5 Reasons To Stretch Your Muscles While Hiking

Many hikers disregard stretching or believe it is just for the elderly and those in poor physical condition. Have you ever considered that a few stretches while hiking might alleviate or prevent back and knee problems? The stretches we will cover here aren’t meant to make you more flexible; rather, they’re meant to help you heal and avoid injury. Here are some tips to stretch your muscles while hiking.

Why Is It Important To Not Forget To Stretch Your Muscles When Hiking?

A lot of people believe that stretching while hiking is unnecessary. Furthermore, many hikers do not use it. Most hikers only think about it when they get up the next day: “Oh, I’m stiff, maybe I should have stretched out last night.” Some people only stretch when they have no other alternative to alleviate their aching calves on a climb.

This is something that many people do not do until they are hurt and a doctor informs them that stretching may have prevented their injuries.

The older we become, the stiffer our bodies and muscles get, making them more prone to injury. Without further ado, here are 5 reasons why you should stretch when hiking.

5 Reasons Why You Should Stretch While Hiking

1. Preparation for exercise and avoidance of unintentional accidents

Stretching before the hike will wake up your body and prepare it for the endeavor. This considerably lowers the possibility of traumatic (or unintentional) damage such as a sprain, strain, contracture, and so on.

On my first few hike, I, like many others, only stretched when I felt a cramp coming on. A few injuries later – not only from trekking – taught me the value of stretching.

Your muscles are activated and ready to respond if you stretch them. If you don’t stretch your muscles, they’ll be sluggish to respond, and you may injure them or other tissues like your tendons or ligaments.

Keep in mind that you should never stretch your muscles “cold.” Despite the fact that I state “before the hike” these stretches should be done after a warm-up. This should ideally be active stretching, which I shall cover further below.

2. Muscle fatigue management

Stretching throughout the hike assists you to exhaust your muscles less and be more efficient. Stretching your muscles helps to circulate well-oxygenated blood through them. This aids in the clearance of wastes (such as lactic acid) that would otherwise “remain” in your muscles, making cramping and fatigue more likely.

Stretching your muscles fairly regularly during the exercise helps to relax them and avoids accumulating tension. As a result, you will suffer less physical pain during and after the walk.

3. Physical recovery

Stretching after a hike helps you recover faster. You will feel less weary and more energetic the next day since you will have less muscular pains and physical discomfort. Toxin removal from your muscles aids in their recovery.

Stretch Your Muscles While Hiking

4. Prevention of chronic injuries

Stretching after hiking minimizes the chance of chronic problems. Stretching helps to return muscle fibers to their resting posture. Even if you don’t walk, your muscles will continue to tense and work excessively if you don’t stretch.

They not only remain tight and do not relax, but they also continue to “pull” on your tendons (which connect muscles to bones). As a result, your tendons are functioning even when you are not exerting any effort. Exertion-induced lesions cannot be healed, and your tendons do not “relax” and are much more prone to get inflamed.

Many hikers, for example, suffer from knee tendinitis. Stretch your leg muscles in addition to using hiking poles to loosen up your muscles and protect your tendons.

5. General relaxation

Finally, stretching after the hike can help you relax both physically and psychologically. This will result in a faster return to normalcy, improved overall healing, and better sleep.

How Do You Stretch Your Muscles Before Hiking?

In this section, we will differentiate between active and passive stretching. Active stretching is preferred during the warm-up, while passive stretching is preferred during and after the hike.

Before we get into the specifics of stretching, here are some considerations to take:

  • do not cold stretch;
  • Stretching should not be uncomfortable (there should be no grimacing);
  • Do not use force or jerk;
  • Adjust the stretches to your body’s needs and sensations.
  • Listen to your body and base your decisions on how you feel.

How to do active stretching?

Here are a few pointers regarding active stretching:

  • 6 seconds of muscular contraction
  • For 2 seconds, relax the muscle.
  • 6 seconds of muscular stretching (do not exceed 10 seconds).
  • Repeat 2 or 3 times for the muscles you’ll be using on your journey.

How to do passive stretching?

Here are some pointers regarding passive stretching:

  • To stretch the muscle, get into the proper posture.
  • Gradually (smoothly) tension the muscle.
  • Breathe normally while maintaining the same strain for roughly 20 seconds.
  • Gradually release the tension.
  • If required, repeat 2 or 3 times more, focusing the muscles that “work” a lot. It is preferable to extend another muscle before returning to the one that has just been stretched, or to pause between two consecutive stretches of the same muscle.
  • It is critical to avoid passive cold stretching, which is a common error, because it produces micro-tears in the muscle fibres. After you’ve warmed up, it’s better to conduct active stretches.
  • Because hiking is not a strenuous exercise, you may just stroll gently to warm up. You may alternatively move your joints by rotating your ankles, shoulders, back, neck, and so on.
  • After you’ve warmed up (say, by walking for 10 minutes), you can do some active stretching. These stretches, in my opinion, are not needed when trekking, but they are preferable for people in average physical condition or who are prone to unintentional injuries.

Muscle stretching during the hike

I strongly advise you to stretch passively while trekking. Take pauses, for example, to stretch for a few minutes. Don’t do this until your muscles are completely tight. Because if they are excessively tight, you will not be able to totally release them.

A little passive stretching after the trek is not only helpful to your body, but it is also incredibly enjoyable. I wholeheartedly suggest it to you. It can be done immediately following exercise or a few hours later. A few stretches will be enough if you stretched regularly during the hike. If this is not the case, it will almost certainly be essential to spend a bit extra time in the highly frequented regions.

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