and dehydration, extreme fatigue affects your decision-making and compromises your ability to navigate the trail safely. 

Since hiking causes your body to torch calories, it’s helpful to bring along calorie-dense food that won't weigh you down. You should also drink lots of water and make sure to get into shape before attempting your hike.

4. Scrapes and abrasions

While major cuts are noticeable, it can sometimes take until the end of the day to notice small scratches on your arms and legs. In addition to making you miserable, scrapes and abrasions can leave you susceptible to infections that can turn serious out in the wild. 

Long pants and sleeves can make a huge difference. In hot environments, however, they may not be practical. Keep a watchful eye so you can quickly treat scrapes with antibiotic lotion and Band-Aids. Watch for redness, swelling, pain, and foul smells, which could indicate a serious bacterial infection. 

5. Sunburn

Uncomfortable sunburns can cause you to toss and turn in your tent. They can also increase your risk of skin cancer. You can prevent sunburns by wearing long sleeves and pants as often as possible. Hats also offer excellent sun protection. 

You should also apply a protective sunscreen every couple of hours, but remember that all sunscreens are not created equal. To make sure you are getting optimal protection, review this helpful sunscreen buying guide from Consumer Reports.