Seven Tips for Minimizing Muscle Fatigue While Hiking

Mus­cle Fatigue is one of the lead­ing caus­es of cut­ting a hik­ing trip short. Once your legs give out, it becomes impos­si­ble to enjoy the out­doors, no mat­ter how beau­ti­ful the scenery might be. That’s why it’s impor­tant to treat your mus­cles right before, dur­ing, and after your trip. Keep these tips in mind to increase your mus­cles’ abil­i­ty to han­dle those ups and downs.

Prop­er nutri­tion
Fail­ure to fuel your body before and dur­ing a hik­ing trip can lead to some rough con­se­quences. Your mus­cles need nutri­tion in order to stay in tip-top shape, and stuff­ing your face with McDonald’s isn’t the way to go about feed­ing them. Instead, opt for a snack or meal with high lev­els of carbs and glu­cose at least 30 min­utes before your hike. If you’re spend­ing a lot of time on the trail, pack along some ener­gy bars that are also high in carbs to help regen­er­ate dete­ri­o­rat­ing leg mus­cles.

Stretch­ing
Any­one who spends a lot of time in the gym can attest to the fact that work­ing out is use­less with­out stretch­ing. Pulling those mus­cle fibers apart is actu­al­ly what allows them to heal and grow big­ger. It’s no dif­fer­ent with hik­ing. You need added strength in your legs to make them with­stand long dis­tances. Stretch before and after your hikes, and even dur­ing the mid­dle of them if you’re going long-dis­tance. Yoga is one of the best tools in a hiker’s arse­nal if you’re look­ing to increase your body’s abil­i­ty to go hard­er, longer, and with­stand fatigue. Cou­pled with ample rest, stretch­ing is vital to mak­ing your hik­ing trip an enjoy­able expe­ri­ence.

Short­en your stride
If you find your legs mus­cles fre­quent­ly giv­ing out on you dur­ing your hike, it might help to short­en your stride a bit. Though typ­i­cal­ly great advice for trail run­ners, it can help hik­ers and swift walk­ers too. By con­trol­ling your pace, par­tic­u­lar­ly down­hill, you’ll reduce the pres­sure on your legs and allow for bet­ter cir­cu­la­tion. Begin lift­ing your feet high­er and remem­ber to roll them from heel to toe when con­nect­ing with the ground.

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Drink water
This should prob­a­bly go with­out say­ing, but it’s essen­tial to drink plen­ty of water when hik­ing. Water serves as your mus­cles’ lubri­cant. In a nor­mal sit­u­a­tion, mus­cle fibers con­tract as you walk, caus­ing them to stick togeth­er. Water allows them to glide past one anoth­er more effec­tive­ly, so you don’t wear down as quick­ly. Hik­ers should drink at least one liter per hour in hot cli­mates and high alti­tudes. It’s rare to drink too much while hik­ing, but drink­ing too lit­tle could spell doom for your legs.

Prac­tice your form
The way you walk has a huge impact on your body’s abil­i­ty to main­tain itself over long dis­tances. Using prop­er form is vital in all areas of life, whether you’re sit­ting, stand­ing, or walk­ing. Main­tain your cen­ter of grav­i­ty whether hik­ing uphill or down and avoid­ing hunch­ing over at all costs. If you find you can­not stand straight while walk­ing, you might be car­ry­ing too much weight in your pack. When hik­ing down­hill, remem­ber to keep your legs slight­ly bent to min­i­mize stress on your joints. Adjust your hip belt and using trekking poles to help main­tain con­sis­ten­cy.

Wear the right gear
Your gear plays a large role when it comes to com­bat­ting mus­cle fatigue while hik­ing. Improp­er footwear can throw off your entire gait and pos­ture, so be sure to wear shoes or boots that are made specif­i­cal­ly for hik­ing. Com­pres­sion pants are a great way to help cir­cu­late blood flow in your legs, allow­ing the mus­cles to get the pump they need and main­tain their strength.

Rest
Final­ly, don’t be afraid to stop when you feel your legs giv­ing out on you. Some­times you sim­ply need an extend­ed break. Rather than push your­self, set up camp and spend a few hours relax­ing before get­ting back on the trail. Give your mus­cles the time they need to recov­er, and you’ll have a much more enjoy­able expe­ri­ence on your hik­ing trips.