Spring is Here.
It’s that time of year. The days are getting longer, grass is getting greener, and the trails are drying out. Summer hiking is coming up and now is the best time to start getting warmed up for the season ahead. We have a few recommendations for you to help keep you injury free this summer and out on the trails. Whether you are out for multi-day back country adventures or a walk around Shelburne Farms, we have some tips that may come in handy.
Start Out Slow.
While the trails are still wet it’s important to begin walking around the neighborhood to help build up some pre-season cardio. After the winter, not only will it feel good to get out and walk, it is a great way to prime your body and build some early season fitness. It is common to injure yourself early in the season due to your muscles, tendons, joints, and ligaments not being used to the forces seen in hiking. Your body can be exposed to forces up to 6 times your body weight going downhill and 2.5 times your body weight going uphill so it is imperative that your muscles and joints are ready! Start by going out for about 30 minutes at a time if you have not been walking much over the winter. Increase the time by small increments every week or every few walks. Try not to change too many variables at once (difficulty of terrain, elevation gain, time walked).
It is also important to incorporate some resistance training to become more resilient for the hiking season. There are a variety of exercises out there but a few that are helpful are squats, lunges, and step ups. Squats are helpful to strengthen the powerful muscles of your thighs and glutes that allow you to climb for hours at a time. Weighted squats with a barbell or dumbbell can make the exercise more challenging. If you need a modification, you can perform a sit to stand by standing up from a chair and holding a weight as needed. Lunges and step ups are great as they begin to develop more single leg strength to help with balance, stability on uneven terrain, and to help improve your endurance when going downhill.
Relax and Recover.
Now that you have a plan in place for ways to get in shape for an injury-free hiking season it is important to recover well! Listen to your body, it will tell you if it needs more rest. Ensure that you are getting enough sleep, even another hour a night can help prevent injury through better cognitive and physical rest. Make sure that on some of your initial hikes you get the right kind of nutrition during and afterwards. For longer hikes it is important to bring a snack and water. Afterwards make sure you get a meal with some protein. This will make sure that your body has the necessary fuel to build and repair muscle so that you are in the best shape possible for your next hike.
If you have any questions feel free to contact us or schedule a free-injury screen to see how we can best help you achieve your goals and feel good again!