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Hiking places different stresses on your legs compared to walking on a flat surface. Hence, you must condition your legs to tolerate the differences with strengthening and stretching exercises. Hiking places greater exertion on your calf muscles, hamstrings and gluteal muscles when ascending, while large loads are placed on your quadriceps muscles when descending.
If possible, we recommend static stretching before and after your hikes to help condition your muscles, but if you are stuck for a time, a thorough stretch after hiking is best. This article will provide you with the fundamental stretches for hiking.
The Quadriceps muscle is located on the front of your thigh. It helps to extend your knee, and great exertion is placed on it when descending.
The Gluteal muscles sit at the back of your hip and help extend your hip and control the knee motion. They work throughout the gait cycle, especially walking uphill.
The Hamstring muscles are located at the back of the thigh. They help bend your knee and assist with hip extension, especially uphill walking.
The Gastrocnemius is the power muscle within the calf complex. It works primarily when your knee is straight but is active throughout the push-off phase of walking.
The Soleus muscle sits deep within the calf muscle group, and it is a crucial ankle stabiliser as well as working hard during the push-off phase of walking to plantarflex your foot.
The Plantar Fascia sits on the underside of the foot and provides stability to the arch of the foot. It can become overloaded with a high volume of hiking, and it is essential to keep it mobile to reduce your risk of injury.
Located on the front of your shin bone, the Tibialis Anterior Muscle lifts your foot and works extremely hard when walking uphill.
How to perform:
This is not medical advice. We recommend a consultation with a medical professional such as James McCormack. He offers Online Physiotherapy Appointments for £45.
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