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Physiotherapy for a Healthy Season of Hiking

2020/06/05 Home Education and advice

Physiotherapy for a Healthy Season of Hiking

Quebec has over 6,000 km of trails to explore. Every year, hiking grows in popularity: good for the body and the soul, it is an activity that can be practiced by anyone, regardless of physical shape, thanks to the different levels of trails. Proper preparation, however, is always helpful in reducing the risk of injury.

Main injuries related to Hiking

Although the risk of injury is generally lower than in other sports, certain injuries, pain or discomfort may appear suddenly or gradually over the course of the hike:

  • Pain, inflammation and irritation of the femoro-patellar joint
  • Twisted ankles
  • Achilles tendinopathy
  • Spinal-lumbar sprain
  • Gluteal tendinopathy
  • Sprain / hip pain
  • Neck sprain / pain
  • Shoulder and elbow tendonitis

What are the possible causes of such injuries?

The most common causes of injury are due to overuse, muscle weakness, poor motor control, or poor movement. The level of difficulty of the trail and inadequate equipment are also common causes of injury while hiking. In addition, there is always a risk of falls or strains caused by slippery and unstable surfaces.

What are the signs that you should consult a professional?

It is normal to feel muscle fatigue after a hike, especially at the start of the season or after a long distance hike.

Whether during or after the hike, regular pain or discomfort is never normal. It is, however, still normal to feel aches and pains during the 24 to 48 hour period after a day of hiking.

If you observe any of the symptoms below, it is recommended to consult a therapist:

  • You are unable to stand on an ankle, even resting
  • You experience severe pain in the Achilles tendon when you are active
  • You experience body pain or pain in a specific part of ​​the body
  • You are still stiff for several days after a hike, even if you have not made any changes in the duration or intensity of the activity
  • You feel unusually tired after your hike

An injury that is not treated quickly may take longer to heal.

Even if you don’t experience any of these symptoms, meeting a physiotherapist can help you perform better. During the session, the therapist will:

  • Analyze your health, injury history, sports habits
  • Evaluate the mobility and flexibility of muscles and joints necessary for hiking
  • Evaluate the movements made while hiking
  • Correct movements when necessary
  • Provide exercises to work on the mobility, flexibility, strength and endurance of muscles and joints
  • Provide exercises to reduce the risk of injury

More specific physiotherapy treatments may be offered, as well as massage therapy, occupational therapy, osteopathy, kinesiology or nutrition sessions.

Who can benefit from a session with a physiotherapist?

All hikers, regardless of age and level of experience, may consult a physiotherapist, whether as a method of prevention or treatment.

A session with a physiotherapist is recommended for those who:

  • Wish to improve their hiking performance
  • Aim to achieve specific objectives (eg: a long-term hike, a sporting challenge, etc.)
  • Feel discomfort or pain during or after a hike
  • Want to return to hiking after an injury or a long break

What advice or treatment can be offered to hikers?

The advice, treatments and services offered to hiking enthusiasts depend very much on the individual, their physical condition and their needs.

For example, the therapist can provide advice on:

  • Maintaining good posture
  • The proper execution of movements
  • The proper equipment for the individual
  • Injury prevention
  • Pain management during and after the hike
  • Using taping to stabilize a muscle or joint
  • The creation of an exercise program
  • Preparation tips for a day of hiking

Kinatex: A Multidisciplinary Team

If necessary, meetings with a sports doctor, an occupational therapist, a nutritionist, an osteopath or a kinesiologist can also be added to your program. If you already have a personal trainer, we will be happy to work with them as well.

Authors:

  • Marie-Claude Poirier, T.R.P. Kinatex Saint-Bruno
  • Arianne Laroche, Pht. Kinatex Saint-Bruno

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