Preventing Hiking Injuries in Portland

A Portland Orthopedic Doctor’s Tips for Treating and Preventing Hiking Injuries

All year long, both locals and visitors appreciate Portland’s assortment of local hiking trails in urban and wooded environments. With trails for every level of hiking skill, our city and the surrounding area offer something for every outdoor enthusiast. While hiking can be great for the mind, body, and spirit, it poses risks. With our experience treating common hiking injuries, the Portland orthopedic doctors at Northwest Extremity Specialists urge hikers to take precautions before they take to the trail. For help managing orthopedic injuries and getting back on your feet, turn to an orthopedic doctor in Portland.  

Common Hiking Injuries 

Are you suffering from knee pain, joint pain, or foot pain following a strenuous hike? It could be a sign of a hiking injury. Some common hiking injuries include the following:

Knee and Ankle Sprains 

Losing your footing during a hike, even if you stop yourself from falling, could cause you to develop sprains that compromise your mobility. Ankle sprains and knee sprains are among the most common injuries hikers suffer. 

Joint Inflammation

Pain in the joints could indicate joint inflammation. You might benefit from physical therapy sessions, knee-strengthening exercises, and the use of a knee brace.

Plantar Fasciitis

Foot pain could indicate plantar fasciitis, inflammation of the thick tissue that's located on the bottom of the foot. You might need physical therapy or custom-made orthotics for better foot support. 


Blisters that develop on the feet while hiking often result from poor-fitting footwear. Although mild blisters can be treated at home, these wounds can be painful enough to keep you out of commission. 

Fractured and Dislocated Bones

Among the more serious injuries hikers sustain are broken bones, such as: 

  • Ankle fractures 
  • Broken legs 
  • Broken arms 
  • Broken wrists 
  • Dislocations of the shoulder joint  

Continuing to put a strain on the broken bone can make the injury worse. 

How to Prevent Hiking Injuries 

When hiking any trail in Portland, it’s important to take precautions to prevent injuries. 

Choose Your Trail Wisely 

Always choose trails that are appropriate for your skill level and hiking experience. You may also want to consider the weather conditions when planning your hike. Attempting a trail that’s too challenging makes injuries more likely. 

While hiking, you should pace yourself. Don’t be afraid to rest or call it a day if needed. You still get the benefits of exercise and fresh air, and with consistent practice, you can eventually finish the trail without putting yourself at risk. 

Wear the Right Gear 

The wrong clothing and footwear can put you at risk of falling or cause blisters and foot pain. Invest in comfortable hiking boots with thick, shock-absorbing soles that protect your feet from rough terrain. Only wear well-fitting shoes to hike, and ensure they aren’t so tight that they restrict your circulation or so loose that they rub against your foot, causing blisters. 

Gear like trekking poles and knee braces may help you handle the challenging terrain, especially if you are experiencing soreness or instability in your knees, arms, or shoulders. 

Take Safety Precautions 

A relatively minor hiking injury could leave you stranded. Even experienced hikers should always take safety precautions such as: 

  • Informing someone of where you’re going and when you should be back in case you get lost or stranded 
  • Packing plenty of water and a snack in case you’re out on the trail longer than expected 
  • Bringing a cellphone with adequate battery life and a portable battery pack so you’re able to call for help 
  • Packing a map and compass if you get lost and a first aid kit for minor injuries 

Hiking can be just as strenuous as a cardio workout. Stretch before you start, and do some cool-down stretches after finishing your route. 

Pay Close Attention to the Terrain 

Slippery slopes, shifting terrain, loose stones, and other obstacles in your path are often to blame for twisted ankles, sprains and falls that lead to broken bones. Be aware of your surroundings, especially the ground right before you. 

What to Do If You Get Hurt 

Attempting to push through the pain of a hiking injury could worsen the damage. Even a sprained ankle could be a significant enough injury to see a doctor, especially if you’re in a lot of pain, the sprain doesn’t seem to be getting better, or you’re unsure if you might have a more severe injury like a fracture. 

If you suffer a hiking injury that doesn’t improve with a short period of rest, ice, and other home treatments or one that causes you significant pain and loss of mobility, it’s time to see a Portland specialist for orthopedic pain. Our orthopedic doctors treat all kinds of injuries of the musculoskeletal system. Whether your pain results from injuries to the muscles, bones, joints, ligaments, or tendons, we’re prepared to get you feeling better and back on your feet.