If you want to get out of the house and into the woods but your achy bones are holding you back, take a look at these 10 hiking with arthritis tips.
- Pack Light If you are going for an overnight excursion, keep your bags light. This is an especially important tip for those who have arthritis in their hips, back and legs.
- Fitted Backpack Keeping your body healthy while hiking with arthritis is all about reducing the amount of strain your body has to cope with. Go to an outdoor store and ask for help getting your backpack fitted for you body. A properly fitted backpack will distribute most of the weight onto the back and hips which can take more weight than the shoulders.
- Good Shoes Your feet are what hold you up, so making sure they have good support is essential to any hiking trip, with or without arthritis. This is especially important for people with arthritis in their legs, but is useful for general for hiking health, too.
- Insoles If you already have good shoes, invest in some high quality insoles for further support. Talk to your doctor or research online what insoles will work best for your feet.
- Hiking Poles Propelling yourself along the trail with the help of hiking poles reduces strain on your back, hips, and legs. Hiking poles are not a good idea for those with arthritic hands, arms and shoulders as your arm strength is what will be relieving the strain on other body parts.
- Pain Killers It’s always a good idea to bring anti-inflammatory pain killers with you on a hike. If your knees don’t start acting up until you’re already up the mountain, pop a pill, rest a bit, and then start back down.
- Improv Icepack If you’re hiking somewhere with snow, bring a plastic bag to make your own ice pack. When you stop for a rest, ice your arthritic joints before starting again.
- Uphill Versus Downhill Most people with arthritis find that going downhill is more strenuous than climbing a hill because of the constant pressure being applied to the knees and ankles. Keep this in mind when picking your route – try a loop instead of an up and back trail to reduce the amount of downhill time.
- Keep Breaks Short Resting is a good idea when hiking, but make sure you don’t sit down so long that your joints lock up. Learn how long it takes your body to stiffen up and make sure your breaks are shorter than that. If your body does lock up, take some time to warm it up slowly before hitting the trail again.
- Post-Hike Ice Whether or not there is snow available on your hike, use an ice pack once you get home, too. Ice helps keeps inflammation down so icing as much as possible will ease your pain.