I’m currently going to Physical Therapy for gluteal tendonitis in my left leg. While it’s nothing serious and I’ll be back in action by the end of October, it’s given me time to reflect on some ways to cope with and help prevent injury while on trail.
1.) Use Trekking Poles- An essential part of most distance hikers’ gear a “study published in the January 2007 issue of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise®, the official scientific journal of the American College of Sports Medicine, recommends using hiking poles to reduce forces on the lower extremity joints, whether or not hikers are carrying an external load.” The Appalachian Trail Conservancy also acknowledges the health benefits of trekking poles, citing several different health studies in a recent impact report.
2.) The Handball ball hack- One thing I like to carry if I’m hiking with a bit of tension or a slight injury is a handball ball. You can get a 12 pack on Amazon for about $14 . They’re light weight and small enough to tuck almost anywhere. In camp I use them like a little therapy tool to work out any kinks or just roll on the soles of my feet to relieve some knots.
3.) The Nalgene roller- Smartwater and squeeze filters are all the rage right now. And don’t get me wrong, I carry them, but I also like carrying a Nalgene. One of the underutilized features of the bottle is that it can function like a foam roller in a pinch. It’s also nice to fill with hot water and use like a hot pad.
4.) Lighten up- Going lighter is often a backpacking goal, if you’re more a camper or someone willing to carry a larger pack for creature comforts (read: coffee) consider cutting down while injured or lighten up the mileage and do smaller day and weekend hikes that don’t require as many supplies.
5.) Load right- Loading a pack isn’t just about stuffing things in until they fit. Packing correctly ensures the weight is displaced across the body and no muscle or muscle group is doing more work than it should. Here’s a quick guide from NYC outfitters Tent & Trails that gives a nice explanation.
This list is just the beginning of self-care tips and tricks hikers have. Feel free to share your own in the comments or shoot us a message, I’m always excited to learn something new!