It’s important to prepare your muscles before any activity, and dynamic stretching prior to hiking can warm up your muscles for carrying the weight of a backpack while walking on uneven terrain. Here are key reasons why it pays to take the time to do these stretches before hiking:
- It helps to improve your range of motion- your muscles like to get to their end range, and we don’t tend to do this in life very often… but they will respond if done consistently
- Dynamic work lubricates the joints and muscles, because motion is lotion, as they say
- Dynamic stretching brings blood flow to the muscles that are about to work
- As a bonus, not that you need one, dynamic stretching helps to prepare the whole body for the work that it is about to do– it elevates your heart rate!
Rules for Dynamic Stretching:
- move through the full range of motion, but keep control; don’t allow momentum to take over with you “flinging” your legs; make sure you are keeping your trunk fairly straight and the movement comes from your hips/ legs
- you will feel tightness at the ends of the movement in both directions, but it should never be painful
- start with slower movements, and progress to faster movement through the whole range of motion of the joint; do 10-15 reps, then switch sides; you may find yourself slightly out of breath as you keep going– it’s going to elevate your heart rate
Check out this video on dynamic stretches to do before hiking, or any of our other “One Minute Wellness” videos on our YouTube channel at Elevation Physiotherapy & Wellness.