Although all walkers are susceptible to injuries during a walk the vast majority of injuries happen to those who are not used to walking or hiking and only venture out occasionally, perhaps when they’re on holiday, for example, as they will be using muscles and pushing their bodies in a way they’re not used to doing. Alternatively, injuries will occur due to lack of preparation or poorly fitting footwear. Sometimes they will experience pain straight away but some injuries may not manifest themselves until some weeks later.
Below is a description of some of the more common injuries that happen to walkers and hikers.
Achilles Pain, Calf, Thigh and Knee Strain
These types of injuries are more likely to occur if you’re out hill climbing or fell walking. When walking either up or down hilly terrain, you are more likely to place greater emphasis on your forefoot to gain grip and control which pushes your heel to drop too low inside your boot and there is far greater pressure on your thigh and knee muscles when going uphill or downhill. There are, however, several techniques you can adopt for uphill and downhill hiking which can reduce the risk of suffering these kinds of injuries.
A sudden outwards rolling movement of the ankle can often result in a sprain. This can be very painful which is the result of a damaged ligament on the outside of the ankle which culminates in bruising, swelling and reduced movement. As long as the bone structures have not been disturbed, treatment will usually consist of an ice application, compression and elevation at the acute stage followed by rest. Within about 3 days, you should be able to do some gentle stretching and balancing exercises and a heat application can also help.
Pains in the shin are one of the most common forms of walking injury. They can be caused by poor footwear, incorrect walking techniques and walking on uneven, undulating surfaces such as hilly or rocky terrain. Correct techniques and proper tailored footwear will have the biggest impact in reducing the likelihood of you suffering from shin splints. As for treatment, ice, anti-inflammatory medication and rest are recommended.
These are more commonly associated with overtraining and pushing yourself beyond reasonable limits. Bone tissue breaks down gradually when it is subject to physical activity and has to regenerate itself. However, if you don’t allow sufficient time for this and keep pushing yourself beyond the recommended limits, small cracks can start appearing in the foot and shin areas. Walking on hard surfaces, poor nutrition alongside inadequate rest and recuperation will all contribute to increasing the risk of stress fractures. Rest and ice are the best treatment and, once the pain has subsided, resumption of training is possible but it’s better to start off with less ‘impact’ exercises such as cycling and swimming first of all.
These are usually the result of ill fitting boots or shoes and socks that do not absorb moisture adequately. Applying blister creams and keeping pressure of the area affected is the best form of treatment.
These are a lump on the joint of your big toe and also caused by inadequate footwear. They’re not always painful but if they become a problem, you can buy insoles to improve the position and cushioning of the foot but you should also ensure that your footwear is well fitting initially.
Corns and Calluses
These are thickened layers of the skin and affect your toes and feet. Cream applications are the best form of treatment but in all these instances of foot problems, the common factor to all is that they are likely to be a result of inadequate footwear or how you move your feet when you walk or hike. This is often referred to as ‘foot biomechanics’ and can often be corrected by a podiatrist.