Pre-hike stretching, is it really needed? I mean we are just talking about hiking, how difficult can it be, right? I mean, hiking is pretty much walking…uphill…in the woods, right? Wrong!
Hiking usually means some elevation gain, and on tougher trails, it can mean a scramble over rocks, boulders and uneven terrain…uphill. Proper stretching and warm up pre-hike will help to prevent injuries as well as post hike soreness and pain.
Try not to stretch completely “cold”, or static. This means to do a little light jogging or jumping jacks, to get your muscles moving a bit before beginning to stretch.
Lying Hamstring: on your back, extend one leg straight up to the ceiling. With both hands, gently pull towards you and hold the stretch when you get to the point of uncomfortable (not painful, however). Repeat on the other leg for one set, do 3 sets.
- Glutes, Hamstrings, and Hips
Lying Piriformis: On your back with both feet flat on the ground with bent knees, cross your left ankle onto your right quad. Deepen the stretch by your left hand should gently pressing your knee away from you.
Standing quad stretches: while standing, grab the top of your ankle from behind you. Pull toward your rear end gently. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat on the other leg. Repeat this set 3 times. Use a stationary object or wall for balance, if needed.
- Low back and Glutes
Lying Spinal Twists: Lie on your back and feet flat on the ground with bent knees. Keeping your knees together, gently drop your knees to the right with your left arm extended straight out to your side along the floor for balance. You can deepen the stretch by pressing your knees closer to the floor with right hand against your knees.
Runner’s Stretch: Standing with your arms extended and keeping your back straight, place palms on a solid surface such as a tree, wall, or your vehicle. Extend one leg behind and the other forward in a lunge position as you keep the heel of your back leg down. Slowly bend your elbows to bring you closer to the wall and feel the stretch in your back extended leg. Hold for 10 seconds and switch legs for one set. Do 2-3 sets.
Deltoid stretch: Standing upright with feet hip-width apart. Cross left arm over chest with left fingers pointing away from your right shoulder. Using your right hand, pull your arm closer to your chest to deepen the stretch. This one is especially helpful when carrying a heavy pack.
The above are just a few of the basic stretches to get you going. Check out these 10 conditioning exercises to do year round to get you ready for and injury free on the trail. Happy trails to you!
Featured photo source: Pixabay.com