Remmert Hinlopen is the owner and is a registered physiotherapist at FusionPhysio Chilliwack.

COLUMN: Tips for hiking season

Physiotherapist Remmert Hinlopen talks injury prevention on the trails

This season we have been lucky with some incredible weather and it’s clear that hiking season is in full swing.

Realistically, in British Columbia, one can hike year round but with the warm spring temperatures, the mountain passes became more accessible earlier, and hikers were heading out into the deeper and steeper terrain.

Before you start getting out and exploring the amazing backyard that the Fraser Valley has to offer, let’s sit back and talk about injury prevention. Having been a local physiotherapist and avid hiker for over 30 years, I would like to share a few life/work lessons to make sure your hiking experiences are happy ones for the entire season and many years to come. By being smart about what we do now, we can hopefully achieve more in the long term!

There are a few things that you should consider:

1. Get in hiking shape first by prepping yourself phy sically. This can simply be going on walks around the neighbourhood for longer periods of time, around an hour. After a few times around the block, add some hill repeats into your program. Stairs are also a great addition, lucky enough Promontory has a few sets for you to try.

2. Shoes! Good supportive shoes with a firm heel cup so your ankles and their muscles have to do less overtime work to balance on uneven terrain. Look for good shock absorbing qualities so there is less pressure on the joints. Proper size is also a must. Trust me, many have done hikes on plastic flip-flops or boat shoes and suffered for weeks after so please do ensure you wear proper shoes. Tighten your shoes laces properly; tighten them more for downhill and a little less tight for uphill but still a snug fit. By tightening them, you give yourself more stability in the ankle joint, which means less extra work for the muscles and less pressure on the knee and hips joints.

3. If you have to tackle a steep uphill or downhill part of the trail, traverse zig-zag, sideways or ess-shaped rather than tackling it straight on. This is essentially just making your own mini-switchbacks on wide trails and will constantly change the loading of your joints and reduce the chance of creating an overuse injury.

4. Change socks halfway. Dry socks reduce the chance of blisters and we all know how quickly blisters can ruin a good trip.

5. Stay hydrated to avoid cramping up. This is especially true on hot days. Water is most likely enough, but if you are out for long hours then a drink with electrolytes can be beneficial to replenish what you lose over time.

6. Last but not least, the benefits for using hiking poles!

a: Less loading on your knees. According to a study published on pub-med.gov, the compressive forces endured by the knees during downhill walking were three to four times greater when compared to level walking. Using poles can reduce the pressure on your hips, ankles and knees by 20 to 30 per cent during the hike. A few things come into play. First, you are unloading some of your body weight on your arms. Second, you are hiking more in an upright position, which is more an efficient way of loading the lower extremity joints. Third, by using the poles, you are more balanced, so your joints are taking less sideways pressure and therefore less strain, especially on the ankle and knees and also some into the hips.

b: They encourage core muscle usage because when pushing off with your poles you engage those core muscles at the same time automatically. Nice!

c: Using the poles can help fall prevention.

d: They will increase your walking tolerance and speed due to reduced pain and better efficiency.

e: To enjoy hiking for a long time, make sure you use them properly. This means about a 90 degrees bend in the elbow if you grip them with the ends touching the ground. Lower them a little when going uphill and extend them when going downhill. It will all depend on how steep the trail is of course.

Remmert Hinlopen is the owner and is a registered physiotherapist at FusionPhysio Chilliwack, www.fusionphysiochilliwack.com.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Voters in Saanich North and the Islands, here lining up outside Sidney’s Mary Winspear Centre on the first day of advanced voting. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
It’s Election Day in B.C.: Here’s what you need to know to vote

B.C.’s snap election has already broken records for advance voter turnout, mail-in ballots

Chilliwack-Kent MLA Laurie Throness watches the results on election night. The ex-Liberal’s tumultuous campaign and the narrow margin for victory ahead of the mail-in ballot count leaves the future of the riding’s seat in limbo for at least the next week. (Facebook/Laurie Throness)
B.C. VOTES 2020: Future for incumbent Throness uncertain as riding awaits results

Chilliwack-Kent candidate hopeful, resigned waiting on final count

The chair and vice chair of Chilliwack’s School Board, Dan Coulter and Willow Reichelt, at a Jan. 29, 2019 meeting. (Sarah Gawdin/ Chilliwack Progress)
Coulter confirms plan to resign from Chilliwack school board if elected

Dan Coulter says ‘it’s a little early’ to call the election, as mail-in votes wait to be counted

Two schools in Chilliwack have sent out notices to parents or been listed on the Fraser Health school exposure event website in the past week. (Pixabay)
Two Chilliwack schools send letters out regarding potential COVID-19 exposures

One public and one private school reporting mid-October exposure events

File Photo
COVID-19 outbreak declared at Agassiz Seniors Community

First declared outbreak in Agassiz-Harrison since pandemic began

NDP Leader John Horgan celebrates his election win in the British Columbia provincial election in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan celebrates projected majority NDP government, but no deadline for $1,000 deposit

Premier-elect says majority government will allow him to tackle issues across all of B.C.

B.C. Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson speaks during a drive-in car rally campaign stop at a tour bus operator, in Delta, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Andrew Wilkinson stepping down as B.C. Liberal leader

Will stay on until the next party leader is chosen

VicPD and B.C. Conservation Officer Service teamed up to free two bucks who were entangled in a fishing net and dragging a wheelbarrow sized piece of driftwood behind them. (VicPD)
VIDEO: Police, B.C. Conservation help two bucks caught in one fishing net

Bucks were also dragging a wheelbarrow sized piece of driftwood behind them

A heavy police presence was spotted in Lumby, Monday, Oct. 26, 2020. (Facebook)
Police situation leads to ‘hold and secure’ at North Okanagan school

Police call for social media blackout in ongoing incident

École de l’Anse-au-sable. (Google Maps)
COVID-19 outbreak forces closure of Kelowna school

The outbreak is the first within B.C.’s school system since classes resumed back in September

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

FILE – B.C. Lions and Toronto Argonauts owner, Senator David Braley speaks after the CFL announced Vancouver will host the 2014 Grey Cup championship football game during a news conference in Vancouver, B.C., on Friday March 8, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
BC Lions owner David Braley dead at 79

Braley had bought the CFL team prior to 1997 season

Most Read