A guide to effective stretching for hiking and outdoor activity.
Warm-up and Stretching Tips
Warming up and stretching will decrease the risk of injury or muscle strain during your outdoor activity. Here are some basic tips for a warm up and stretch prior to a hike or long excursion.
1. Stretch slow and controlled without bouncing or jerking.
2. Breathe. Be careful not to hold your breath.
3. Hold each stretch for 30 – 60 seconds (holding a stretch for a long period of time can cause the muscle to retract)
4. Avoid uncomfortable stretches. Stretching should not cause you to feel pain.
5. Do not stretch cold muscles. Stretching is most effective after a warm up. Try walking at an easy pace for 10 minutes before you stretch.
UPPER BODY - ARM SWINGS
Stand with feet shoulder width apart and arms level with shoulders. Stretch arms out to the side and behind you, bringing them across in front of torso.
UPPER BODY - SHOULDER AND ARM CIRCLES
Rotate shoulders with hands on shoulders (increase the range of motion by swinging arms straight overhead).
LOWER BODY - SQUATS
Start with feet shoulder width apart and toes slightly angled out. Ensure back/torso remain erect, chest upright, abs tight. Keep heels flat on ground, and lower hip and torso to a seated position (do not squat lower than 90 degrees).
LOWER BODY - ELBOW TOUCHES
Standing with legs shoulder width apart and arms to the side. Keep torso straight and lift leg up to opposite elbow in front of the body. Alternate elbows with opposite knees.
FRONT BODY - HIP FLEXOR STRETCH
With one leg in front of the other, stand with a generous stride. Front knee bent at a right angle, and foot flat on floor. Torso erect, extend both arms overhead. Look upward to hands. Press hip forward until you get a good stretch in your forward leg/hip. (Hold onto a tree or post for balance if needed.)
FRONT BODY - FROG STRETCH
Stand with legs generously apart, wider than shoulder width. Squat down keeping heels flat on the floor, with hands out in front, and feet and knees turned out to remain in alignment. Press knees open with elbows (Ideal stretch to prepare hips and legs for climbs that involve facing into the wall with legs apart.)
BACK BODY - SPINAL ROTATION STRETCH
Place left foot up on high surface, hips and toes forward. Twist torso to the left, with right hand on left knee.
LOWER BACK AND HAMSTRING STRETCH
Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Bend torso at hips, while maintaining a slight bend in the knees. Walk hands forward on the ground, or hold onto each leg while relaxing lower back muscles.