Scotty majored in physio, so you could say he knows his way around a pair of legs. Here are his top post-hike stretches to keep you limber.
I woke up on day three of hiking the beautiful Northern Circuit of Wilsons Promontory National Park to highly uncomfortable tightness in my lower back, hamstrings, quadriceps and calves. Thinking back to the days before, I remembered arriving at camp after slogging out 20km, throwing down my pack, sitting down and doing sweet bugger all whilst I lazily attempted to convince my hiking buddies to start cooking dinner. Although sometimes being sore and stiff after some big days is inevitable, there’s definitely a case to suggest that a good ol’ cool down and post-hike stretch will help keep you nimble, limber and less-in-pain for the next day’s slog.
I know what you’re thinking, stretching… the thing we all say we need to do more of and never do. Even saying the word in my head makes me grimace, as I tell myself I’ll do it more and look after my body.
Hiking Stretches to Do Before Setting Up Camp
Stretching is so great for our life-giving bodies, it’s underrated and underdone. These hiking stretches and techniques will improve your flexibility, increase your body’s range of motion, increase blood flow to needed areas, improve posture and help performance in physical activities.
So, after a solid day on the track, try to remember to give your body a little love. After all, it’s just been through hell and back to get you to a little slice of paradise. After giving yourself and ya mates a slap on the back, have a proper cool down and stretch. You’ll prevent tightness, stiffness, soreness, strains and pulls.
About five minutes before reaching camp, where possible, gently slow your pace to allow your heart rate to slow down and lower your body temperature. Before racing to set up your tent and shove food down ya belly, here’s a good list of stretches and muscles you should target.
Bend one arm over your head and down towards your back. Bend your other arm around your ribs and up your back, and try to grab a hold of your fingertips. Hold for a good 10-15 seconds and switch it up.
Whilst standing, cross your feet over and do a forward bend. Back straight, knees unbent. Switch feet and execute again.
Whilst standing, find a tree, place your heel on the ground and the ball of the foot against the tree. Keep the knee straight and lean into the tree. Scream an almighty thanks to the physiological gods for blessing you with such lovely calves.
Your bulging quads are next. Using a tree for stability, stand on one foot and grab your other leg (by the shin or foot) and pull it towards your butt. Try to keep the knee pointing downwards. Feel that sweet burn for 30 seconds, switch.
Oooo yeah, get into that lunge, baby! See, isn’t stretching fun? Go into a forward lunge, keep your front knee and foot and a right angle, press that chest high, straighten the rear leg and push those hips forward. Hold and switch.
Last one, the bum! Lie down on your back, bring your right foot onto your left knee. Grab your left shinbone with both hands and pull it into your chest, feel it in your right glute. Repeat on the other side.
Complacency gets the better of all of us, especially when we finish a hard day on the track with a big pack. After using your body strenuously all day, give a little love back and give yourself the best chance of crushing tomorrow.
Make this into a routine. Even when you stop for a snack, spend a few minutes stretching some of the muscles that are doing the hard yards and taking you to wild places. Keeping a good bodily range of motion, loosening the muscles and reducing tightness will help keep your future body tip-top, adventure ready and limber.