by Diane Spicer
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.
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You pay nothing extra.
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 Sore No More 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.
Fits easily into an outer pocket on your day pack for warming up your muscles at the start of your hike.
Or for relief at a rest stop along the trail.
It's also available in an 8 ounce jar of warming gel 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 (just us poor sore hikers).
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 just as small and lightweight on your next backpacking trip?
Use this 2 ounce indestructible metal tin from a company that I love for their lotions and balms.
Badger Sore Muscle Rub with cayenne essential oils will warm up your muscles while providing moisturizing action for dry skin.
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: Bucky Body Wrap
Put this buckwheat (filled with 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 from this blanket 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.
If you're like most hikers, your neck and shoulder muscles become sore by the end of a hike.
(If this happens routinely to you, please investigate the possibility that you need a different backpack, using these tips.)
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.
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:
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:
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 noticeably menthol and camphor.
NOTE: You don't want to get this product in any area of mucous membranes: eyes, mouth, nose, 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 that you can use on 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 asks for sore muscle 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 workout at the gym, a yoga session, or when you're kept off the trail and feel lots of stiffness from sitting at a desk or on a plane for endless hours.
Here's a more gentle, but still plenty helpful, approach to getting rid of that soreness you feel after a tough hike.
You want a foam roller that won't fall apart or start flaking into small chunks when you use it.
Not sure what to do with a foam roller? It's simple to use as an aid to gentle stretches, putting pressure on sore spots, and can also be used in a conditioning program.
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!
Something tasty in your water bottle might induce you to drink more often, which is a good policy for hikers.
Talk with your trusted medical care providers to see if this approach will work for you.
Glad you asked!
Magnesium is involved in biochemical reactions in your cells, and it loves to work with other minerals to get big jobs done, like muscle contractions (including cardiac muscle).
Which you just did a lot of, right?
Investigate adding magnesium to your post hike recovery plan.
This powder form is easy to use in cold or hot water.
Yup, it's true: there are some things you can make it a habit to do to skip a lot of your post hike soreness.
For example, investigate the usefulness of compression hiking socks.
What you eat the day before, and during, your hike makes a big difference.
So does starting a hike well hydrated, and remaining that way throughout your hike.
Think of it as digging a less deep hole you'll need to climb out of afterwards.
These Hiking For Her tips will help you!
You don't have to be a devoted practitioner of yoga to reap some benefits from restorative yoga poses.
Here's one of the most simple, because it looks exactly like it sounds, and it helps relax sore and stiff back and leg muscles: Legs Up The Wall (Viparita Karani).
If you think about it, in this pose you're putting your legs in the opposite position they were in during your hike: inverting them by using a solid wall for support, rather than standing and walking on them against gravity.
Here's the gist of the pose:
For details on how to get into this position safely, visit one of the myriad yoga websites for step by step photos.
Then give it a try for up to fifteen minutes.
Devote those fleeting minutes to simply breathing, relaxing, and enjoying the supported feeling as you recover from your soreness.
None of these products will break the bank, plus, your comfort is worth it!
Hiking For Her will be reviewing some of these products in depth, featuring them in giveaways, and adding more post hike recovery tips, so bookmark this page and check back often.
You'd like more hiking self care tips?
Best Post Hike Recovery Tips
About the author
Diane is the founder of Hiking For Her.
She’s been on a hiking trail somewhere in the world for nearly five decades & loves to share her best hiking tips right here.
All rights reserved.
Photo credits: All photos on this website were taken by David Midkiff or Diane Spicer except where noted.
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