by Diane Spicer
What's all the fuss about prehiking conditioning and strength?
OK, imagine that you're one of your thigh muscles.
How about one of the quadriceps, perhaps vastus lateralis? That's a major muscle in the front of your thigh.
Now imagine this:
A good long stretch, of course!
Bob Anderson's book will get you started on a lifelong habit of stretching.
Muscles are what I regard as the faithful dogs of the body.
You ask (or demand), they oblige.
So I feel that it's unkind to ask these faithful servants to work hard without a good stretch, both before and after a hike.
Quick and easy stretches will keep your faithful, hard working muscles less prone to aches the next day: a real concern on backpacking trips, really more of a nuisance for day hikes.
Proper body mechanics are important for avoiding backaches or neck strain. It doesn't matter how faithful you are when it comes to prehiking conditioning and strength if you tweak a muscle during a hike, right?
Sounds like a pain to pay attention to how far you thrust your jaw out? Or how you pick up your pack?
Water intake also plays a role, as a vital nutrient for muscle cells.
Cross training can be useful for building prehiking strength and conditioning that really pays off on a hiking trail.
It's fun to watch your level of fitness improve, day by day.
Brisk daily thirty minute (or more) walks, including some inclines and uneven terrain (avoid full time pavement, in other words), will keep your lung capacity and muscle tone at adequate levels.
See if any of these approaches make sense for you.
Two or three times a week, schedule permitting, I do a thirty minute workout on home gym equipment (not being really keen on sweating in public, except while hiking).
I use the stairs at work, being secretly very proud of my "never-use-the-elevator" status.I walk up escalators, or take the staircase right beside it.
I try to stand up a lot and move around during the day.
Did any of those suggestions seem reasonable, like something you could fit into your daily routine?
To sum up, I take my "faithful dogs" out for daily romps in preparation for weekend day hikes and longer backpacking trips.
They love it, and so do I.
The hidden motive here is a consistent fitness level as well as injury prevention:
Tips For Prehiking Conditioning & Strength
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Photo credits: All photos on this website were taken by David Midkiff or Diane Spicer.
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