During the colder winter months, we find ourselves longing for weather warm enough to allow us to get out and stretch our legs on a trail. Maybe one of your favorite things to do on a beautiful day is to see nature, take in the sunshine and fresh air, and get a little exercise while you do it.
It’s warming up and hiking weather is here, so we have a few activities we recommend multiple times a week to keep yourself prepared for those spring hikes.
- Warm up on recumbent bike/elliptical: while this may not be anywhere near as scenic as going out to a nearby park, 10-15 mins on a rec. bike is a great way to get your heart rate up and work some of the same large muscle groups in your legs you will need for hiking. If you can get in 30 mins at a time, that’s even better. Ellipticals are also good low impact alternatives that you can take advantage of often. You
- Step ups/lunges: These two exercises are great closed-kinetic chain activities that help maintain functional quad strength. You’ll need those quads on the hiking trail.
- Leg raises and knee curls: Commonly we have patients do 4 way SLR (straight leg raises) and knee curls in standing or while lying on a table. Sometimes you can take these a step further and perform SLR in plank positions to incorporate core and arm stability. As with any exercise maintaining good form and muscle control is key.
- Lower extremity stretches: We encourage patients to regularly stretch throughout the day. The sorer a joint/muscle is, the more often that area should be stretched. A quick Google search will show plenty of stretches for you to do for tight or sore areas.
In addition to the activities mentioned above, you should incorporate balancing into a lot of your own lower extremity routine whenever possible. We often encourage patients to “hold on to as little as possible” while doing their own exercises as a way to functionally improve balance. Balance plays a big role to safely navigating trails with high levels of difficulty.
Hope these tips help prepare you for an active hiking season. Enjoy the day!