a woman walks in the desert with her daughers on either side

Hiking with POTS: During the Hike

POTS or Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome is a form of dysautonomia that causes your heart rate to increase upon standing.  POTS can cause a wide range of symptoms like dizziness, swelling, and loss of consciousness.  All of which can make hikes or long walks difficult.  For more information about POTS, you can visit the Cleveland Clinic page.  Here are some tips for hitting the trail with POTS.a woman walks in the desert with her daughers on either side

During Your Hike

  1. Wear your compression gear!  Compression gear can help prevent uncomfortable swelling and help your heart work more efficiently.  I like these compression leggings from amazon.  You can size them down for more compression, but I prefer to wear them over my regular compression socks
  2. Bring trekking poles or a walking stick.  POTS can cause dizziness or balance issues.  Bringing a walking stick can help you keep your balance over tricky terrain.  I prefer trekking poles over walking sticks as I find having a pole in each hand helps me maintain my balance easier.  In addition, I’ve found that trekking poles keep my hands more elevated than letting them hang by my sides.  This helps to slow down the blood pooling and swelling in my hands.
  3. Drink Water.  Drinking water is critical for POTS patients, but it becomes even more so on the trail.    Consider carrying a separate bottle for electrolytes in addition to your plain water.  The liquid IV lemon lime flavor packets are my favorite to carry on trail.
  4. Eat salty snacks.  Most POTS patients need added salt in their diets.  Bring salty snacks like sunflower seeds, jerky, popcorn, or trail mix.  Just don’t forget to pack out your trash
  5. Use a smart watch or heart rate monitor to keep an eye on your heart rate.  I use my apple watch to track my heart rate.  When I see it creep up too high, I take a break to catch my breath.
  6. Listen to your body.  Take breaks early and often.  Turn back before you feel too fatigued.  Know when you’ve had enough and resist the temptation to just power through your hike.  Your body will thank you later.

I hope you find these tips helpful!  Check our article: Hiking with Pots: Planning Your Hike for tips on planning your next adventure and stay tuned to hear about our next adventure.  Tell us your tips for hiking with POTS or other disabilities below.

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