Hiking is a great way to enjoy the outdoors while getting exercise and staying healthy, but if you’re not careful it’s also a good way to end up so sore you don’t even want to climb out of your sleeping bag in the morning. Whether you’re new to hiking or an experienced explorer, soreness can definitely put a damper on your adventures. What can you do to help avoid soreness while hiking?
An Ounce of Prevention…
Before you head out into the wilderness, make sure you take enough time to prepare for your trip. Focus first on your food and water — having proper nutrition and remaining hydration are a good way to help prevent soreness. If your body is out of sorts or doesn’t have sufficient amounts of the right nutrients, you’ll end up sore as your body tries to adapt to the damage you’re putting it through.
Hydration is just as important as nutrition — perhaps even more important. In addition to the risk of dehydration, not getting enough water or other forms of hydration while you’re hiking can make you more likely to develop soreness either during or after your hike. Make sure you carry enough water with you to keep you hydrated, or carry a filtration system or water purification tablets so you can take advantage of naturally occurring water sources without getting sick.
If you’re hiking in the heat, consider including some electrolyte powder to your hiking supplies.
Wear the Right Shoes
The sorest part of your body after a hike is often your feet, especially if you’re not wearing the right shoes. For hiking, you need a pair of supportive closed-toed boots that are well broken in. Hiking in new boots is a recipe for blisters.
If your boots need extra support after being broken in, consider investing in a good set of insoles. They can help make your shoes more comfortable, protect your feet from wear, and even help you get some extra life out of your favorite old pair of hiking boots.
Don’t Overdo It
It can be tempting to plan an enormous multi-day adventure for your first hiking excursion, but it is vitally important that you work on your strength and stamina before you start taking on those trips. Start small and work your way up to hiking the Appalachian Trail, if that’s your ultimate goal. If you’re new to hiking, pairing up with a more experienced hiker is a good way to learn your limits and to pick up the experience and skills you need to prepare you for your own solo trips.
Once you’re done exploring the wilderness, it’s time to head home and relax but don’t sit down in front of your computer just yet. Take the time to stretch out all the muscles that you’ve just used. Not only will it help to reduce overall soreness, stretching both before and after your hike allows you to warm up your muscles so you don’t injure yourself during your hike.
Hiking can be a great way to explore the outdoors while staying healthy. If you’re properly prepared and know your own limits, it can be easily enjoyed without worrying about undue soreness once the adventure is over.
Scott Huntington is a writer from central Pennsylvania. He enjoys working on his home and garden with his wife and 2 kids. Follow him on Twitter @SMHuntington