To prevent muscle soreness and reduce muscle tension, there are several rules to follow. Here are some that can help you better appreciate the “recovery after a hike”
It is important to recover well after a hike to promote adaptations to the effort, reduce aches, and avoid being too tired in the days following your outing.
In the longer term, it may be necessary to optimize its recovery to reduce the risk of injury, especially tendonitis, which is regularly found in walkers. Let’s see together the different factors on which we can play to better recovery after a hike.
1. Good hydration
During a hike, but more generally during physical activity, being well hydrated is important before, during, and after the effort. The body is made up of 60 to 70% water.
Body fluids play a very important role in the transport of nutrients (especially through the blood), but also in the evacuation of waste through urine. You will then understand that it is essential to ensure that you stay hydrated.
During exercise, the body uses energy and this energy production produces heat. This heat must be regulated so that the body does not overheat; the mechanism that allows this heat regulation is perspiration.
This is why you sweat during an effort: to lower your body temperature. The problem is that the more you sweat, the more water you lose! That’s why you have to drink a lot. The water requirements are greater during an effort.
Our recommendations for proper hydration:
During exercise, stop regularly to drink, every 15-20 minutes. The pipette is very practical for drinking more regularly.
Ideally, if the effort exceeds the hour, your drink should not consist only of water; in fact, when you sweat and walk, you not only lose water, but also electrolytes (salt, potassium, etc.), and you decrease your stock of muscle glycogen.
An optimal drink for exercise should consist of 50% of a drink with electrolytes such as “Powerade, Gatorade” that you can find in your favorite sports store (or in the form of tablets on the internet ), and 50% d ‘water.
For those who want to go further in optimizing their drink, it is wise to add carbohydrates of the “maltodextrin or dextrose” type, to around 40g per liter of drink (to be adjusted according to digestive comfort).
In addition, this type of drink made of electrolytes and carbohydrates will hydrate you more strongly than water alone.
The water requirements vary enormously according to the people, but it is estimated the water loss between 0.5L and 2L of water per hour. This is what you should, therefore, aim for in terms of water consumption during an effort. see our guide 6 actionable way to purify water when hiking and backpacking
2. Eat properly
The hike damages your body in the short term: it creates muscle and tendon damage, bone damage, depletes your glycogen stores, etc. The good news is that your body is a real machine to adapt!
To repair this damage properly, you will need to eat properly DURING and especially AFTER your hike.
Our recommendations for food: Prepare small snacks to eat during your hike: cereal bars, banana.
After your outing, you will have to eat properly to replenish your reserves. Your meal should be made up of proteins, in particular, to repair muscle damage, lipids, and finally a good amount of carbohydrates to replenish your glycogen stocks. Replenishing glycogen stocks is a very important step to recover as quickly as possible.
To sum up, your meal must be balanced, with a special focus on carbohydrates and proteins!
Stretching after the hike will also help rid your muscles of toxins. But they will also help prevent chronic injuries, such as tendonitis. By stretching, you will replace the muscle fibers in the rest position. They will no longer pull on the tendons, thus limiting the risk of inflammation.
6 reasons to stretch for recovery after a hike!
- Stretch because it’s natural
- Stretch to prevent accidental injury
- Stretch to prevent chronic injury
- Stretch to reduce physical fatigue
- Stretch to recover faster
- Stretch to improve your performance
7 essential tips for hiking stretches
- Do not stretch a muscle to the point of pain. “The more you stretch, the more efficient you are” is the wrong approach
- Follow a progression of the stretch without forcing violently
- Avoid blocking your breathing
- Stretch a muscle chain rather than a muscle
- Do not stretch a stiff, tired or stiff muscle
- Stretch muscles after warming up (like a moderate 10 min walk)
- Avoid stretching if your supports are not stable and the weather conditions are not suitable
(we will not hold it against you to not stretch on a ridge in the middle of a snowstorm, let’s be logical ^^)
Our recommendations for stretching:
perform some stretching between 30 seconds and 1 minute for the parts of the body damaged when walking with a bag: calves, quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, back, and shoulders.
4. Massages and treatments
Massages are a very good way to recover faster. They allow the blood to circulate to eliminate toxins, relax and relieve muscles. In addition, tense muscles tend to pull on tendons which are more likely to become inflamed. Massages, therefore, help prevent “tendonitis”.
You can do it yourself or have someone else do it for you, but in any case, be careful what you do because it can do more harm than good. If in doubt, take it easy! 😉
Our recommendations: massage with a massage roller or massage ball, passing over the muscles most used in hiking: underfoot, calves, hamstrings, quadriceps, glutes, and back. Massage each muscle for 2 to 4 minutes, slowly, emphasizing the pain points.
5. Good Sleep: Recovery after a hike
Good sleep. It’s no secret, but sleep is essential to recover well. It’s not for nothing that your body is asking for it after a good day of effort! A good night is ideal, if possible going to bed before midnight, but it is also possible to take short naps (20-30 minutes) to complete the night.
Our recommendations on sleep: The sleep time to target is very variable according to the people. How to know your ideal sleep time? You just shouldn’t need an alarm clock to get up! We generally recommend an average of 8 hours per night.
6. Immersion in cold water
Another recovery technique can be interesting after a long hike. It is the immersion in cold water. It would reduce local inflammation and reduce muscle soreness and damage. Used well it, therefore, improves recovery.
Our recommendations: we recommend immersion in water between 11 and 15 °, between 10 and 15 minutes. If you are in a bivouac and there is a stream or lake nearby, take advantage!
7. Contrasting immersion
The latest advanced recovery technique, it emphasizes vasodilation and vasoconstriction which would improve drainage and recycling of the products of muscle contraction. It involves alternating between immersion in hot water and immersion in cold water.
Our recommendations: you can do this with the showerhead: we recommend alternating one minute with water at 10, and one minute with water at 40 °. All to repeat 7 times. Finish with cold water.
8. Use compression socks
The compression socks are to be worn for a few hours just after exercise (and not during exercise!). By compressing certain parts of the foot and calf, they reduce muscle fatigue and promote the elimination of lactates. They thus help recovery, reducing the heavy legs effect and allowing a faster return to optimal performance.
9. The fresh shower
Start the shower with hot water and gradually lower the temperature. Slowly. Putting cool water on your legs promotes recovery. The cold helps reduce swelling and breakdown of muscle tissue after strenuous exercise. Goodbye aches and pains!
10. Release voltages: Recovery after a hike
Pampering your body is good, taking care of your mind is good too. You are not taught anything: the mind largely contributes to the achievement of sports performances.
So if you want to keep your spirits high from one session to the next, learn to relax after exercise. To help you recover psychologically, think about breathing deeply and don’t hesitate to practice relaxation exercises.
10. Optimal Recovery After a hike
With all these techniques, we could imagine a combination of all of these techniques for optimal recovery:
- During the hike: exercise drink with electrolytes and carbohydrates
- Immediately after the hike: stretching (5-10 min)
- At home: self- massages (10 min) + immersion in cold water (10 min)
- Then: Balanced meal incorrect quantity
- And finally: go to bed early for a restful sleep
Here are some tips to recover after a hike. I hope that you will use them to take more pleasure during consecutive hiking days or to suffer less after an intense effort.
These tips and advice are to be adapted to your own feelings and to the intensity of the effort provided. They will help to be fresher the next day, to avoid the pain caused by the hike and to get you back on track for the next.
And you, what are you currently doing to recover? Are you going to change anything as a result of this article? Tell me all about it in the comments.