Why and How to Stretch for Hiking

How to stretch for hiking
How to stretch for hiking

Stretching! This is something we all need to do, but often times only do sometimes. So let’s change that!


Benefits of stretching

Who doesn’t want those kind of benefits?! Especially with all the hiking we’ll be doing this year.

Reduce muscle stiffness and soreness

Constantly feeling sore and stiff isn’t fun. With my scoliosis, I constantly have back pain and focusing on strengthening the muscles around my spine and then stretching to open up my back, improve my posture and reduce pain. Stretching regularly can help reduce stiffness, reduce soreness after a workout, and reduce pain in your body.


Improves your range of motion

Because it improves flexability and reduces pain and stiffness, constantly stretching can help to enhance enrestricted movement. This is something we all want when it comes to hiking!


Improves muscluar function

Since most of us sit behind the computer all day (myself included) we develop poor posture, improper body mechanics, repetitive movement patterns. This contributes to improper alignment, muscles can become chronically tense, tight and contacted, causing your body reduce in stretch, not to move properly, and develop on going issues within your body. As an example, sitting all day causes tight and weak hips and that could contribute to knee pain while hiking because of poor alignment. The way to fix it? To strengthen your body and stretch it out! Regularly stretching helps improve overall function and helps your body respond better to different movement, activity and the physical stress we apply to ourselves.


Enhances performance

When you include dynamic and static stretching as part of your regular routine, if helps you move comfortably within your body and during different activities. Stretching can help enhance agility, power, speed, and muscular strength.


Improves blood flow

Regularly stretching improves blood flow and circulation. This is a huge help at altitude! It enhances the transportation and use of oxygen and nutrient-rich blood throughout your body.


Minimizes wear and tear on joints

When your muscles are tight and tense, your body doesn’t move properly! Opposing muscles become weak and create unnecessary wear and tear on your joints and structures. Like my hip example able. If your hips are weak and tight, it can add pressure to your knees and can cause knee pain on and off the trail. Regular stretching helps to ensure an equal degree of pull on each side of a joint to be able to move freely and efficiently in all directions.


Reduces the chances of getting injuried

Improving your flexability will help reduce your chances of getting injury. If all of the above reasons are not enough to convince you, here’s another one. Dynamic stretching is done before you exercise (or hike) to properly warm up your body, and then you use static stretching at the end of the workout as part of the cool down. Properly warming up will warm up cold muscles to prevent strains and sprains.

Stretch on and off the trail

At the end of every workout and when you take breaks on the trail, stretch it out! Stretch out your arms, back, hips, legs, calves, everything!


Even on your days off between workouts, stretch! Hold each stretch for 30 seconds to 1 minute to fully maximize each one.


When hiking, I do a deep stretch during my lunch break and when I get back to camp. During breaks, I take some time to roll my ankles, stretch out my hips lightly and anything else that’s feeling tight.


Below are a bunch of different stretches for you to do and a video with one of my stretching flows! You can do these after a workout or on the trail!

Legs and Lower Body Stretches

  • Butterfly Sit
  • Sitting Hip Stretch
  • Sitting Modified Hurdler Hamstring Stretch
  • Lying Hamstring Stretch
  • Standing Hamstring Stretch
  • Calf Stretch
  • Quadriceps Stretch (Lying or Standing)
  • Seated Forward Toe Touch
  • Figure Four Stretch
  • Modified Pigeon Stretch
  • Runner’s Lunge
  • Lunge With Reach and Twist
  • Scissor Stretch
  • Ankle Circles
  • Seated Twist
  • Lunging Hip Flexor Stretch
  • Toe-Up Curb Stretch
  • 90/90 Stretch
  • Piriformis Stretch

Back Stretches

  • Knees to Chest
  • Cat-Cow
  • Prone Back Extension
  • Lying Twist
  • Child’s Pose With Reach
  • Downward Dog

Arms and Upper Body Stretches

  • Shoulder Overhead
  • Shoulder Posterior
  • Neck Circles
  • Behind-the-Back Stretch
  • Chest Opener
  • Seated Heart Opener
  • Seated Neck Release
  • Tipover Tuck
  • Wrist Circles

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