5 post-trek recovery tips
Most trekkers spend a lot of time in the lead up to their trek ensuring they are in peak physical condition. But what about after the hike? Regardless of the amount of training put into a trek, most people find they have a certain level of ache, pain or strain after returning from a multi day trek. A post-trek recovery routine will help ease your aches and keep your trail legs strong.
Cool down on your way into camp
Recovery should start before you reach camp – after all, the last thing you should do when you finish exercising is to stop completely. When you are 5-10 minutes from camp, reduce your pace to a lower intensity to transition your body from activity to a resting state. Allowing your body to gradually cool down will reduce the risk of cramping, as well as remove lactic acid from your muscles. This is especially important in cooler temperatures, when muscle stiffness is much more prominent.
Once you arrive at camp, consider gentle stretching for five minutes to allow your muscles to relax into a resting state. Stretching restores your muscles to their normal lengths, aiding in their recovery. Focus on the muscles used for trekking, such as calves, hamstrings, hip flexors and quadriceps, and avoid bouncing in and out of the stretch. Rather, move into the stretch until you feel a mild to moderate tension, and hold the stretch for up to 30 seconds.
Eat while setting up camp
Long walks deplete your energy stores, and it’s important to refuel to replace this energy, repair tissues and supercharge your recovery process. Take advantage of the 30-45 minute post-exercise window where your body maximizes the absorption of protein, water and carbohydrates, and aim to eat while you’re setting up camp for the night. Include some high-quality protein and complex-carbohydrates such as granola, energy bars, nuts, and protein such as beef jerky – your body will thank you for it later.
Rehydrate and replace fluids.
You lose a lot of fluid during a long hike, and while you should be replacing it during the walk, many people are in a dehydrated state to some degree when they arrive in camp. Drinking between 1 ½ cups to 2 ½ cups of water per hour for at least 2 hours after exercise is an easy way to boost your recovery, as water supports every metabolic function and nutrient transfer in your body. Just remember to reduce your water intake as you get closer to bed time to limit the amount of times you have to get up in the middle of the night.
Ever heard the saying ‘time heals all wounds’? It’s especially true when it comes to after-hike recovery. One of the best ways to heal from long and difficult hikes is to take the time to rest and allow your body to take care of itself. It’s one of our easiest post-recovery tips, since you literally don’t have to do anything to make the recovery process happen!
Tips to prevent hiking soreness
- Just as cooling down is important post hike, warming up your muscles before you start the hike can do wonders. Stretching and short, moderate intensity walks can help prepare your body for the day ahead.
- Use hiking poles to assist your muscles on long or difficult hikes. These can be especially worthwhile on uneven terrain or when you need to rock-hop.
- Ensure your backpack is sized correctly and avoid carrying a backpack that is too heavy for your frame, or that you are not physically fit enough to carry.
- Minimise the risks of sore feet by wearing proper hiking socks and hiking boots that are broken in.
- Ensure your hike is within your capacity and train for your walk. If you are embarking on a particularly challenging walk, gradually build up to the walk with a training regime.