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The greatest dangers and annoyances of the Camino de Santiago

Although walking the Camino de Santiago (Camino de Santiago) is primarily an enjoyable experience, there are some risks associated with making the 500 to 560 mile (800 to 900 kilometer) journey in just over a month.

The Camino de Santiago stretches across most of Spain and France and traveling one of its paths has been a tradition for Christians around the world since the Middle Ages. Similar to the pilgrimages to Rome and Jerusalem, traveling to the sanctuary of the Apostle Saint James the Great in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia was (and still is) considered by many in the Roman Catholic faith as a way to earn a living. indulgence: a reduction in punishment for earthly sins in the afterlife.

However, throughout history, pilgrims have experienced varying degrees of difficulty and discomfort along the way, perhaps as part of gaining their indulgence. Depending on when you walk the Camino de Santiago, there are a number of annoyances, setbacks, and even injuries that you can expect on your journey.

To properly prepare for your pilgrimage, you need to consider these risks (and some great solutions) when planning and packing your trip. Also, you should practice good care when walking the Camino de Santiago, which could include treating you to a good hotel when you finish in Santiago.

Blisters

Blisters are the most common ailment suffered by pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago, especially since there are many walks involved in the trip. However, blisters are fairly easy to avoid if you wear proper footwear and make sure your shoe inserts have not worn away.

A popular type of band-aid among pilgrims is called ‘ competed ‘, which you can buy at any pharmacy on the route. Alternatively, you can purchase the American alternative, Spenco 2nd Skin Blister Pads, before you leave for your trip.

Tendinitis

If you have blisters and start to walk differently, you may have tendonitis as a result, and even if you don’t have blisters, tendonitis is a common problem for pilgrims.

Most people can overcome this injury with a little rest (either by coming to a complete stop or by walking for shorter days). If you don’t speak Spanish, ask a Spanish speaker to help you at the pharmacy to find a medicine to help ease the pain associated with tendonitis.

Back pain

When it comes to preparing for a hiking excursion, many people often overlook the importance of selecting the right hiking backpack for their trip. Carrying too much or having an ill-fitting bag can cause back pain, which can become a serious problem when walking. Poor posture can also contribute to back pain.

The size of the bag you will need depends on how far you are traveling along the Camino de Santiago and what you absolutely must have for your trip. A medium-sized pack with enough room for a week of clothing and other travel necessities will keep the weight down. You also need to make sure your bag has all the correct straps and is tight in all the correct places and that you are walking correctly to avoid injuring your back.

Broken or ineffective equipment

Speaking of high quality backpacks, equipment breakage or inefficiency are common problems that pilgrims could face along the route. A bag or pair of shoes that looks fine when tried in the store may not be correct after 300 miles of wear.

Ineffective equipment can cause a variety of injuries and annoyances down the road, so be sure to buy durable equipment or be financially prepared to stop along the way to buy new equipment if yours gives up.

Sunburn and heat stroke

Spain is a warm country and, although the north is more temperamental than Andalusia, high temperatures are common and much of the Camino is heavily exposed to direct sunlight. As a result, many travelers along the route who are unprepared for the weather suffer from sunburn or worse, heatstroke.

Normal precautions apply: get a small bottle of (at least) factor 30 of sunscreen. A good all-weather clothing option is a light button-down shirt, as the long sleeves will keep the sun out or can be rolled up in clouds and can serve as a warm garment on cool mornings.

Be lost

Many fear getting lost on the Camino de Santiago, but you shouldn’t have much difficulty finding your way as the routes are clearly marked. Still, it is possible to stray off the trail, especially if you veer off the beaten path.

If you find yourself lost, only three words in Spanish will get you back on track: «Para el Camino?» This phrase is literally translated as “for the road”, but is used to ask “how do I get to the road?” Each local will know where you need to go and guide you in the right direction.

Most pilgrims bring a guide that has route maps, which can be helpful in planning your route each night (as there are many routes to choose from along the way. Alternatively, some travelers only get a compact Camino map book and lightweight rather than carrying a large guide.

Exhaustion and dehydration

Make no mistake about it, the Camino de Santiago is a long journey, and while most pilgrims will not suffer from exhaustion or dehydration along the way, it can become a problem if you don’t get enough rest and remember to drink plenty of water.

Walk at your own pace, eat properly, drink regularly, take the steep sections slowly, and don’t overexert yourself. Take enough time, between one or two months, to do the entire Camino and be able to take shorter days when necessary.

A list of the cities and towns that are approaching, with details of their facilities and the distance between them, is essential. This will help you decide if you need to stop in one city or wait until the next.

Knee pain and injuries

Carrying a heavy backpack for long distances over rough terrain can be tough on anyone’s knees, but especially those over 40. Joint stiffness and pain can be amplified by exhaustion and dehydration, so be sure to stretch before starting your day and stay hydrated while you walk.

Although everyone dreads the uphill climbs before participating in the Camino, it is actually walking downhill that is most likely to cause injury, especially to the knees. If you have a history of knee pain, be sure to take the downhill routes at a comfortable pace to avoid injury.

Traffic accidents and violent attacks

On the side of the road, on the way to Estella, there is a monument to a Canadian lady who tragically lost her life after being hit by a drunk driver. Of the 100,000 people who walk the Camino each year, she is one of the few deaths reported along the highway in the past 50 years. There have also been some violent attacks along the way, but these are few and far between as well.

The most important thing to remember when traveling the Camino, or in any unfamiliar place, is to always be aware of your surroundings. As an added precaution, if you’re starting before dawn, consider wearing reflective gear, especially on weekend mornings when drunk drivers are more likely to be on the road.

Pre-existing medical conditions

Only you know if you can do the Camino. While the Trail is a relatively easy (if not long) journey for someone in good health, the fact that people die of heart attacks and other medical conditions means that you need to be sure that you are physically prepared for the trek.

If you have (or suspect you have) asthma, a heart condition, arthritis or other pre-existing ailments that you think may impede your progress on the Camino, consult your doctor before traveling. While on the Camino, take a mobile phone and remember that 112 is the number for emergency services in Spain.

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