Arthritis is a medical condition that involves inflammation of one or more joints which lead to stiffness and pain. There are several types of arthritis which have diverse side effects including infections and underlying diseases. One is more likely to get the disease due to old age, obesity, joint injury, or stress.
This type of arthritis happens when flexible protective tissue of the bone’s cartilage wears down slowly and becomes worse. This condition can affect any joint in the body but often damages the spine, hips, knees, and hands.
The symptoms of osteoarthritis occur gradually and may get worse over time. These include pain in affected bones during movement, stiffness in joints, tenderness upon exertion of pressure, swelling, loss of flexibility, crackling or popping sound of joints and bone spurs. Understanding what osteoarthritis is and its symptoms can come in handy in its management.
Hiking with Osteoarthritis
Although the effects of osteoarthritis cannot be reversed, it can be well managed. One way to manage osteoarthritis is to exercise regularly. People with this condition are hence encouraged to hike as it places pressure off the joints especially for those whose knees and hips are affected. However, one must be cautious while hiking so as not to cause more damage to the affected part. People with osteoarthritis should practice several precautions including:
Prep Well Before the Hike
A lot of damage occurs after any type of exercise due to poor preparation of the body both physically and mentally. You can try jogs or short runs a few days before the exercise. Also, ensure that you are psychologically ready to take up the task. One of the most vital preps is stretching right before the hike and after. This ensures the muscles are flexible hence less prone to injury.
Modify Trails for Hiking
Create trails or paths for hiking that you are comfortable with. Depending on how bad your knee is, you can customize your trails as you desire. This ranges from easy to difficult trails with ups and downs that you feel you can tackle well. Begin with even and level trails then gradually progress to more difficult ones as you become accustomed to hiking.
Wearing Supportive Devices
Support gear such as ankle and knee braces offer support preventing pressure from causing any further damage. They are also light, adjustable, well ventilated and even washable. Also, use a walking stick or trekking pole while hiking. This helps distribute your body weight hence reducing the stress from the affected parts of the body.
Carry Reusable Gel Packs
These packs come in handy to soothe that inflamed joint or knee after a long stretch. You can put them in your mini-cooler or place them in a freezer before going for your hike.
Hiking can be long and tedious. The temperatures also get quite low in some regions which can worsen the osteoarthritis. Dress warmly and comfortably for any eventuality during the hike. Ensure you also get well-fitting hiking shoes to ensure maximum cushioning.