Finding your joy out in nature is like nothing else, and there are endless opportunities and locales to discover, explore, and enjoy. However, hiking requires a great deal of preparation, such as learning to read a compass, knowing basic first aid skills, and, otherwise, how to remain safe out in the wilderness.
Along with safety and survival skills, you also need to prepare your body physically; a strong body with endurance and flexibility is a must for a safe outdoor adventure.
Too often, wayward hikers find that they have taken on too much of a good thing. Underestimating the physicality of a trail’s features or the hike’s distance leaves many at risk, sometimes needing search and rescue.
As you gather the necessary equipment and learn outdoor survival skills, take the time to condition your body well. By preparing thoroughly, your hiking adventures will be much more rewarding.
You certainly don’t need to be an Olympian to enjoy a hike, but you do need to be fit.
- Consider your endurance before you get out in the wild.
- Can you walk, jog, or run any significant distance with comfort and confidence?
- Are you able to do a variety of bodyweight exercises with ease?
- Do you experience any joint pain or dysfunction to the extent that moving in specific ways is painful, difficult, or even impossible?
Areas of weakness in any aspect of your fitness may ruin your hike.
- For example, can you perform a full squat while fully geared up?
- If not, the first time you have to tie up your boots and then stand up while wearing a pack will be a shock.
2) Get Used to Your Gear:
If you have purchased equipment such as hiking boots, pack, ropes, axes, and other outdoor gear, you must be entirely familiar with it.
- Try out your boots and packed gear by finding a trail or path close to home.
- By wearing the gear in this manner, you can ensure that you are not pushing your physical limits.
- It may be that you are unable to carry the amount of gear needed; now, you have time to build your strength and endurance.
3) What About Your Back?
Back pain and dysfunction are relatively common. So too is neglecting back strength and flexibility exercises.
A great way to ruin your hike is to underestimate how hard your back will need to work, particularly if you are wearing a pack.
Also, consider the hiking terrain you are taking on; flat trails are one thing, but switchbacks, ladder climbs, rope bridges, and steep inclines will put your back to the test.
4) Your Feet Matter:
Hiking means that you will be on your feet, often on tricky terrain and during extreme weather.
- There is nothing more painful than feet beat up by boots, blisters, aching arches, and swollen ankles.
- Invest in a quality pair of comfortable hiking boots from the get-go; wear them around before your hike to ensure that they will work well.
In addition, you may want to consider purchasing orthotic insoles and bringing compression socks along for the hike to ensure your comfort and longevity on the trail.
5) Apres Hike:
While you are training for your hike and following your weekend adventures, provide your body with some recovery and relief.
- Follow each outing with a thorough, total body stretch.
- Evaluate yourself for points of pain, injury, and weakness.
- Allow your body to heal fully before striking out again.
If you found yourself struggling with any aspect of your hike, adjust your training accordingly. It may be that you need to really focus on your core strength, or it may be that your legs need a concentrated effort. For others, their flexibility may need work; getting a pack on and off while fully loaded is no small feat.
Hiking and exploring nature is a brilliant way to stay fit and enjoy our world; just be sure that you are ready to take on the challenge!