Even what seems like the most benign hiking trail can result in a twisted ankle, pulled muscle, or worse if you don’t prepare properly. The most effective method of readying your body for the rigors of the trail is consistent stretching.
It is suggested stretching all of the main muscle groups used in hiking, but also pay attention to your particular needs, and take them into account. If you have weak ankles, make an extra effort to strengthen them. Same goes for calf muscles, tight hamstrings, and any other muscle group you may have issues with.
First up: activate and strengthen your core. Having a strong core is imperative for successful hiking, and affects every other part of your body. The core muscles consist of your abdomen, hips and lower back.
Second is what are arguably one of the most important muscle groups when it comes to hiking—the quadriceps. These are the muscles on the front of your thighs, and are responsible for most of the power generated during hiking. The quads also help extend and straighten your knee with each step, so it’s important to keep them limber.
Next up are the hamstrings, which work together with the quadriceps to carry you forward as you make your way along the trail. Tight hamstrings can result in extreme discomfort on the hiking trail, and in severe cases, can cause pulled or torn back muscles.
Last (but not least) on the list are calf muscles—a muscle group key for hiking. These powerhouses support each step, flexing and pivoting as you move along the trail.
Learn specific stretches here…