We love getting into nature, and feeling the burn as we make it to the top of the climb for the breathtaking views, but at what cost? We don’t love waking up the next morning and our knees are achy, or we can’t sit down without looking like we just did a bootcamp the day before.
We want to share with you our top 5 hike specific stretches to make the most of your hike and recovery well.
This super simple, do anywhere stretch will help loosen out tight quad muscles straight after the hike. For bonus points, use this stretch when you stop along the way and after your climbs, to loosen out the muscles more. From the standing position, bend your knee as if you are going to kick your butt, and grab hold of the ankle with the same side hand. Hold onto a wall, fence, or another person for stability, and hold the stretch for 30 seconds before changing sides.
Just as your quads will get tight going up hills, your hamstrings will tighten coming down, or taking longer and shorter than usual strides on uneven surfaces. Stretching your hamstrings is important to keep flexibility in the length of your muscles, and stop any tightness creeping into your hips and lower back. Sit on the floor, with one leg stretched out in front of you and the other bent inward. Reach towards your toes with the same hand as leg. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds before changing sides. If you can’t reach your foot, that is absolutely ok! Just reach down your leg as far as your muscles will allow, and next time, you might just surprise yourself and get a little further!
Hip Flexor stretch.
Taking more than your usual daily step count can be beneficial for your health but can also leave you with a small short term tightness of the hip flexors. These helpful guys are located at the front of your hips, and are used to flex your leg at the hip. When they are tight, you can get other problems creeping in such as sore lower back, or an unsupported core, or tight glutes. Try this stretch to help loosen up your post hike hip flexors. Kneel on your right knee and place your right foot on the floor in front of you, with your foot flat on the floor. Lean forward and push your hips against the floor. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other leg.
If you are just starting with carrying a backpack, or have recently increased the weight in your backpack ( for day or multi day hike training) then your shoulders might start to feel the pinch post hike. Hiking takes upper body strength as well as lower, and stretching your shoulders can be very beneficial in post hike recovery. Standing up for this stretch,place your right hand on your left shoulder. Then hold your right elbow with your left hand. Pull it slowly towards you, without straining. Your right elbow should move closer to your left shoulder, then hold for about 30 seconds before swapping sides.
The calves come under a lot of stress when hiking and especially heading up and down an incline. Cramping is not fun for any hiker, so make sure you keep this stretch in mind throughout your hike as well as post hike. Lean against a tree and move into a lunge position, with the front leg bent and the back leg straight. Move your weight over the front leg. Make sure you keep the heel of your back leg on the ground. Hold for 30 seconds then swap legs.
We hope you have taken a few handy hints out of our tip stretches, and can apply them on your next hiking adventure!