Safe Hiking Tips for Summer Fun
Summit sports medicine physician Kirk Scofield, M.D., helps you get outdoors with safe hiking tips for summer.
Outdoor activities are one of the absolute best things about Minnesota in the summer. Getting out and enjoying the parks and trails around the state is a great idea. Before you do, however, make sure to read up on safe hiking tips to prevent injury.
Kirk Scofield, M.D., one of Summit’s team of sports medicine physicians, loves to hike and backpack in his spare time. He knows how much fun hiking can be — as well as how hiking can cause or worsen injuries. “With hiking, you want to watch out for ankle sprains, falls, overuse injuries, and knee injuries. If you already have mild arthritis, it can flare up on a hike if you’re not careful. And depending how remote your location is, getting back home could be a challenge” if you’re injured, Dr. Scofield said.
Safe hiking tip 1: evaluate the terrain
First, assess the kind of terrain you’ll encounter on your hike. Will it be a well-traveled dirt path, or will you be clambering over rocky outcrops and blazing a trail through the wilderness? “There are so many variables with terrain,” Dr. Scofield said. Knowing ahead of time what you’ll encounter can make it easier for you to prepare adequately.
Safe hiking tip 2: Use poles
Hiking poles are a great way to make sure you stay on your feet during a hike. They can help you keep your balance and can provide a little more leverage during steep portions of the hike. “If you haven’t tried hiking poles, I’d encourage you to consider it, particularly if you’re prone to ankle or knee injury,” Dr. Scofield said.
Safe hiking tip 3: Consider your footwear
If you’ve had repeated ankle sprains in the past — which would put you at a higher risk of having another one — it might be smart to wear a light ankle brace while on your hike. Choosing appropriate footwear is also key.
“You want your footwear to be as light as possible — you don’t want boots that are too big and heavy. At the same time, you want something with a more substantial sole than a tennis shoe, which isn’t made to walk over stones and is too soft for hiking,” Dr. Scofield said. If you haven’t been to an outdoor equipment store for a while, you might be surprised to see how many lightweight hiking and trail running footwear options are available.
Safe hiking tip 4: Prepare and follow common-sense precautions
Always make sure someone knows where you’re going, and notify that person when you get back. Don’t assume you’ll have cellphone coverage — take a map on paper, not just on your phone. Follow the same outdoor safety tips you would during any activity: wear sunscreen, take plenty of water, and wear light-colored clothing to reflect the heat.
Most of all, Dr. Scofield said, “enjoy the hike!”
Summit Orthopedics supports healthy lifestyles
Summit Orthopedics is proud of our fellowship-trained subspecialty teams offering the full spectrum of orthopedic expertise in bone, tendon, ligament, muscle, and joint conditions.
Start your journey to a healthier, more active self. Find your orthopedic expert, request an appointment online, or call us at (651) 968–5201 to schedule a consultation.
More resources for you:
- Read about how to avoid foot pain.
- Get some more hiking advice from Summit experts.
- Check out our summer safety tips for kids.
- Find out how to exercise safely in the summer heat.
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