5 Essential Tips To Prepare For A Hiking Expedition
A hiking vacation is an exciting holiday choice. However, amateur hikers, beware: Hiking is not without risks. Indeed, hiking accidents are frequent, and they can even be deadly in some cases. Hiking causes approximately 4,000 deaths in America. Yosemite hikes alone are responsible for 12 to 15 deaths every year. However, the chances of falling to your death are low, less than 0,007%. Nevertheless, being prepared can avoid taking unnecessary risks.
Some of the most common hiking accidents involve falls and trips. A fall can lead to broken bones. On the other hand, a trip on unsteady terrain can cause muscle or tendon injuries. Both will hinder your progress through the hike and will require immediate medical assistance.
So how can you plan a hiking holiday safely? There is no secret formula. If you want to stay safe, you have to plan your holiday carefully.
1- Plan An Off-Season Trip
A hike is hard work, as you must face sudden changes in terrain, the challenges related to the altitude, and potential weather differences. These difficulties come on top of the physical challenge of climbing a mountain for several hours! So, the last thing you need is to plan a hike in the middle of the summer or winter. Aiming for an off-season trip will prevent exercising in the cold or the scorching heat.
There is a second advantage to going off-season. You are less likely to find crowds on the path. Hiking trails are often narrow. Falls and accidents are more prone to occur on a crowded trail.
2 – Have A Training Plan
A hiking expedition requires you to be physically fit. So, if you are new to hiking, you want to make sure you are in top form before your trip. Experts recommend starting your training at least 12 weeks before your hiking challenge. Depending on your level of physical activity, you may want to start sooner to ensure your body can get used to long-term endurance.
Some people build hiking performance by practicing on their local hiking trails. However, if you have no trail near your home, you can still build up stamina and strength with a proper training plan. Indeed, a cardio routine such as running or swimming will help increase cardiovascular health. Ideally, you should incorporate cardio once to twice a week.
Add strength building on specific muscle groups, including glutes, core, and hamstrings. You may also want to add back muscles, as you are likely to carry heavy bags during your hiking expedition.
3 – Start Your Training Diet
Training alone will not be sufficient to boost muscle strength and function in a few weeks. You need to pair it with a targeted diet that can help muscle growth. Why do you want strong muscles for your hiking trip? Three reasons:
- Hiking exposes you to difficult conditions such as altitude and temperature, so you will need more strength.
- Hiking is a long-distance, long-term exercise, so your body needs a strong metabolism — muscle growth boosts your metabolism.
- Hiking involves uneven ground; strong and healthy muscles are less likely to get damaged.
As a rule of thumb, lean proteins are instrumental in building muscle fibers. So, you can slightly change your macronutrient ratios to increase protein intake and reduce carbs. This doesn’t mean you will be eating more. Instead, you could replace your fried egg on toast in the morning with a double fried egg or an omelet to increase protein. Eggs are a source of muscle-building protein. It is also a good idea to include supplements in your diet, such as protein powder.
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4- Know Your Weaknesses
Do you have a weak knee or a bad ankle? These do not stop you from enjoying your hike. However, you can’t ignore them. You don’t want to take any chances with your body. Pack support equipment to help you during the hike. For example, you can use elastic ankle braces or physio straps to add stability and strength to your body. These will prevent accidents and injuries in the long term.
5- Know When To Stop
This is the most important lesson to learn when planning a hiking expedition. Accept that depending on the conditions and your health on this specific day, you may not reach your goal. And, it is fine to give up when things become too hard. Pushing yourself beyond your limits can only expose you to severe risks. If you fail this time, you can prepare better to succeed next time.
Are you ready to book your first hiking trip? It is an exciting time! Make sure to prepare your body and your mind ahead of the adventure. If you are unfamiliar with the area, you may want to look for a professional guide to come with you.