Hiking is no different, here’s our go-to hiking warm-up.
Walking is one of the most underrated exercises due to its low intensity. Though, walking has been proven to increase bone density, build strength in your glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, and the muscles around your hips and lower legs. Add a rucksack to your back and use hiking poles and you’re going to be working your upper body too. But before you start, you need to ready yourself. As with any workout you need to warm-up, here’s how:
1) Break a sweat
Many advise simple stretches before a hike. But, before getting to specific body areas, it’s always good to work up a sweat through full body movement. Jog on the spot or perform jumping jacks until you start feeling warm or break a sweat (usually five to ten minutes). This applies to exercise across the board, so start building these into any activity you do or even when you wake up in the morning, you’ll soon see the benefits.
- Gently begin jogging on the spot or performing jumping jacks until you feel warm and break a sweat.
2) Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes
Not to the letter of the nursery rhyme, but we will move in a downward trajectory. Start by rotating your arms in full circles, keeping the arm straight and moving the hand and arm forward and down past the hip, then behind and over the top of the shoulder. Complete this 10 times forwards and 10 times backwards for each arm.
Now perform 10 forward shoulder rolls and 10 backward. To roll your shoulders simply move them forward or backward in a circular motion.
- 10 forward arm rotations on each arm, 10 backward arm rotations on each arm.
- 10 forward shoulder rolls, 10 backward shoulder rolls.
To warm up your back place one arm straight in the air, and the other arm downward alongside its adjacent leg. Now, lean to one side as if trying to touch the ankle with the downward facing hand. Repeat these 10 times on each side.
Next, bring your hands up to the ears as if you were about to perform a squat, and twist your torso to each side at around 45 degrees. You might get some satisfying back clicks whilst performing these. Don’t worry, as long as you’re not going past 45 degrees, this is just air pockets in your joints and not anything to worry about. Make sure you get 10 twists to each side.
- 10 standing ankle touches on each side.
- 10 standing torso twists on each side.
4) Hips Don’t Lie
Now it’s time to work those hips. Have you ever done the macarena? Place your hands on your hips and rotate those babies in a circular motion as one would in the “hey macarena” section of the song. No need to jump in a 45-degree angle here though. And, don’t start singing. Complete 10 rotations each side.
- Perform 10 hip rotations in both left and right directions.
For your knees, raise one knee upward and in front of you to about 90 degrees so it is in line with your hip. Now attempt to straighten your leg out in front of you, then gently swing back and forth 10 times. But, don’t overstretch, it’s better to get a small swing going to warm up the knee. Not many of us can straighten that leg, but with regular relaxed warm ups like this you’ll increase your flexibility over time.
- Perform 10 leg raises on each side.
6) Calves and Ankles
To warm up those calves simply stand on your tiptoes 10 times.
Finally, lift your knee to 90 degrees as with the knee warm up, but this time simply rotate your foot in circles. 10 to the right and 10 to left on each foot will do the job nicely. You are ready! Time to hike.
- Stand on your tiptoes 10 times.
- Perform 10 ankle rotations in both left and right directions, for each foot.
This warm up will get your body at optimal temperature and your blood flowing nicely, priming you to tackle your walk or climb at your best. It also doubles up as a great morning routine or a general warm up for sports or exercise. But, warming up isn’t going to protect you entirely, always take things slowly and don’t make sudden jolting movements before you’ve broken a sweat, especially on rough terrain. Always remember to stretch off when you get home, otherwise the next morning the stairs may prove more difficult than the hike.