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.
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.
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.
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.
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.