Backpacker Radio Episode 17: Thru-Hiking Injury Prevention and Recovery Tips with Dr. Emily Kelly

apple podcasts backpacker radio

A sad, yet seemingly inevitable byproduct of long distance backpacking is pain and injury.  Though it’s not a guarantee, to escape a long distance trek without one of the two or both is a rare accomplishment.  Consequently, two popular questions for thru-hikers are how to prevent injury while on trail, and what to do about an injury once it manifests.  In episode 17 of Backpacker Radio, the Paprika Pals are joined by Dr. Emily Kelly, a physical therapist based in Centennial, Colorado.  She answers Badger and Chaunce’s selfish injury related questions, along with those sent in from other Writers and Bloggers at The Trek.  Odds are, if you’re dealing with a hiking-related injury or are looking for ways to reduce your injury risk, there’s some valuable insight in this podcast.

Subjects discussed include:

-SPECIFIC QUESTIONS- 

  • How long after ACL reconstruction can someone get back into hiking?
  • If you sustain an ankle injury such as a strain or sprain while on trail, is it safe to keep hiking, and if so, what steps can be taken to promote healing and avoid further injury, while continuing to backpack? If you HAVE to get off trail, what steps can be taken at home to do the same, as well as to condition yourself to return to hiking as quickly as possible?
  • I had an ACL reconstruction done a few months ago, and am struggling to get my quad and other “hiking” muscles to come back. What is the best way to work on getting these back so that as soon as I am cleared, I can get back on trail as quickly as possible?
  • Knee injuries are incredibly common amongst long distance backpackers. What are the most common causes of knee pain for backpackers; how best to treat them, and what exercises can be done prior to hitting the trail to strengthen the knees?
  • I have herniated disks between shoulder blades and in cervical spine that compress and push on spinal nerve after prolonged hiking. Strengthening muscles around area helps with daily pain but prolonged backpacking causes sharp severe pain. Is there a high potential for causing more damage by backpacking? What advice, stretches, forms, weight placement of items in backpack would they suggest to minimize pain?
  • The Sassafras Approach!
  • What are your thoughts about people starting a thru-hike while recovering from existing injuries?
  • What kind of mobility aids they would recommend bringing on a hike to treat your own injuries?
  • What are the top concerns you have (or deals with) regarding hikers.
  • When should you work through pain in injury recovery vs. use pain as indicator to stop pushing?
  • Top stretches for our aching hiker bodies?  Does time of day matter?
  • The best way to deal with osteoarthritis in back/hip, knees and feet. The grinding of the joints is somewhat painful after a few 12-15 mile days and I cannot take ibuprofen.
  • I got off the trail in May due to back pain. I had a spinal fusion with harrington rods at age 8 and again at 13. I’ve been told by chiropractor that I would cripple myself if I continued. I recently saw an orthopedic spine  specialist that said I can do anything I want as long as I could handle the pain of it. What Do I do??? I miss the trail so much. I am full out depressed being in the real world.
  • Advice for IT band pain?  Both on trail and at home.
  • How to Physically Prepare for a thru-hike.
  • Achilles Tendinitis- best stretches and how to use KT tape for treatment.
  • Best way to transition yourself back to life off the trail? Exercises, etc.
  • Altra Lone Peak

 

Have any praise, questions, praise, comments, praise or praise for Backpacker Radio?  Reach out to [email protected].

This episode was recorded at Wayfinder Co-op. Intro song Walking Slow by Animal Years.

Listen

Subscribe to this podcast on iTunes (and please leave us a review)! Download this podcast.  Find us on Stitcher and Google Play.

A super big thank you to our Chuck Norris Award winner(s) from Patreon: Sawyer Products

A big thank you to our Cinnamon Connection Champions from Patreon: Gregory Gardner, Kate Hurley, Clint “DuctTape” Sherbet, and Peter Leven.

Follow FurballBackpacker RadioThe Trek, Chaunce, and Badger on Instagram.

Follow The Trek and Chaunce on YouTube.

Follow The Trek on Facebook, Twitter and sign up for our newsletter.

Affiliate Disclosure

This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!

To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.

Comments 1

  • Avatar
    Hiker Historian (Trailname: “Double H”) : Aug 17th

    As someone who had to end their 2018 hike with a knee injury after just 400 miles, loved this episode! I’ll be getting back on in the fall and will take some of these nuggets of wisdom / advice along with me.

    Reply

What Do You Think?