100 kilometres, up to 48 hours – and importantly, 9 rest stops. If you’re about to walk the Oxfam Trailwalker, then you’ll have nine opportunities to refresh, refuel, and keep yourself in your prime to continue walking until the finish line. Otherwise, you’ll miss out on crucial opportunities to optimise your performance, your ability to cross the finish line – and your health throughout the event. Here are nine of our physio’s rest stop must-do’s for this year’s Oxfam Trailwalker participants.
Refuel Your Energy
You may already be snacking on muesli bars throughout the legs, but your rest stop is the time to eat something substantial and nutritious. A study looking at the nutritional implications for ultra-endurance walking and running events showed that optimally maintaining your nutrition results in a decreased risk of energy depletion, better performance, and a quicker full recovery.
Opt for hot foods to maintain your core body temperature, especially throughout the night legs of the race. Hot drinks and soups are generally provided at 7 out of 9 checkpoints – a checkpoint-specific food and water menu is included in your training pack, so consult it beforehand so you don’t get caught out.
Do A Weather Check
Discuss with your team whether you have the necessary equipment to support yourselves between your current checkpoint and the next one, given the current weather. If it’s raining, consider the possibility of lightning strikes, mountain torrents and landslides.
Refill Your Supplies
You can only carry so much with you during each leg of the walk so that you don’t weigh yourself down. Don’t forget to refill all the supplies you have used at each rest stop, from the basics like water and snacks to things like strapping tape, blister prevention pads, and new gear if your spares are wet or damaged.
While you don’t need to carry nearly this much during the trailwalker, studies examining backpack weight in hikers found that packs should not exceed over 20% of their body weight and not more than 14kg to lower injury rates and improve the success rates of completing the hike.
Your feet are the ones keeping you going, step after step, for 100 kilometres. So giving them and your shoes a good look over at each rest stop is incredibly important in helping to identify and deal with potential issues before they cause you pain or stop you from finishing. Look for red marks, blisters, things that have gotten into your shoes and socks, cuts or other damage. If you’ve already had blisters drained and dressed, check the integrity of the dressing and redress if needed. If you notice a blister starting, even paper tape was found to prevent both the incidence and frequency of foot blisters in endurance distances. It may also be a good idea to change socks.
Re-Strap Your Feet Or Legs
If you’re using strapping tape like kinesiology tape (KT) to help support your joints or muscles without restricting movement, check if you need to re-strap. Tape may peel away or loosen over time, especially if you’re walking non-stop, sweating or battling wet weather conditions. If you’re offered strapping tape at a checkpoint, consider using your own first if you still have some left – studies comparing different tape brands found significant variability in the level of support, even when the tape is applied and elongated in the exact same way.
Have A Short Rest – Physically & Mentally
You have very few opportunities for rest, so when they come, take them. Go through some breathing exercises. Gently stretch your body. Do a mental check-in and refresh your mindset. Just try not to make your rests too long – if you sit around for prolonged periods, your core temperature can drop, your heart rate may slow, and your muscles and joints may start to stiffen.
Utilise The Facilities
Each checkpoint has toilet facilities, medical services, hydration and some form of food, but some checkpoints also have extra facilities ranging from blister management to massages to strapping stations. Utilise these – well. We’ve seen many people saved by these stations providing some much-needed pain reduction or relief to keep participants going until the end. Even if your signs or symptoms are mild – prevention is key.
Check In On Your Team Mates
Take a moment while you’re all resting to check in on your teammates to see how they’re really doing. Are they feeling any aches or having any problems that you could help with? Even something as simple as strapping their knee, ensuring they are sufficiently refuelled, or checking in on how they’re mentally coping with the event can help.
Body Check For Pains And Niggles
If you start to feel a niggle or ache during a leg of the race, always keep an inventory of where these are and check your body at every rest stop. Stopping a mild foot ache by using strapping at a checkpoint is far better than letting it progress to significant, limiting pain a few hours later. Once you’ve completed the event, it’s time to see your physio and fill them in on these, so you can recover and rehabilitate the right way – and not leave problems lingering for years to come.
PhysioCentral Is Here To Support You
We love the Oxfam Trailwalker and get involved every year, supporting individuals and teams in their training, recovery and injury management. If you need help – whether you’re worried about an ache leading up to the event or you need help to recover after, our experienced physiotherapists are here for you.
Book your appointment online or call us on +852 2801.4801