With warmer weather and longer days around the corner we’ll soon have access to trails that have required snowshoes or spikes over the last few months. Before you dust off your hikers, some prep is in order to avoid injury and cutting your hiking season short! This is especially the case if you’ve been hibernating this winter season, anxiously awaiting good weather. Here are some suggestions on how prep for the active spring and summer seasons ahead of us!
To start, get moving! Improve your cardiovascular health with exercises that increase your heart rate. My personal favourite is the ever-dreaded stair master. I find that it mimics the uphill climb of a trail in a controlled environment. An alternative is walking on a treadmill with an incline. If you feel comfortable, try intervals of not holding on to the machines since most trails don’t have that kind of support!
It’s also important to increase your lower body strength with exercises like squats, lunges, and step-ups (just to name a few). Begin with just body weight and gradually add some weight. The more conditioned these muscles are the less prone they will be to strain from the climb. Coming down the trail can require just as much energy as going up, especially if you’re carrying a heavy pack! To mimic the downhill you have to engage your muscles through eccentric exercises. An eccentric muscle contraction is the engagement of an active muscle as it is lengthening under a load. Use a box, step, or stair to add step-downs to the workout. Stand with both feet on the step, balance on your right as you tap the left heel to the ground then return to the starting position. Alternate sides! The Kbox is another great way to train the eccentric component of muscle contraction. (we can link the kbox blog here).
Don’t forget about your core! The core gives our body stability, providing a strong foundation to create movement from. Without good core activation, muscles in the body have to work harder to produce movement, predisposing us to injury. My favourite core exercises are variations of deadbug and dynamic planks! If you don’t have a go to core routine (crunches and sit-ups don’t count), ask your Chiropractor to assess your core strength and prescribe you exercises accordingly. The same goes for any exercises mentioned above that you may be new to.
A Chiropractor will complete a biomechanical assessment and guide you through the exercises to ensure you’re doing them correctly.