Autumn is such a beautiful time of the year to lace up the boots and head out into the hills. There is nothing better than breathing in the fresh air, feeling the cool air blowing against your face, and taking in the scenery of all the yellow, orange, and red of the falling leaves. An autumn hike is surreal and magical unless you end up with a sprained ankle or a bummed knee.
There is nothing more aggravating than having to hobble slowly down a mountain trail after spraining an ankle or straining your knee. The autumn magic quickly fades away and your left with pain and the thoughts of an ice pack, anti-inflammatories, and staying at home.
The chances are that injury did not have to happen.
We know how important it is to get out there and enjoy a nice trek on your day off. The last thing we would want is for that hike to be put to a halt because you got hurt doing the thing you love. That’s why we wanted to give you some tips, ideas, and pointers on how to stay safe and prevent injuries when heading out for an autumn hike.
There are some things you should know before heading out for a hike that can keep you safe. Most of us already know what we are about to share with you, but often forget these essential safety tips.
Now I know we discussed the potential for muscle and joint injuries but remember that other injuries can occur when we are hiking in the wilderness. Bug bites and stings, sunburn, poison ivy and oak, sunburns, scrapes and abrasions, swollen feet and blisters, and dehydration are other injuries we will want to prevent. Remember, while in nature there is the potential to be near wild animals.
Let’s discuss ways we can prevent injury so we can enjoy our autumn hikes.
Warm Up Your Body
Autumn temperatures can be cold and cold weather stiffens muscles and joints. It’s a good idea to perform some stretches for your lower body and back before heading out on your hike. Do some easy warm ups like high knee marching, lunges, and squats to get blood flowing and muscles warmed up. You may want to start your hike with a jacket or long sleeved top and keep the bottoms of your hiking pants zipped on for the start of your hike until you are warmed up.
A good pair of shoes or hiking boots is a must when going on a hike. No one wants to limp around for the next week because of blisters on their feet. Make sure you break in your boots before you go on a long hike or else you may end of with ‘hiker’s toe.’ A pair of good boots can help prevent ankle sprains. If you are hiking somewhere with poison ivy/oak you may want to wear long pants and long sleeve tops. Synthetic clothing helps wick moisture and keeps you dry. The appropriate clothing can help keep you from getting sunburns.
Take Rest Breaks
It’s a good idea to take rest breaks during your hike. When we get tired is often when we get injured. Rest breaks give us a chance to refresh ourselves and prevent muscle cramps.
Use Hiking Sticks
Hiking sticks or Nordic poles can take a lot of stress off your legs. This can help prevent muscle cramping or joint aches and pains. If you already have an injured or arthritic joint then you might want to give hiking sticks/poles a try to see if they make it easier for you to hike.
Staying Alert Always
When out for a hike it is important to always be alert. Depending on where you live there is the possibility to run into wild animals like bear, elk, moose, and mountain lion. You need to be on alert for uneven terrain, slippery rocks and leaves, and loose soil. Remember that in the fall is hunting season so be on the lookout for hunters.
Bring Enough Food And Water
Be prepared with enough to eat and drink. A strenuous hike can burn a lot of calories leaving you depleted fast. You will want to make sure you bring calorie dense foods to refuel your body. It can be easy to become dehydrated on a hike. Bring a lot of water with you. If you have a filter or UV pen bring them with you if you are in an area that has access to water.
We hope these ideas, tips, and ways to prevent injury and stay safe while hiking has been helpful. Get out there and enjoy the beautiful autumn weather.
If you happen to have been injured while hiking or have an injury that is preventing you from heading out to the trails, contact us. You can come in for a Free Discovery session to see how we can help you get back to trekking up the next summit.
I'm just a guy helping active adults and athletes frustrated by nagging aches and pains naturally return to a healthy lifestyle.