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Six Prevention Tips to Avoid Hiking Injuries

Hiking on our Sierra Nevada trails, and even around our county parks, is great exercise and great fun, especially if you keep yourself safe and injury-free.
Before heading out, make sure that you are physically capable of going on a hike. If you suffer from arthritis or other joint conditions, check with your doctor first. If given the green light, here are a few tips that will reduce your risk of knee pain after hiking, as well as more severe hiking-induced injuries, keeping your outdoor exploits enjoyable experiences.


Even the most experienced hikers can get blisters on their feet. Unfamiliar terrain and inclines add more stress to footgear. Wear sturdy shoes that fit well (not flip flops or sandals) and performance sports socks. Found in any sporting goods store, performance socks are made of wicking material, fit snugly (loose material bunches up) and may have extra cushion.

Skin Injuries

Another common injury on hiking trails is skinned knees or elbows that occur when we neglect to watch the ground or our surroundings. Tree roots and loose rocks can cause slips and falls and branches can scrape the face and neck. You can always pack a small first-aid kit, but being aware of your surroundings is #1.

Joint Injury

You can do more than skin up a knee if you trip or slip on the trail. Sprained ankles and knee injuries can result from a fall on uneven terrain. Strive for prevention through attention – note your surroundings and step with care because limping back or having to be carried a few miles to civilization is a drag (literally!). However, if you experience persistent ankle or knee pain after hiking, it is recommended that you consult with an orthopedic specialist to determine appropriate treatment, so that you can comfortably resume activity.

Insect Bites

We are pretty lucky when it comes to bugs in the high desert, but depending on where your hike takes you, you can run into any manner of flying, stinging creatures. Apply bug spray if hiking near water or in any area you know has biting insects. If you have a severe insect allergy, you should always carry appropriate emergency medicine (i.e. epi pen).


Sunburn is always a danger in the High Sierra, even on a cloudy day. Always apply sunscreen before you begin your hike, and re-apply sunscreen periodically during the day. Pay special attention to re-application after sweating a lot or getting wet in streams or lakes.


We live in a dry climate and dehydration can happen faster than you think, even on a short hike. Prehydrate, or drink before you start. Many experts say to drink 8 ounces every mile, with water at the end of the hike. Wearing a Camelbac-style hydration system is one of the easiest ways to carry a volume of water. Lastly, don’t forget about post-hike recovery. Your body may need some time to recover after a particularly strenuous hike. If you experience any severe issues after hiking, such as persistent knee pain or a sprain, it is recommended that you consult a doctor. However, many hiking injuries are minor and can luckily be treated at home with some TLC. Aftersun gels are a great way to reduce discomfort from any minor sunburns, while blisters and scrapes can be treated by keeping the area clean and using an antibacterial ointment to prevent infection.
The team at Great Basin Orthopaedics specializes in joint care, including knee, ankle, and foot care, offering a variety of treatments and therapies to meet individual needs. If your outdoor activities result in injury such as hip or knee pain after hiking, you can reach our specialists by calling 775.786.1600. You will get both an accurate diagnosis and a treatment plan designed to get you back to doing what you love.
Now, get out there and enjoy the great outdoors.