It’s common to think about doing body stretches when exercising for things like running, swimming or cycling, but many of us fail to realise that when we go bushwalking or hiking, we are athletes too and should treat our bodies as such. So what are the best stretches for hiking, bushwalking or trekking?
I’m not a physio or an expert, so I asked a mate who is not only a health professional, but a member of my bushwalking club! He knows the ouches and strains that we put our bodies through when bushwalking. Here’s the stretches he recommends for hikers to help our bodies be the best they can be… and remember, you should always consult the appropriate professionals on any matter that is related to your safety, fitness, health and well being before proceeding with any action.
Don’t forget that stretching soon after a hike is much better than before, as you’re warmed up and there’s less chance of injury.
Click on each of the links to be taken to various YouTube clips for detailed instructions (and alternatives) for each stretch and I’ve also put together this handy PDF cheatsheet that you can download!
Best Stretches for Hikers
- Adductor (Groin) Stretch – Our groin/adductor region can suffer from long days on the track. Being able to open up this area and release tightness here can be a great relief.
- Gastrocnemius (Calf) Stretch (sitting) – Our calf muscles work hard for us all day on the track and help with ankle and knee stability. Time to give them some love.
- Gastrocnemius (Calf) Stretch (standing) – This is the more common way of stretching this when you’re out on the track. Just look for a tree!
- Glute Stretch (lying) – This is not only great for the glutes, but can help with reducing lower back pain. Ahhhhh.
- Hamstring (seated) – Be gentle on yourself and your body. If you can’t reach your toes, keep knees bent or simply reach towards the toes with straight legs. Don’t bounce or push to pain.
- Hamstring (lying) – You can also use a towel for this one. A nice chance to look up through the trees!
- Illiopsoas (standing) – This is one of my personal problem areas and so I love this stretch!
- Illiopsoas (kneeling) – Don’t forget a pillow under the knee for this one. The leaning forward can be optional and makes the stretch harder.
- Illiopsoas (lying) – And just ‘cos I need lots of these… here’s a 3rd alternative and borrows from pilates.
- Lateral Rotators (kneeling) – Loads of options in this video, so make sure you find that one that’s right for you.
- Medial Rotators (lying) – Another popular one for gazing at the sky… whilst not forgetting to breath!
- QL and Lat Dorsi (seated) – Don’t stress if you can’t cross your legs (I can’t!), just refer to the photo in the downloadable with one leg out in front.
- QL and Lat (standing) – Such a nice stretch… ah!
- Quadriceps (kneeling) – Remember to be gentle and pad your knee. That leaning forward bit is the more advanced, so just do what you can do.
- Quadriceps (standing) – Where’s that handy tree again? Just in case?
- Quadriceps (lying) – From 01:30 you’ll find this alternative for quad stretch.