To brace or not to brace when hiking – by Physiotherapist Lara Hurst


Lara hikingI have had the opportunity to do three multi-day hikes while in South America; climbing Mt Roraima in Venezuela, the “W Trek” in Chilean Patagonia and the Inca Trail in Peru. As soon as a fellow hiker finds out that I am a Physio, our breathless up hill conversation invariably turns to which ever ache or pain is impeding their hike the most.

I always carry a few rolls of Physio tape with me and I often find myself strapping someone’s knee or ankle and advising them, that for their next hike, they should invest in a brace that does what my taping does. I have been surprised how many of these hikers have then discussed their reticence to brace as they are worried about becoming “dependent”.

Physios also like to avoid this dependence and therefore, most rehabilitative Physiotherapy exercises are performed without use of a brace. Many injuries that require bracing, once fully rehabilitated, no longer require the brace.

However, there is a time and place for bracing, and a multi-day hike on varied terrain could be a prime example of this.  It would be such a pity to find out half way up a mountain that your injury was not ready to be unbraced or that the brace you’re wearing is not suited to the task.

Braces rarely weigh much, so the best thing to do is to pack it, just in case you need it.

If you are unsure of whether your injury needs bracing, what type of brace it might need or would like some advice on exercises that can be done to reduce your reliance on braces, feel free to make an appointment with one of our InnerStrength of Bayside Physios.