Hiking is good for you and keeps you young. In addition, regular hiking ensures that our muscles get enough variety from the often one-sided office routine. But did you know that hiking is not only good for body and mind, but a real miracle cure for healthy and trained muscles? The effects that hiking can have on our bodies are often underestimated. And that’s why we’re taking a close look at the muscle stress that comes with hiking.
Hiking uses exactly those muscles that are important for your body to keep the supporting apparatus upright. Namely, these are the leg, back and abdominal muscles. These carry you in balance and provide the necessary stability when walking upright.
Therefore, hiking is basically responsible for a double effect. When walking, you walk at a brisk pace and are in constant motion, this uses the exact muscle groups needed for a healthy and fit gait. In other words, hiking activates the right muscles, which you in turn need to be able to hike in the first place. A classic training effect.
How the muscles work – important information about muscle use
In order not to lose this effect, a little knowledge about how the muscles work during hiking is necessary. After all, your body wants to be supplied with enough energy at the beginning of a hiking day, while at the end of the hike your muscles require a bit of care and regeneration so that you are soon fit again for the next hiking challenge.
Who does not know? Most jobs nowadays are done sitting down. Office jobs require a lot of work at the desk and computer. Unfortunately, this is not good news for your spine. Sitting for long periods of time causes discomfort such as posture problems or a weakening of the muscles in the trunk area. Hiking is a remedy and a day in the countryside is much more exciting than any stretching exercises.
Hiking trains evenly all parts of your trunk muscles. The more pronounced it is, the more the spine is relieved and thus the mobility of your body is improved. A well trained trunk area is an important factor for your health. Plenty of exercise protects against common ailments.
This is how your muscle groups are challenged while hiking!
Since hiking demands all these muscle groups equally, you can already say that hiking is living health prophylaxis. It also gives me a lot of pleasure. This certainly can’t be said of every piece of advice you get at the doctor’s office.
When you’re hiking, you’re reaching your limits – your body’s limits – and that’s a good thing. Only those who discover their own limits know how far they can go. Hiking should support your health and not burden it.
If you know your limits, you can better adjust to hiking and choose the right difficulty and intensity of the next tour, thus avoiding too much strain on your body. If this is above the normal ratio, injuries and discomfort to the muscles, ligaments, tendons and joints can result.
Self-assessment – also the be-all and end-all when hiking!
Therefore, it is the supreme duty of every hiker to always be able to assess himself or herself correctly. It is best to ask yourself the following questions at the beginning of your hike:
- How is my well-being today? Am I fit and rested enough for the challenges in the hours ahead??
- What is my current performance level? Have I trained enough for the following route or is it better to choose an easier one with less steep ascent and descent?
- Have I provided my body with enough energy (such as with the help of an athlete’s breakfast) and have I packed enough provisions for later on? After all, your muscles demand energy as you move from one hiking trail to the next. Muesli, wholemeal bread, nuts and fresh fruit and vegetables are perfect.
Those who prepare themselves and their muscles effectively have a clear advantage!
To make sure your muscles work as they should and nothing gets in the way of your hiking experience, remember to prepare properly. A sensible approach is staggered according to several points in time. Long from the hiking project, at Hiking day itself, directly After the hiking and afterwards, when the day comes to an end after your tour.
Prepare for hiking in advance: Long before you set off on your hiking tour, it is advisable to do some sports that will prepare you for the strain of hiking. Sports in the great outdoors are ideal to get used to outdoor exercise and anything that is good for stamina. Examples of this are running, cycling or swimming.
If not already done, in this period you should think about the hiking equipment and look out accordingly. Top priority is given to good footwear, because this will keep you safe on the trail and support your muscles in their work.
A good start to the day is the basic prerequisite for effective hiking
Start the day well: If you are ready for your very first hike, or if you are already more experienced, you can get ready for the following hike right in the morning. Sleep is very important for your muscles and you should not venture into the countryside without rest, especially if you plan to hike off the beaten track.
