Common Hiking Injuries and How to Prevent Them: Insights from Physiotherapy in North Vancouver
Published on May 20, 2024
Hiking Injuries

Hiking in North Vancouver offers some of the most stunning trails in British Columbia, with destinations like Grouse Mountain and Quarry Rock drawing both locals and tourists alike. These trails, while beautiful, come with their share of risks, particularly if you are unprepared for the physical demands of steep ascents and rugged terrains. Here’s a closer look at some common hiking injuries that occur on North Vancouver trails and practical advice from physiotherapy to help prevent them.

 

1. Ankle Sprains

What They Are: A sprain is a small tear within a ligament, which is a connective tissue between two bones. Ankle sprains can be divided into high-ankle sprains and low-ankle sprains. Within the low ankle sprain category, it can further be separated into medial and lateral ankle sprains, with lateral ankle sprains being far more common.

Prevention Tips:

  • Choose the right footwear: Invest in hiking boots that offer robust ankle support and have aggressive tread for better grip.
  • Train and strengthen: Before tackling the trails, strengthen your ankles with exercises such as heel drops and toe raises.
  • Use hiking poles: These can help maintain balance on the uneven steps and roots commonly found on the way to Grouse Mountain.

2. Knee Pain

What It Is: Knee pain can occur from many common conditions such as patellofemoral pain syndrome, patellar tendinopathies, quadriceps strains, bursitis, and more. To properly diagnose your knee pain it is important to consult a health professional.

Prevention Tips:

  • Build leg strength: Strengthen your quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves to support and stabilize the knees.
  • Wear knee braces if needed: These can provide additional support and reduce strain, especially on steep descents.
  • Adopt proper hiking techniques: Use a slow, controlled pace with shorter steps to decrease the impact on your knees when going downhill.

3. Blisters

What They Are: Blisters are a frequent complaint among hikers, especially on longer, challenging trails where friction from prolonged walking can occur.

Prevention Tips:

  • Wear the right socks: Opt for moisture-wicking socks that fit well to reduce friction.
  • Prepare your feet: Use blister prevention tapes on areas prone to blisters.
  • Choose well-fitting footwear: Ensure your hiking boots are broken in and comfortable before embarking on a hike.

4. Muscle Cramps

What They Are: Cramps can strike during an intense climb or while navigating undulating terrain, often due to dehydration or electrolyte imbalances.

Prevention Tips:

  • Hydrate adequately: Carry enough water and consider electrolyte supplements for longer treks.
  • Stretch and warm-up: Prioritize both pre- and post-hike stretching to keep muscles flexible and responsive.
  • Pace yourself: Listen to your body, and don’t push beyond your current level of fitness, especially on strenuous climbs.

5. Lower Back Pain

What It Is: Carrying a heavy backpack and hiking for long periods, especially up steep inclines can lead to lower back pain. Similar to knee pain, lower back pain is multi-faceted and needs to be properly diagnosed by your healthcare provider.

Prevention Tips:

  • Strengthen your core: Incorporate core-strengthening exercises into your routine to better support your lower back.
  • Pack smart: Use a well-fitted backpack and pack only the essentials to keep the load light.
  • Maintain proper posture: Keep your back straight and shoulders back; adjust your pack so that the weight is evenly distributed.

Conclusion

Hiking in North Vancouver’s breathtaking landscapes is a rewarding experience that, with the right precautions, can be enjoyed without the discomfort of common hiking injuries. By preparing with appropriate gear, training, and body awareness, you can tackle trails from Quarry Rock to Grouse Mountain safely. Remember, regular check-ins with a physiotherapist can further enhance your hiking experience by keeping your body well-tuned for the challenges of the trail. Enjoy your adventure in the great outdoors with confidence!

Subscribe to our newsletter