Preparing for your next hike?

Erik Dean, DO, a sports medicine specialist and independent member of the HonorHealth Medical Staff, shares seven tips to help you stay safe on your next hike.

  1. Pre-train. Focus on single-leg exercises and balance to improve your strength and stability. Prior to starting your hike, walk around the parking lot or do some leg swings to increase blood flow to the muscles and joints.
  2. Hydrate before, during and after. Pre-hydrate 30 minutes to an hour prior to hiking, and make sure you have enough water with you to account for the weather and length of your hike. As long as you don’t have hypertension, it’s also important to have a sports drink or add electrolyte supplements to your water before and after hiking.
  3. Invest in footwear. It’s crucial you have firm sole supportive footwear such as a sneaker with hiking treads or hiking boots.
  4. Pay attention at all times. While hiking is often a social event, you still need to be mindful of the uneven terrain, as slips, trips and falls are more common if you aren’t paying attention or are distracted by your phone.
  5. Be aware of snakes. Constantly evaluate your surroundings, as snakes may be on the trail, especially from late March through late May. What happens if you see one? Back away slowly and don’t use a stick or rock to disturb the snake. You need at least five to 10 feet to safely get around a snake.
  6. Stay alert when going downhill. Falls are more common when going downhill. Why? You are moving with more speed and your body weight is providing seven to 10 times greater force versus going uphill.
  7. Avoid eating at least an hour prior to a hike. During exercise, your blood flow moves away from your stomach and to your muscle groups so digestion is slowed significantly. If you eat close to physical activity, you may experience an upset stomach, nausea or cramps.
Four HonorHealth patients go on a hike

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