On your hiking poles, get set, go: hikers will soon be able to explore the Way of St. James again in good weather. However, they should be checked beforehand to see if they are fit enough for it.
Wide meadows, beautiful bays and picturesque villages: The Way of St. James is one of the most popular hiking trails in Europe for both professional and amateur hikers. But not everyone is fit enough for the long distance.
You should be aware of this: The stretches of the Way of St. James to Santiago de Compostela are between 240 and 1000 kilometers long. Depending on the weather, individual fitness and any illnesses, they can be very challenging for the pilgrims, says Prof. Thomas Butz. He is chief physician of the clinic for cardiology in the Ameos Klinikum St. Clemens Oberhausen.
Play it safe – especially with previous illnesses
Even those who have the feeling that they are fit enough should therefore visit their family doctor before the trip and have their blood values checked.
Depending on your age and previous illnesses, a visit to the cardiologist can also be useful to have an ECG, stress ECG or heart ultrasound performed. This can be particularly important for heart patients.
And if you have chronic illnesses such as diabetes or orthopedic problems such as knee pain, you should check with a doctor in advance whether the tour is feasible.
Preparation is everything
If you are fit enough, nothing stands in the way of the journey. If you need medication regularly, you should pack enough of it – and a medication plan in case the medication is lost.
The sooner you start preparing for the pilgrimage, the better. You can decide in advance which Way of St. James you want to walk – the routes are between 240 and 1000 kilometers long. You should practice the intended daily stages before the pilgrimage, says Butz. For example, you can undertake a hike of 20 kilometers. Your hiking shoes should be broken in before you start your journey.
According to Butz, this should not be missing in a hiking backpack: suitable hiking and trekking clothing, plenty of drinking water, sunscreen, blister plasters, painkillers, anti-diarrhea and nausea remedies, flashlight, hiking poles and a mobile phone.
Another recommendation: Hike in pairs or with several people so that you can help each other in an emergency.