Avoiding Injury On the Hiking Trail
The advantages to outdoor adventuring are almost limitless: fresh air, beautiful scenery, communion with nature, wildlife sightings, character building…the list goes on and on, and will most certainly be different for everybody.
But outdoor excursions also carry some risks, so it is important that you not only prepare for the event of an accident, but that you do your best to consciously avoid any mishaps that you can. Since we don’t know the future, we can’t plan for everything, but a little forethought can go a long way to making sure you have a long future of outdoor adventures ahead of you!
If you wanted to go for a walk on a sunny tropical beach, you wouldn’t put on your wool socks and hiking boots, would you? Of course not. So if you’re going for a hike in the woods or through the desert, don’t wear your beach sandals. Inappropriate footwear can lead to all kinds of injury on the trail, including blisters, sunburn, stubbed toes, scrapes, and insect bites or stings. Don’t make the mistake of thinking flip-flops will work for any summer adventure — wear footwear that will protect your most important assets for outdoor activities!
Watch Your Step
Crashing around in bushes or otherwise untouched wilderness is a great way to pick up an injury. Even worse than that, you are risking destruction of important habitat for many forms of wildlife, small and large. When you go out on hiking trails, make sure you stay on the trail, or at least follow a path of least resistance. Bites, stings, scratches, and cuts are just some of the rewards you’ll get for being a trailblazer in an area that’s not designated for human traffic. It’s wise to keep a steady eye on your footing as well, so you don’t take a flying leap over that big rock in the middle of the trail, or twist your ankle stepping into a hole.
Prepare Your Body
Temperature and pest control are luxuries you just won’t have in the outdoors, but you can prepare your body to deal with these things. UV rays are present even on cloudy days, so always make sure you apply sunscreen on your face, neck, arms, and any other exposed areas of skin before you set out. Insect repellent should be your next application, on your clothes as well as your skin. If it’s a somewhat chilly day, be sure to dress in lightweight layers that will keep you insulated from the cold without being bulky. If the sun starts to come out or the wind dies down, you’ll have several options for clothing removal that will suit whatever the weather calls for. And of course, stay hydrated. Dehydration is serious business, and something most people don’t consider when they think of possible outdoor injuries. A hydrated body is a well-functioning machine that will see you through any number of circumstances!
Know Your Limits
Remember how annoying it was when your parents would admonish you with, “If all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you do it too?” Well, now that we’re all grown up, it’s high time we took this question seriously. If you haven’t been on so much as a walk through the neighborhood in a few years, you probably shouldn’t suddenly decide you’re going on a mountaineering trip. Many outdoor injuries are caused by a sheer lack of common sense, or people extending beyond their abilities. That’s not to say you shouldn’t try new things, or try to achieve some adventurous goals — just be realistic about it, and you’ll surely avoid many unnecessary injuries!