Cramps happen, and they hurt, but that doesn’t mean hiking has to! Giving your body adequate preparation before any strenuous outdoor activities can help prevent painful cramps. Stretching gives your muscles the flexibility it needs for any prolonged physical activity, and improves your circulation to help you overcome those tough inclines!
Stretches aren’t hard at all; in fact, they can be quite fun before starting on your adventure. A good set of stretches before any hike typically lasts about 10-15 minutes, and they’re simple enough for anyone to do – even the kids. Here are some suggestions and reminders to make the most of your stretches before your next hike!
1. It is important to remember that stretching isn’t supposed to hurt!
It is simply meant to prep your body for vigorous exercise, so take it easy and go slow.
2. Try to do about three repetitions of the same stretch.
With every repetition, try to reach a little further for more of a deep stretch.
3. Keep in mind that taking nice and even breaths as you go increases the effectiveness of the stretch!
As part of any physical activity, you always want to make sure that you’re giving your body enough oxygen and energy!
4. Always aim to stretch opposing muscle groups.
For example, reaching for your toes will stretch the backs of your thigh muscles, so try to even it out by doing the same for the fronts of your thighs!
5. Supplement the stretching with adequate food and water.
Stretches are meant to help you increase your agility, but proper nutrition will give you the stamina to help you keep going!
Don’t forget about the stretch afterward! After a long trail, your body needs to wind down and slowly readjust back to your normal state; try to give yourself 20-30 minutes of cooldown time after your hard work.
Whether you and your family are taking a leisurely stroll by the river, or climbing mountains for a higher view, the body needs ample time to wind up and wind down from physical exertion. Keep these tips in mind before (and after!) your next hike.