While most of us are good at stretching at the gym or before a run, we often forget to stretch before hiking, climbing, or just as part of the daily routine. It’s important to maintain a stretching program year round in order to prevent injury due to conditions you encounter outdoors like stepping on and over logs, uneven and steep ground, rocks, river crossings, boulders, and twisting and reaching in unnatural positions to find holds.
Stretching before and after a hike or climb combined hiking polls and good boots that provide ankle support, cushion, and traction are the best ways to avoid injury.
Try these stretches designed for hikers, backpackers, and mountaineers at home and at the trailhead keeping the following tips in mind:
• Hold each stretch for a minimum of 20-30 seconds, doing 2-3 reps on each side. If a stretch feels
tighter in specific areas, it is beneficial to stretch those muscles 2-3 times per day.
• Stretch to the point that you feel a good stretch, not pain.
• Make sure that your core muscles are kept tight to help maintain good posture: this ensures that you
are targeting the intended muscle.
• Don’t bounce with the stretch, just hold.
• Not stretching both sides of the body.
• Not keeping other joints straight. (example bending your knee for a Hamstring stretch)
• Not keeping hips and feet pointing forward (on a Hamstring stretch)
• Arching the back because the stomach muscles are not tight (example: Hip Flexor stretch)
With back leg straight, move hips forward until stretch is felt.
Keep back leg slightly bent, with heel on floor, lean into wall until stretch is felt in calf. Use a car, tree, or truck at trailhead.
Place a foot on stool, log, or car bumper, slowly lean forward and keep your back straight, until stretch is felt in back of thigh.
Cross legs, with one on top of the others knee, Gently pull other knee toward chest until stretch is felt in buttock/hip of top leg.
Kneeling on one knee, slowly push your pelvis down while slightly arching back until stretch is felt on front of hip.
For more on hiking and climbing fitness check out the hiking fitness