It’s starting to warm up and everybody is looking forward to getting out and hiking our great state. Going out and bagging a 14′er sounds great. But before you do any difficult or strenuous hiking it is a good idea to strengthen your body to help avoid injury. Working on strength and conditioning for hiking can help you avoid various injuries such as ankle and knee sprains, traumatic injuries due to falls, and tendonitis.
A good strength and conditioning for hiking program should include balance activities in addition to strengthening. Balance activities can be as simple as balancing on one leg or standing with your feet in line with each other. There are hundreds of balance activities that can be made more challenging by adding movement or closing your eyes. Improving your balance can make you less likely to stumble or more likely to recover from losing your balance. This can obviously be very important when hiking near drop offs and could save you from potentially serious injuries.
Strengthening your lower body is needed because of the repetitive strains on the muscles usually associated with hiking. Strengthening most muscles in your lower body can be beneficial because we are constantly using our legs to lift us up or down a trail. Exercises can be as simple as clam shells for the hips, squats for the hamstrings and quads, and heel raises for the calves. Working these muscle groups helps the joints to be more stable when hiking and can make hiking easier as well as making hiking easier on the joints. To combine strengthening with balance you can do exercise on one leg.
If you would like us to develop a strength and conditioning for hiking program for you or have questions please contact us.
Jamie Bovay, DPT, CSCS
Atlas Physical Therapy