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You need the best post hike recovery tips after hauling that backpack all day!
In fact, you deserve to know every single trick I have tried to get back on the trail the next day (or next week end) without feeling creaky, stiff and sore.
None of these recommendations are medical advice.
I'll be using Pharmaca products (affiliate links) to illustrate post hike recovery strategies, for these reasons.
So let's get to it :)
When a sore, achy muscle group (think thighs) is calling out for something warm and soothing, there are various ways you can deliver an appropriate amount of heat.
A roll-on gel that fits easily in your hand is so easy to use for applying heat to achy muscles, sore feet, knee or elbow pain.
It's also available in a 4 ounce jar to use at home.
What's NOT in this product is important to highlight.
There are no:
And you can feel good about this natural pain relieving gel because it was not tested on animals (one of the hallmarks of Pharmaca products).
There is also no chance of staining your clothing or gear with this non-greasy formula.
So what's in it that creates soothing warmth on your sore muscles, aches and pains?
Lots of other good stuff, too:
Want to carry something even smaller and lighter weight on your next backpacking trip?
Use this 2 ounce tin from a company that I love for their lotions and balms:
Badger Sore Muscle Rub with cayenne essential oils
You have a lot (seriously, a LOT!) of small muscles, ligaments and tendons in your feet, and every one of them can scream at you after you take your boots off.
Here's one way to calm them down: Topricin Foot Therapy
Apply this lotion and pull on a pair of clean socks for warm, pampered hiking feet.
Sometimes a sore muscle responds best to cold applications.
Here's an easy way to apply cool relief to a sore area:
Put this buckwheat (whole seeds to absorb cold) soft pad into the freezer, inside a plastic bag, before you leave for your hike.
After your hike, wrap the sore muscle group in this coolness.
In my experience, the coldness lasts for 20 - 25 minutes.
The cloth prevents direct contact of the frozen seeds with your skin.
Here's a way to make your relief go even further:
So that means you'll need two of these wraps!
Tip: you can remove the cover on this wrap, toss it in the washing machine, and be all set before your next hike.
A smaller, instant approach to cooling down your sore muscles:
Squeeze to activate these single use instant cold packets when you know you'll be away from a source of ice after a hike.
Store one in your first aid or emergency kit to calm down insect bites or bring swelling down after an injury, too.
If you're like most hikers, your neck and shoulder muscles become sore by the end of a hike.
By the next morning, you're ready for this neck and shoulder wrap from a company I trust: Gaiam.
It's filled with unhulled grains of rice plus a lovely lavender scent, so you can warm it up in the microwave time and time again for soothing warm relief.
This company also makes lower back and wrist//thumb wraps: all places where a hiker could use a little soothing warmth.
Wrapping your sore spots in warmth really does the job of loosening up your tight muscles so that you're ready for the next post hike recovery tip for general hiking soreness:
an Arnica Muscle Soak in your bathtub.
Weleda is a well known name in the natural product industry, and for good reason: it uses top ingredients with an eye toward good business practices.
Adjust the water temperature to your preferred level of heat, pour a few capfuls of this muscle soak into the tub, and enjoy the sensation of tight muscles loosening up while you daydream about your next hike.
Post hike recovery tips should include basic self care like focused massage.
Here's one of the most straightforward and effective ways to relieve those deeply sore spots (called trigger points) on your shoulders, arms, legs and neck:
The bumps are your secret weapon to press on those sore points!
What about sore places on your back that you can't quite reach?
I wouldn't take these things hiking or camping because of their odors or weight, but you might want to try them at home!
We've talked about cayenne pepper (capsicum) being employed as a topical vasodilator to encourage blood flow to your tight, sore muscle groups.
This product is THE BEST at creating a sensation of warmth in a specific area (I've been using it since the 1990's).
However, it has a strong odor: not unpleasant, just noticeablly menthol and camphor.
NOTE: You don't want to get this product in any area of mucous membranes: eyes, mouth, genitals.
Ditto for broken skin, burns, or other types of wounds.
If you're breast feeding, be very careful to wash your hands and nipple areas to avoid transfer of the cayenne.
And to play it safe in terms of possible skin reactions, test this on a small spot first.
So after all of those warnings, you might be hesitant to try Tiger Balm. Don't be! It's one of my tried and true approaches to post hike recovery.
You've already been introduced to small, localized trigger points.
Here is a Gaiam pressure point massager for larger areas of your body.
This feels so good on large muscle soreness!! It's one of my favorite post hike recovery tips to share when someone emails for solutions.
And because you control the pressure and duration of the massage, you can tailor your self care session to differences in pain and soreness levels.
Off trail tip:
Use this massager after a session at the gym, or when you're kept off the trail and feel lots of stiffness from sitting at a desk.
If you've been reading about antioxidants and muscle recovery products, you might have heard these plants and foods mentioned:
This product pulls them together for post hike recovery.
Or on a hike!
Secret post hike recovery tip for you:
Hiking For Her will be reviewing some of these products in depth, and adding more post hike recovery tips, so bookmark this page and check back often.
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