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  1. #1
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    Default Injury Prevention

    Hi all! I'm attempting to thru hike the AT this year and am a blogger for Appalachian Trials run by Class of 2011 Zach Davis. I am working on a post talking about common injuries associated with long distance hiking and preventative exercises you can do in hopes of avoiding said common injuries.

    What is your experience with injuries on trail?
    What are the most common injuries on trail? (I'm thinking along the lines of shin splints, plantar fasciitis, etc.)
    Are there any exercises/stretches you swear by?

    Any input would be greatly appreciated! Thanks much.

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    Self diagnosed or Dr diagnosed? From reading TJ my guess is that the most common Dr found injury on the trail is stress fractures to the feet.

  3. #3
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    I'd think ankle and knee sprains would be high on that list.
    Plantar Fasciitis is one I personally know about, having done exercises and ice treatments for months.
    Had it injected also.
    Getting lost is a way to find yourself.

  4. #4
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    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.

  5. #5
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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.
    Great indepth analysis and precautionary trail wisdom there buzzard.
    Getting lost is a way to find yourself.

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    Mine were infected blisters, major foot trauma and two dislocated shoulders.

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    Shin splints from hiking a) too many miles b) too fast early on. Easy to prevent (slow down, don't hike as far), but once you have them RICE them: rest, ice, compression, elevation. Compression probably isn't realistic for shin splints, but the other 3 aspects of "rice"ing are. Stretching may help, too.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarathonGirl14 View Post
    Shin splints from hiking a) too many miles b) too fast early on. Easy to prevent (slow down, don't hike as far), but once you have them RICE them: rest, ice, compression, elevation. Compression probably isn't realistic for shin splints, but the other 3 aspects of "rice"ing are. Stretching may help, too.
    Just wondering... are you a PT

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    Or are you giving advice based on experiance. Shin splint suck

  10. #10
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    The folks I saw on the trail with shin splints were busting out big miles. I never had an issue.
    Fear ridges that are depicted as flat lines on a profile map.

  11. #11
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    No. I'm not a physical therapist. I am an experienced marathoner and have had shin splints from violating said rules of starting slow and low mileage. I have also developed shin splints from violating said rules as a hiker. I have also avoided developing shin splints by following the rules both as a runner and a hiker. So, I speak from experience.

  12. #12

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    This is a useful thread. Good posts.

    My wife developed infected shins in Maine, probably from smashing them too often. This was different from shin splints and she had to go off the trail at WHL. She returned two years later to do MT K.

    We met a lot of hikers who got lymes disease from ticks. Difficult to diagnose because symptoms are same as effects of hiking.

    A lot of hikers who let their hygiene go end up with stomach bugs, so to speak...

    Injuries from falls are extremely common.

  13. #13
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    Hey, bring a compression wrap with you to get inflammation down at the end of each day. You can recover from injuries before you go on your hike using blood flow stimulators (BFST) which stimulate your body's natural healing process bringing oxygen and nutrients to the tendon and ligaments. Make sure you stretch every morning, stretching should be done very gently, especially if you already have an injury.

    Hope this helps!
    Kyle

    www.kingbrand.com/BFST-Home.php?REF=52PV16

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    Much of it boils (so to speak) down to "take care of your skin." Skin is your largest organ. As mentioned above, sunburn, blisters, stove burns, boils, rashes, insect stings and bites, and cold injuries can make an otherwise fun hike miserable, or even end it.

    Good nutrition, hydration, and rest are also way up there in prevention.

    As far as stretching goes, I must have been doing it wrong because after I stopped stretching, I stopped getting sprains and strains. I just start out walking slowly.

    As far as exercises, I hear it's a good idea to train to walk between 30 and 60% of your planned mileage per day. If you walk 5 miles daily normally, 15 per day on the AT shouldn't hurt you. But 20+ probably will. You might need to slowly ramp up the miles, a week or two at a time, if you're somewhat sedentary at the start of the AT, which many are.
    "Throw a loaf of bread and a pound of tea in an old sack and jump over the back fence." John Muir on expedition planning

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    I have encountered more people suffering or getting off trail with knee issues than anything else.

    Start slow. And then slow down some more

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    Quote Originally Posted by RockDoc View Post
    ... We met a lot of hikers who got lymes disease from ticks. Difficult to diagnose because symptoms are same as effects of hiking....
    Symptoms vary. About 60% develop the characteristic "bullseye" rash" and also have the same symptoms as 40% who don't develop the rash: fatigue, slight fever, general malaise. These are similar to flu symptoms. Later stages of the infection have very serious symptoms. There is good info on Lyme posted here. Check it out.
    Handlebar
    GA-ME 06; PCT 08; CDT 10,11,12; ALT 11; MSPA 12; CT 13; Sheltowee 14; AZT 14, 15; LT 15;FT 16;NCT-NY&PA 16; GET 17-18

  17. #17
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    Thanks for all of the posts everyone - I am learning a lot. Knees, feet/shins and skin are the three that seem to be a common theme. I will definitely research a bit more on these areas before publishing my post. If anyone wants to add input to my blog post or be featured, let me know and I can make it happen.
    Happy trails!

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    Quote Originally Posted by akieley View Post
    Thanks for all of the posts everyone - I am learning a lot. Knees, feet/shins and skin are the three that seem to be a common theme. I will definitely research a bit more on these areas before publishing my post. If anyone wants to add input to my blog post or be featured, let me know and I can make it happen.
    Happy trails!
    My post is live! Thanks for your help. http://blog.appalachiantrials.com/fi...oiding-injury/

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