However, I do know that a person doesn’t have to live in Colorado to regularly hike. All over the world, there are lots of great locations for hiking. Many are probably close to your home too!
If you are a regular hiker, you are likely to be familiar with the workout your body benefits from and the muscles that are heavily targeted (AKA those sore spots). With a lot of hikes and definately trails in Colorado, there is usually an elevation gain. Sometimes it is gradual and more so than not, it involves several hundred to even thousands of feet within a short distance. Of course, it all depends on the trail.
With elevation gains or going uphill, we tend to have a forward flexion of the torso. And as many of you know, the steeper the incline, the more the flexion and staying in this posture for a while will definitely create soreness. So with that being said, take breaks along the way to actually stand upright and when you get to the summit, pursue some chest openers.
A great Chest Opener to try (and anyone can do it): Mountain Pose with hands either on backs of hips or clasped together. Lift the chest towards the sky.
Another thing that occurs going uphill is a constantly “flexed foot” and of course uneven terrain which causes the foot to foot to rotate at the ankle joint every which way means you’ll feel it in your calf muscles and Achilles Tendon.
Try: Downward Facing Dog (DFD) to stretch out the calves. Maybe sit in Figure 4 and rotate your ankles to soothe the Achilles Tendon. You can sit on a rock and extend your legs out, keeping your heels on the ground and point yours toes upward (dorsiflexion) or downward (plantar flexion). Hero’s Pose with tops of feet flat on the ground will also help counteract the constant foot flexion.
Finally, climbing over various boulders and even just going uphill, you are actively engaging those butt and hamstring muscles. So you’ll definately feel it in your legs and butt!
Try: Any version of Pigeon (Prone, Supine, Standing) will definitely help. Also Forward Fold (FF) (Sitting or Standing) will help keep hamstrings flexible.
You’ve heard the saying “what goes up must come down!” A lot of times, a hiking trail involves going uphill and then turning around and going down that same trail.
One thing that I’m super careful about is protecting my knees as going downhill puts quite a bit of stress and pressure on them and the result is miserable knee pain either later in the day or for the next few days! Because of this, I definitely don’t run down hill; however, I witness a lot of younger people doing it. (They will figure it out soon enough).
Another thing, I try to focus on is to actually think about what muscles and tendons interact with the knee. Not to get to complex; here you have the Quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, and even the IT band.
Try: Dancer’s Pose for the Quads, Forward Fold (any version) for the hamstrings, Downward Facing Dog for the Calves. Pigeon (any version), cross legged with arms overhead side bend, or Reverse Triangle for the IT Band.
So there you have it, ten easy poses to add to your hiking adventures. Next time you go hiking, strike a pose at the summit and enjoy the view as you focus (Dristi) and hold the pose! Heck, have your hiking buddy take a picture of you in your pose and share it on Facebook for all of your friends to see. (I put the poses I’ve talked about right here in case you are trying to remember them for your next hike).
1. Mountain Pose Chest Opener
3. Figure 4, Ankle Rotations
4. Dorsiflexion/Plantar Flexion
5. Hero’s Pose
9. Cross-legged Extended Side Bend
10. Reverse Triangle
See you on the trails!