While many of the most common hiking-related maladies -- blisters, dehydration and strains -- seem relatively minor in nature, they can easily derail a perfectly good day of hiking and leave you stuck on the couch feeling blue for the rest of the day, or even the rest of the weekend.
Follow the steps below to swiftly treat any minor injuries sustained while hiking, and be well on the road to recovery for your next outing:
Blisters: If you feel a blister coming on -- also known as a “hotspot” -- or one has already formed on your foot, take a pit stop to treat it.
Cleanse your hands, put on some protective gloves and carefully clean the area with a cleansing wipe. If the blister has already formed, drain it by carefully piercing it with a sterile needle. Do not remove the blistered skin.
Create a moleskin “donut” -- a piece of moleskin with a blister-sized hole cut out of the middle -- to act as a buffer between the blister or the hotspot and your boots. This will keep the friction and aggravation from continuing to irritate your sensitive skin.
If you’re worried about it staying in place, use athletic tape to hold in place the outer edges of the “donut.”
Once you’ve treated the blister, be sure to change into fresh socks, and be on your way.
Dehydration: When hiking, you can be at risk of dehydration due to heat exposure and overexertion. The symptoms of dehydration can range from increased thirst to dizziness to headache to dark urine.
If you begin to notice signs of dehydration, immediately take a rest in the shade. Sip some water, and eat some nuts and dried fruit to replenish electrolytes and nutrients. Give yourself ample time to recover.
Strains:Strains can be caused by under-preparing and over-extending yourself.
Treat a strain with compression, ice and elevation, and when you’re ready, head back home so you can do more of the same.
Note that each of these maladies can often be prevented, and take the proper steps to avoid them in the future:
To ward off blisters, be sure you’re wearing hiking boots that fit properly, along with synthetic, moisture-wicking socks. Bring along extra socks to change into, and be sure to immediately empty any debris -- sand, pebbles, etc. -- you notice in your shoes.
Avoid dehydration by taking regular breaks on hot or strenuous hikes, and by consuming plenty of water and healthful snacks.
As for strains, you can help to prevent those by knowing your physical limits -- and respecting those limits -- and by adequately warming up before a hike. Going too hard, too fast is a sure route to injury, so ease into things to keep yourself in good condition.