Tag: Cougar Mountain

Hiking Tips and Tricks for Your Body

After a long, cold, dreary winter, hiking season is finally here! Hopefully you spent the dark months strengthening your legs, back and core for the miles of terrain you will be covering this summer. If not, here are a few tips and tricks to get you through the pain and allow you to enjoy the beautiful scenery that you will no doubt be looking for. Whether you are a veteran hiker or bran new to the sport, these tips will help you make it to the top!

When You Feel the Burn
Anyone who has ever hiked will tell you that the quadriceps muscles start to burn pretty quickly. Most hikers spend their off time strengthening their quads, doing tons and tons of stairs and general walking up hill.

TIP #1 – Strengthen your hamstrings and hips as well not just the quads!! The legs work together, meaning that when your quad is pressing you up, the hamstrings are slowing you down so you don’t go too far. The hips are equally important and help with balance when you step on a rock or a root or slip on snow. Try this exercise to help strengthen the low back, hips, and hamstrings!

Hamstring Curl on Ball

If you are looking for more of a challenge lift your arms off the ground. This will make you more unstable and will activate the core muscles more.

When the Hunger Sets In
On average, hiking burns roughly 500 calories an hour. The body is going to tapping out the energy stores throughout the course of the hike. These energy stores need to be replaced to maintain the activity level.

TIP #2 – Bring plenty of snacks AND water on your hike. DO NOT assume that there will be water on the trail. A blend of fats (preferably nuts), carbohydrates (dried fruit, a Clif bar) and protein (beef jerky, nuts) will help sustain the body during the hike and will help prevent hunger. Take time to stop and enjoy your food and remember the hike will always be there. Breaks aren’t cheating!

Cramps and sore muscles
Hiking is an extremely tough activity; especially on the body. A lot of force and pressure is distributed throughout the body including your joints, ligaments, tendons, and of course muscles. To help prevent cramps, strains or sprains, be sure to stretch sufficiently following the end of a hike.

TIP #3 – The common leg stretches are perfect for the conclusion of a hike. It is a great way to cool down before you jump back in the car to drive home. Make sure you stretch your quads (front of thigh), hamstrings (back of thigh), calf AND soleus (see picture below), and your hip flexors (see picture below).

Common Leg Stretches

  • Feel the stretch through the front of the leg behind you.
  • Make sure you keep your hips even and moving forward.
  • Hold for 15-20 seconds 3 times.

These tips will help to keep you out of danger and help prevent you from getting injured while out on the trail. Proper planning is always needed when attempting any hike. Of course, be sure to tell at least 2 people where you will be and what time you expect to return. By being physically and mentally prepared you are sure to have an amazing hiking season! Hope to see you on the trails this summer!

“I went on all four of SAC’s May hikes and loved it! I’ve hiked with groups before and because I’m not a particularly fast hiker, was left behind. Doesn’t happen with this club. All levels of hikers are accommodated with someone from SAC going with the faster hikers and someone staying with the slower hikers. The members of the Hikers Club I have hiked with so far are friendly and we all work together to get to the top and back to the bottom. I definitely will continue to hike with this group and feel I’ve made new friends!” Cheryl