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TELL YOUR ACHES AND PAINS TO TAKE A HIKE!

With summer weather just around the corner, many people will be finding themselves venturing out and taking advantage of the warming fresh air. A common excursion that people enjoy doing in the summer is taking hikes. This is a great form of exercise that contains several benefits, such as endurance training, core exercise, and strengthening of the leg muscles. However, hiking can also have some downfalls if you are not careful. Because of this, it is important to be prepared beforehand so you can avoid any unnecessary injuries. What are some of the most common hiking injuries? Twisted ankle. This is perhaps the most common injury that hikers experience. Hiking terrain is uneven and can sometimes contain hidden obstacles or slippery surfaces. We’ve all seen it before: you’re on the trail, taking in the scenery, when suddenly… you slip on an unsteady rock. This can leave someone hindered for the rest of the trail, not to mention how it will pose an unfortunate and possibly painful recovery period ahead. Twisted ankles can be avoided by wearing appropriate hiking boots with ankle protection, as well as carrying a hiking stick or some other form of stabilizing equipment with you along the trail. If you do twist your ankle, make sure to follow the R.I.C.E method afterwards – rest, ice, compression, and elevation. If pain persists, make sure you contact a physical therapist as soon as possible to relieve pain and prevent further damage.

Muscle cramping. Muscle cramps can be limiting and even debilitating during a hike. Nothing can leave a hiker feeling more defeated quite like feeling a leg cramp with every step they take up the mountain. Cramping is often caused by dehydration, and can be avoided by keeping a water bottle with you during the hike and making sure you drink a large amount (if not all) of it throughout your journey. However, cramping can also be caused by tight muscles that are not used to the physical activity you are putting them through, especially for new hikers. Stretching before you hike, specifically in your ankles, calves, and thighs, can help avoid any pesky cramps that may leave you hindered. Scrapes and abrasions. Many hiking trails contain thorny bushes, branches, or twigs that you may have to maneuver through. Some are so subtle that you may not even notice it right away, but they can scrape up your arms and legs pretty badly if you are not careful. Wearing long pants and sleeves can make a huge difference in protecting your body against scrapes and abrasions, but they may not always provide full coverage or complete protection. If you do find yourself sustaining a cut while you’re on the trail, make sure to apply an antibiotic lotion and band-aid to the affected area as soon as you get home, after washing it thoroughly. Keep an eye on it for a few days, and if it doesn’t seem to get any better, contact your primary physician as soon as possible to make sure it is not infected.

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