I’ve been there. Well, almost every time I do an intense hike or when I haven’t hiked in a long time, soreness is always a deal that irrationally makes its way around to the body, but that doesn’t always have to be the case. You can absolutely recover from soreness and even better, you can avoid it from happening.
Hiking is a great and beloved outdoor activity and besides the views motivating us, it’s a great way to relax your mind, body, and soul. It comes with levels of strenuous exercises since there’s always that possibility of stepping on rocky pathways, stretching your legs to step over those steep staircases, not catching enough breaks (especially if the trail is a tight area and does not have an area to rest in), and just feeling the burning sensation or stiffness on your abdominals to down your legs.
So, how do you prevent and heal the soreness? I have a few tips for you.
1. First, prevent soreness.
This may have been an obvious one. You can get started before you start hiking to let the soreness consume you. I mean, soreness can delay your energy of wanting to do something else after a hike or it may be felt the next day when you’re at work. You can:
- Stretch and exercise: Stretching is a must when it comes to prior to working out or playing a sport. The same applies to hiking. I wrote a thorough guide of great stretches and exercises to do in a feature article I wrote for the 52HikeChallenge blog right here. Here, you can take some of my useful tips on just how to do it right. Loosen up those straining muscles and say no more to muscle cramps! Another thing, you can also stretch and exercise after hiking.
- Use trekking poles: They are totally guiding pieces of equipment. It reduces the impact you can experience on your knee joints and leg muscles. Useful for both the young and old, even more useful to keep you in a rhythmic equilibrium to a relaxed physical state of mind.
- Do not wear a heavy backpack: It might seem like a smart idea to go with a backpack to help straighten your posture, but it can do more impact to it. First, invest in a good quality backpack and maybe not a run-down secondhand one that looks overused. Secondly, adjust the backpack’s straps to the length of your body. And third, do not overpack it if it can only carry a certain amount of weight (also, the liters of how much a backpack has can help you determine how many items you can fit in).
- Eat a nutritious meal: Food is your energy. Energy means fuel. The best kinds of food to rely on are carbohydrates (for that extra kick of fuel), at least before a hike! After a hike, you should go for that protein. Muscles can perform well when protein is in your diet. Also, watch out for your calorie intake; this depends on your weight of how much you should feast.
2. Be hydrated before, during, and after your hike.
This is one of the hiker’s top rules to always follow. Hydration is key to give you that healthy energy as you sweat through your hiking. Water is an important nutrient in all exercises. Before hiking, you should drink at least one or two cups of water.
When you’re hiking, the amount of water you should bring depends on how long and strenuous the hike is, it’s recommended to drink at least 2 cups (½ liter) of water for every 1 hour of hiking. You may have to increase your intake of drinking water depending on the temperature and intensity of the hike. Regardless of if you feel thirsty or not, you need to drink water.
Not only will it speed the recovery of soreness and repairs your damaged muscles, but drinking water also removes the toxins. Also, drinking fluids with electrolytes is good for you, especially when you’ve been sweating. Electrolytes control the electrical signaling for your muscle and nervous system. It gives you the minerals of sodium, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and more to add those back into your body.
3. Massage yourself or get a massage from a pro.
It’s no doubt a massage is the most relieving way to deal with soreness because it improves the blood flow and reduces inflammation. With your own hands, you can give yourself a massage. You should gently roll your hands or fingertips over the sore spots and having oil on top of it (like olive or almond oil) can make it smoother for you. Many tutorials of proper massaging can be found on Youtube.
You can also consider adding some drops of essential oils into the water if you want to massage your feet or a good foot lotion, where many are available in your local supermarket or discount stores. Using electric massagers are helpful and very functional in massaging your sore muscles. My favorite and easiest way to reduce my pain? Taking a small washcloth and putting hot water over it or as my mom’s trick, taking a glass bottle and filling it with hot water, then rolling either options gently over your sore spots.
If you do not think you’re the best at massaging yourself, why not find a professional masseuse locally? You can always make an appointment with them, do a walk-in, or make it a routine to visit one, especially if you plan to hike once a week.
4. Take a warm bath with some essentials.
Ah, yes, a warm shower or bath feels so good, not just when the winter days are so cold, but for all that soreness. It’s the easiest way to relieve the tension and knots in your muscles, improve the blood circulation, and reduce inflammation (almost the same benefit as a massage).
Get some epsom salt and pour some into your warm bath. Epsom salt is exceptional for muscle recovery and it has a few health benefits: relax the nervous system, cure or reduce skin problems, heal wounds, and expel toxins from your body.
Have you ever tried any of these to ease the pain of sore muscles? Or do you use any of these ways regularly? Soreness is temporary, but it can affect our daily mobility and comfortability when we lead busy lives… but love hiking enough to risk the side effects. 🙂