Common Issues Faced When Walking
Whether it’s around the neighborhood, through the woods or down long country trails, walking or hiking is a great way to work out, unwind and explore the world around you. Walking is free, simple and easily evolves into a group activity.
However, as with many other activities, walking does carry with it some risks. Here are a few of the most common ones you may encounter, as well as steps you can take to keep yourself safe.
Blisters are among the most common types of injury sustained during longer walks. Friction between your feet and your footgear irritates the skin and eventually causes blisters to form. The best thing you can do to cut down on the formation of blisters is to make sure you have proper hiking shoes or boots that fit well.
Shoes that are too loose cause more rubbing across the skin with each step. Investing in performance or hiking socks, which tend to provide more cushion for your feet, can also keep blisters at bay.
When walking, a trip, fall or even a “bad step” can cause a painful joint injury before you know it. This is especially true when walking through the woods or across rough trails. Even a minor sprain makes a nature walk far less enjoyable. A significant injury can even leave you stranded.
The best way to avoid an injury like this is to pay close attention to your surroundings as you walk. Even carefully maintained trails can wash out or become covered with overgrown grass and vines. Avoid this kind of uneven terrain, or tread carefully if you can’t.
Muscle pains can be brought on by the continuous stress a long walk puts on the body. Not only does taking a long walk tire out our legs and feet, the constant use of these muscles and the impact with the ground can also lead to painful inflammation.
To prevent this, take breaks during your walk and get off your feet if possible. There are also a number of stretches you can do beforehand, focusing on the muscles that become overworked during a walk.
In some areas, such as the deep woods of northern Michigan, insect bites are a nearly unavoidable inconvenience when you hike. If you’re planning a walk in any area where biting or stinging insects are common, be sure to take insect repellent along with you. Also, if you have a known insect allergy, make sure your emergency medication is packed and readily available.
If you’re not adequately hydrated during your walk, dehydration can quickly turn into a life-threatening issue when you ignore the symptoms. Some early symptoms of dehydration include dry mouth, an increased thirst and fatigue.
A person suffering from severe dehydration may experience an inability to stand or walk due to dizziness, a drop in blood pressure, seizures and even coma. Make sure to bring plenty of water during your trip, as well as a hat and properly ventilated clothing in hotter climates. Children should be closely monitored for symptoms of dehydration because they are more susceptible to its effects.
While walking isn’t a particularly dangerous hobby, it isn’t without risk. One of the best things you can do to minimize the risks during a walk is to prepare ahead of time. It’s also a good idea to walk with a friend. Any of these or another hiking injury could go from inconvenience to incapacitating if you wind up alone and away from civilization.
And speaking of not walking alone, next we’ll be talking about how to get the family involved in walking.