Start the hiking itself slowly, preferably with a few stretches to get the muscles going and to warm up. Don’t forget to lace up your hiking boots, because after about half an hour your feet will also get warm and start to expand. In the process, the shoe widens and begins to sit loosely. With the Nachschnuren you prevent too loose stop of the moving shoes.
What to look for when buying hiking boots, we tell you in our "What to look for when buying hiking boots" Guide. Because also the relevance of the right footwear for hiking should not be underestimated!
Give your muscles a break after hiking – but do it right!
After arrival: Immediately after reaching your goal, of course, your muscles deserve a break. But first do some loosening up, a little stretching and stretching, this will once again provide blood circulation and help your muscles to regenerate afterwards.
Regeneration of the musculature: You have made it, a strenuous but eventful hiking day is behind you. No matter if you are going on tomorrow because you have booked a whole hiking vacation including hotel stay or if you are going to start the working week again the next day, your muscles need a certain regeneration after hiking.
With enough sleep you can better control the strain on your muscles
First things first, get enough sleep: if you’ve hiked a lot, you need to sleep a lot too. A restful sleep is the best way for your muscles to recover after an exhausting day.
If you are staying in an equipped hotel or one is near you, use the swimming pool. Light and calm swimming helps to come down after a long day, the movement increases the blood circulation once again before falling asleep and the buoyancy in the water prevents too much strain on your muscles.
The hotel on your vacation also has an impact on your hiking success
Otherwise, when you book your next hiking vacation, pay attention to what offers a hotel on site for regeneration and recreation. It is best to go to a special hotel that has many extras for hiking vacationers.
If available, a visit to the sauna after hiking does not hurt either. The heat also leads to increased blood flow and provides a muscle-relaxing effect. But important: Always go to the sauna only after a sporty effort, never before it!
In order that the regeneration of your muscles does not take too much time, you can take precautions with a few tips before the hiking tour, so that everything and everyone arrives safely at the destination.
Use smart tips and tricks to properly manage muscle stress while hiking
The following suggestions will not only make your walking easier, but will also protect you from injury. Because hiking usually takes place in the great outdoors and in the terrain. So it is good to follow a few basic rules.
Everything falls and stands with the right choice of the walking route. Especially beginners should not overestimate themselves and rather start with easy tours on paved paths and lower gradient. In addition, it is advisable to always anticipate changes in the weather and to take into account, when planning the hike, how long a sudden return to the starting point would take and where there are intermediate shelters, just in case. That’s why a charged cell phone definitely belongs in every hiker’s backpack, so you can call for help quickly in case of an emergency.
Likewise, when deciding on the route, remember that a descent is much more demanding for the muscles, as well as for the knees, than the ascent. Otherwise, to prevent problems, just pack a pair of hiking poles. This applies equally to footwear. Good outdoor shoes provide support and are a must for any hiking gear.
Don’t forget: The descent also involves effort for the muscles!
Another must is a good self-assessment. You need to be able to manage your own strength before you go hiking. Do not forget to think about the possible difficulties on the descent. In addition, the energy reserves are no longer as full on the way back as they were at the start of your tour.
When planning your hike, always take into account whether there are any pre-existing strains in certain muscle areas or in the knee. Otherwise, consult your doctor or physiotherapist before hiking. This information is especially urgent if you are currently undergoing rehabilitation or medical care, such as after a sports injury.
Walking therefore means learning to determine one’s strength correctly. If you are walking off-road, you must also pay attention to altitude. Your muscles need a constant supply of oxygen for full functionality. The higher you go, the thinner the air becomes and difficulties in breathing and in the muscles can occur. Especially beginners of the hiking hobby should avoid too high altitudes.
Walk slowly and deliberately – use sure-footedness to preserve your muscles and hike skillfully to your destination
Otherwise it is advisable to be attentive. Slow and deliberate steps are better than rushing when hiking. But don’t worry, surefootedness can be practiced. Controlled steps save your joints and muscles. Besides, the beauty of hiking lies in its tranquility. And this is after all what we all want to enjoy.
Hiking and muscles is a subject in itself, but with a little hiking training in advance, a good breakfast to start the day and a little wellness to recover, your muscles will be ready for any hiking challenge.