You might be surprised to read that as far as sporting injuries are concerned, hiking-related issues are quite common. A lot of the issues we treat can be put down to the mishaps that have occurred while people have been hiking and tramping so we are quite experienced in this area.
Now that winter is here, there’ll be no shortage of patients! While most hiking injuries occur in the summer months simply because more people do this activity in summer, there are still a lot of outdoor enthusiasts who like to get out and about in winter. Trails and hiking paths are less crowded and there’s a change of scenery to enjoy as well, particularly in the snow-covered alpine regions where photo opportunities abound. But in cooler and wetter conditions, the ground underfoot can be slippery and treacherous and this is the cause of so many of the injuries we treat.
80% of hiking or tramping related injuries are soft tissue injuries involving the muscles, ligaments and tendons. Lacerations make up 10%, with fractures responsible for another 6%. The most common causes are slips (38%), twisted ankles or knees (19%), falls (17%) and trips (13%). Interestingly, 5% of hiking injuries are caused by carrying too heavy a load which can cause severe back, hip and leg pain.
A lot of injuries can be avoided in the great outdoors. For example, if conditions are treacherous and tricky from the moment you set out, head back to the car! There’ll always be another day and the risk of injuring yourself and being stranded is too great to ignore. And with slips being the most common cause of injury, along with twisted knees and ankles, your choice of footwear needs to be looked at. Always invest in the best boots you can afford, even if you are doing a hike on a dry and sunny day when underfoot conditions are expected to be good. With New Zealand’s unpredictable conditions, what we expect and what we get can be two very different things.
Of course, as with any activity, injuries can occur no matter how well prepared you are. That’s why we’re here to promptly and efficiently treat any sporting injuries, be they on the football field, netball court or halfway up a hill in the middle of nowhere. So, if hiking hurts, contact us. We’ll know what to do and we’ll help you get back into the great outdoors again.