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Stretching for Hikers

Minute Read

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Posted 2 months ago

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Last updated: 04/12/2022

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by James McCormack

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.

Best Stretching for Hikers

Quadriceps Stretch 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.

  • Stand upright and bring the heel of the affected leg towards the back of the hip until you feel a pull on the front of the thigh.
  • Keep your knees together and in line with each other
  • Hold for 45 seconds
  • Repeat 3-4 times daily

Gluteal Muscle Stretch for Hiking

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.

  • Lie on your back and place the heel of the affected leg on the opposite knee.
  • Hug the thigh of the unaffected leg and pull it towards your
  • Stop and hold once you feel a stretch on the affected leg.
  • Hold for 45 seconds
  • Repeat 3-4 times daily

Hamstring Stretch for Hiking

The Hamstring muscles are located at the back of the thigh. They help bend your knee and assist with hip extension, especially uphill walking.

  • Place the affected leg straight in front of you in a seated position.
  • Keep the knee straight and reach down towards it.
  • Once you feel a pull on the back of your leg, hold this position.
  • Hold for 45 seconds
  • Repeat 3-4 times daily.

Gastrocnemius Stretch for Hiking

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.

  • Standing upright, place one leg straight behind you and your other in front.
  • Keep the heel of your hindfoot on the floor and lean against the wall.
  • Once you feel a pull on the back of your leg, stay in this position
  • Hold for 45 seconds
  • Repeat 3-4 times daily

Soleus Stretch for Hiking

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.

  • Stand upright with the affected leg behind you.
  • Keep the knee straight on the leg behind with a slight bend on the knee in front.
  • Move forward on the front leg while keeping both heels on the floor
  • Stop moving forward once you feel a stretch on the back leg
  • Hold for 45 seconds
  • Repeat 3-4 times daily.

Plantar Fascia Stretch for Hiking

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.

  • Stand upright with your toes up against a step.
  • Bend your knee over your toes until you feel a stretch on your foot.
  • Hold for 45 seconds
  • Repeat 3-4 times daily.

Tibialis Anterior Muscle Stretch for Hikers

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:

  • Kneel on the floor with your foot pointed down
  • Sit back onto your heels until you feel a stretch on the front of your shin.
  • Hold for 45 seconds
  • Repeat 3-4 times daily.

Physiotherapy with James McCormack

This is not medical advice. We recommend a consultation with a medical professional such as James McCormack. He offers Online Physiotherapy Appointments for £45.

Related Article: Achilles Tendonitis: Symptoms and Treatment

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