It’s always satisfying to get away from it all, both for the mind and the body. That’s why cottaging is almost a national sport in Canada and our country’s national parks are revered. Part of the allure of being active in the great outdoor is that you don’t need to be an athlete to enjoy Mother Nature’s gym. You can get some good exercise while enjoying the scenery and spending time with family and friends. While many of these nature-based activities are low-impact and suitable for almost every level of fitness, that doesn’t mean they’re without risk. Injuries can occur, flare up or worsen, which would definitely put a damper on your quality time with nature. We’ve put together a guide to preventing and managing injury for 3 of the most popular outdoor activities in North America.
Outdoor Activity #1 – Fishing
Fishing provides the perfect conditions for overuse injuries because of the repetitive movements involved and poor body mechanics that afflict so many people. Injuries to the wrist, elbow and shoulder are common. Knee and ankle injuries from being active on an unsteady boat are also a risk.
Treating a day or week-long fishing trip like other outdoor activities can help you avoid injury. Make sure to stretch before heading out and incorporate strengthening exercises into your daily routine to make sure the muscles in your upper body are ready for the stress put on them. Alternate sitting and standing and switch your grip and casting style throughout the day. Take frequent breaks and do small, active stretching exercises. Lastly, it may be a good idea to invest in an orthopaedic brace or athletic compression tape for your wrist, shoulder or back to reduce stress on these areas of your body and speed the recovery of your muscles and joints.
If you are having second thoughts about your next fishing trip because of a nagging injury, there are plenty of options you can try to help put your mind and body at ease. Again, knee and ankle injuries are common in fishing, so if you have bad knees or a painful ankle, give an orthopaedic brace a shot. It will help keep your joint stable amidst the rolling waters and rocking boat and especially when you are reeling in the big one.
Outdoor Activity # 2 – Hiking
Hiking is a fun outdoor activity with lots of potential for big payoffs, but also with lots of potential for big injuries. Blisters, knee pain, back pain and foot pain are the most common ailments that hit hikers of all experience levels.
Preparation is the key to prevention when going for a hike, whether it’s a short, 15-minute jaunt or a day-long trek. Taping your feet or any other body part that may develop a blister is an effective way to keep this ailment at bay. Stretching your quadriceps, hamstring muscles and hips can minimize tension on your knees and lower back. Investing in trekking poles, a decent backpack and supportive shoes will also help to reduce the risk of injury by providing better weight distribution as you walk. You can find other tips on preparing for a hike here.
If you are recovering from an existing injury or ailment, but just can’t ignore the call of Mother Nature, there are a variety of supports you can use to ensure you are pain-free and don’t make injuries worse while you hike. A common aid for foot pain and injuries, such as plantar fasciitis, is athletic tape or special braces and socks. These orthopaedic supports help reduce pain during and after a hike. Back braces, knee braces and shoulder braces can be used to mitigate the stress on your body as you carry a heavy pack and to stabilize your joints as you walk over bumpy and risky terrain.
Outdoor Activity #3 – Camping
Camping may seem like a harmless outdoor activity to share with family, friends or by yourself, but there is a significant risk that you could hurt yourself or turn a simple ache into a full-blown injury while enjoying the great outdoors. Back pain, shoulder pain, cuts and burns are all common injuries that you can sustain during a camping trip.
Stretching is the common denominator among all these injury prevention tips. Maintaining an active and dynamic stretching regimen between camping trips keeps your body agile and not as prone to injury when doing common camping tasks such as pitching a tent or starting a fire. Having the proper equipment is also a prevention prerequisite. Comfortable clothes, proper footwear and up-to-date gear, such as a good air mattress, will go a long way to preventing aches, pains and dangerous mishaps.
You will definitely be thankful for investing in a back brace when you wake up in the morning stiff and achy from a night of sleeping in a tent. There’s a lot of bending and leaning that goes on when camping and having a brace to support your back muscles is crucial to managing any pain or injury you might pick up along the way. Having a first aid kit stocked and nearby with bandages, tape, splints, orthopaedic wraps, small braces and pain relief items like analgesics is a must as well to treat burns, cuts, fractures or sprains that happen around the campsite.