Have you ever been irritated by a sprain you picked up during the trek? Often the nagging pain and difficulty from the point of getting injured spoils the very enjoyment for you as well as your partners. The pinch that you feel on every step when you place your foot on the rocks is something we all want to avoid.
Injuries are very common on a trek, but they can be prevented with proper preparation. We bring to you the most common injuries trekkers face on a Himalayan trek and more importantly how to prevent them.
It’s important to identify them at the right time and take corrective action before they ruin your trekking experience.
So what are the most common injuries on a trek?
Cause: Friction between your foot skin and socks/footwear
Prevention: Invest in quality socks that fit well and are suitable for trekking. Keep at least 3-4 pairs of such socks. Always remember to keep your feet dry, so if your socks have become wet, it’s recommended to change them immediately with a fresh pair.
Your footwear must fit you well and should not be completely new, you should have broken in at least a week prior to your trek.
Treatment: It’s unlikely to have a sterilised needle available. Use blister plaster in such cases, while it won’t heal the wound but it would prevent it from developing further to the surrounding areas.
#2. Ankle Sprain –
Cause: Lack of caution while placing foot on uneven ground. Even a trail like Triund is full of rocks that pose a threat to your ankles if you try to cross them in a hurry and have poor fitting shoes.
Prevention: Take caution in walking on uneven ground. Avoid wearing sports shoes on your treks. Go for hiking boots with good grips.
Treatment: Use the RICE technique tor treating sprains.
Rest – Take any weight off the ankle
Ice – Use a packed snow or or submerge the ankle in cold stream
Compression – Use elastic bandage or a T shirt you’re not gonna use on the trek.
Elevation – Raise the ankle above the level of your heart to minimize swelling
#3. Cuts and Bruises
Cause : Cuts on the knee due to a fall or just above your socks due to thorns while moving through bushes.
Prevention : Wear full length hiking pants. They are abrasion resistant and will often help you avoid the injuries.
Treatment : Bandages are the best bet. Use some antiseptic from your first aid kit so that you do not catch any infection. Try to keep the wound dry.
People are prone to dehydration on treks. It can often result in severe headache (people confuse it with altitude sickness) and complete exhaustion. Treatment and prevention remain the same, hydrating yourself with water as well as salts.Just drinking excessive water won’t replenish the salts your body has lost.
Prevention/Treatment: Keep sipping water whenever you feel thirsty. It would be good to carry bottles of Gatorade and Electral powder sachets.
#4. Sunburn –
Chances of sunburn are high at the higher altitudes and you can face it even during winters from the UVB rays reflecting from snow.
Prevention/Treatment: First step is to cover up your skin. It’s easier to do in winters when you naturally wear full sleeves, but try to do that during your summer treks as well. Eyes can be covered by quality sunglasses, wear a hat for head protection and apply a sunscreen above 25 SPF. Stay protected even during cloudy weather if the day feels hot enough. Keep your sleeveless T shirts/tank tops for the gym, there is nothing worse than getting sunburnt on your shoulders and carrying a backpack over them the next day. Apply aloe vera gel if you feel a part of your skin has been exposed to the harsh rays for a long time of your trek and you feel a burning sensation.
Bug bites are not common during a Himalayan trek. You can read plenty of information on the internet if you’re interested. As a starting point, you should include a first aid kit in your backpack and always ask your trek leader or a fellow trekker for help when needed.
Some suggested items for the first aid box:
- Elastic strap
- Ibuprofen (for headaches and to ease pain).
- Blister plasters
- Duct tape
- Safety Pins
- Insect repellent
- Hand sanitiser
- Salt sachets or electrolyte powders
These are some of the most common injuries or problems you might face during a trek. Taking care of these is not at all hard and gaining basic knowledge regarding such injuries will help you ease out any worries.
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