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Nick P

Injury Prevention

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Quote Originally Posted by 4eyedbuzzard View Post
Common injuries? Probably the following:

Blisters - keep feet as dry as possible and toenails trimmed, immediate care of any foot "hot spots" can help prevent blisters - use Leukotape(good stuff) or moleskin/duct tape, proper fitting of shoes and good socks can go a long way towards prevention, carry a blister kit anyway. Once a blister forms, it usually needs to be drained from the side and bandaged with tape in order to continue hiking. Even then, the best cure is resting the feet and letting it heal.

Leg and joint injuries (knees, ankles, hips, feet) - "start slow, then slow down". A lot of thru-hikers overdo it out of the gate leading to sore and weak muscles which can add to the chance of injury. Take it easy on the downhills also - they put a hurting on the knee joints. Watch where you place your feet - many rolled ankles (and slips/falls) from this. Being in reasonable physical and aerobic health will help, and general core exercises and stretching are probably the best bet for preventing injuries, but after several weeks of hiking every day most hikers will start to get trail hardened. It's a very hard activity to actually "train for", but obviously walking and things like climbing stairs can help.

Falls (various injuries) - the trail can be very slippery, from rocks, roots, mud, stream crossings, snow, ice, etc. Paying attention to foot placement (and perhaps use of a staff or poles) could avoid many of these slip and falls. Trying to hike too fast is also mentioned by many who fall.

Burns from stoves and campfires and hot food/drink are common. Learn to use your stove and how to eat and handle pots, etc in the woods before departing. It's not as intuitive as it sounds. You can pick out a novice in seconds by watching them make meals.

Dehydration, sunburn, hyperthermia, hypothermia, poison ivy, insect stings, and tick borne diseases also occur. Prevention is pretty easy to figure out on most of these. Keep hydrated, use sunscreen before leaf out and in the Whites, control body temp with layering and don't get soaked especially in cold weather, learn to identify and avoid certain plants and insects (use of politically incorrect repellents like DEET and permethrin treated clothing helps a lot with mosquitos and ticks.).

Food/water borne pathogens - filtering and/or treating (chem/UV, etc) water can help, but many do nothing and don't get ill. Probably a good prevention technique though. The single best thing you can do in the woods to not get ill is, just like at home, to keep your hands as clean as possible. Wash and/or use hand sanitizer before eating, cooking, drinking, etc. Don't dip (or let other dip in yours) or touch in others bag of gorp or food, rinse cookware well, etc. Most illness is spread from humans to other humans (hikers) via oral-oral or fecal-oral routes, not by tainted water or restaurant food. Stay clear of obviously sick people (like in shelters) hacking up lung oysters.
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