Hiking is an incredibly rewarding activity. Being out in nature, breathing fresh air, and feeling your muscles move are just some of the benefits. But with the increased difficulty of hiking comes the risk of Achilles tendonitis. If you’re planning on scaling some more ambitious heights, it’s important to know how to protect yourself from this common injury.
Navigating New Heights
Hiking is one of the most popular outdoor activities in the world, and with good reason. It offers a way to see nature up close while also providing a great physical workout. For most hikers, the idea is to slowly increase difficulty over time. Eventually, you may even find yourself on a mountain peak, looking out at the world below.
It’s important to realize, however, that the increased difficulty of high altitude hiking can bring with it an increased risk of injury. One such injury is Achilles tendonitis, which can be debilitating and can keep you off of the trails for weeks or even months.
Is Achilles Tendonitis a Risk?
Achilles tendonitis is an overuse injury caused by repeated stress on the Achilles tendon, a band of tissue that connects the calf muscle to the heel bone. When the tendon is overworked, it can become inflamed and cause pain, making it difficult to walk or even stand for long periods of time.
The risk of Achilles tendonitis increases with high altitude hiking, due to the extra exertion that comes with climbing hills and steep slopes. The strain of carrying a heavier backpack can also increase the risk, as the extra weight puts additional pressure on the tendon.
Strategies for Safe Hiking
While the risk of Achilles tendonitis cannot be completely eliminated, there are several strategies you can use to reduce the likelihood of an injury.
- Start slow. It’s best to begin with shorter hikes of lower elevation and gradually increase the difficulty.
- Wear the right shoes. Make sure your hiking shoes fit properly and provide adequate cushioning and support.
- Stretch regularly. Give your muscles time to warm up and cool down with light stretches.
- Listen to your body. If you start to feel pain or discomfort, take a break and adjust your route.
- Keep your pack light. Pack only the essentials and avoid carrying too much weight.
High altitude hiking can be a rewarding and exhilarating experience, but it’s important to understand the risks of injuries like Achilles tendonitis. By taking the time to prepare and by following the tips above, you can safely and confidently tackle any trail.