I can feel your after hike pain. To tell you the truth though, that agony you are having right now is entirely reasonable to me. Every time I go for a backpacking trip, the hiking is what drains me the most. Also check our post for muscle recovery while in trail and pre-hiking.
It is summer… Make sure you check this post for summer hiking advices. It is really crucial.
I am not saying that hiking is not worth it. It does not only makes the body fit, bond with my family, friends but also gives me time to camp with my naughty dog. And of course, it is an opportunity to appreciate what nature offers.
Hey, if given a chance to hit the same trails again, I won’t give a second thought to it. Just reminiscing about the view, sounds and the company, eases my body pains. That’s why it does not matter; I will go hiking again!
But do you know that there are ways to a quick after hike recovery? These ten tips on how to ease the agony covers techniques that certainly will keep your interest.
Come on, let’s try it!
Need an additional tip on hiking: Click to find out how to avoid getting tired during a hike.
10 Tips for Pain Remedies
Why do our muscles ache after hiking? Why do our legs feel like jelly, knees are throbbing and calves scorching? Is it like torture isn’t it?
Hikers, backpackers these pains are for real. Probably it is caused by delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Usually, it starts a day after the big day.
It was a natural body reaction when we went beyond the usual limit we exerted and the build-up of lactic acid in our bloodstream. Commonly, it lasts for 2-3 days.
Recovery is very significant after strenuous activity. I know that neglecting this phase can make my condition worse. The purpose of recovery is to allow sore muscles to repair and to engage from previous hiking.
Massage is a favorite pamper time for me. It is soothing, calming and therapeutic. It improves blood circulation and at the same time relaxes my tired muscles.
I do massage the tender parts of my legs and feet after hiking, but I would be so happy to let somebody else do it for me. A massage therapist is a perfect choice if you’ve got the budget.
These professionals know how to ease body soreness by giving deep tissues massage.
Hiking is tough especially when trails lead to mountains. I don’t mind much the climbing part. What bothers me most is the downhill trail. I tumble, slipped once or twice, and it takes a toll out of my joints and muscles.
So after the long hike, I do some mild stretching just to give my muscles time to recover and refuel. It also brings back my muscles’ standard lengths encouraging a faster recovery. Doing so is just like adopting active recovery.
Active recovery is a simple exercise that is effective enough to get my blood circulating. It also lessens remaining exhaustion in the muscle. I do this all the time trying to focus on those that I have used much.
Some recovery activity are swimming, biking, and aerobics. I do the swimming most of the time, just because aside from the exercise, it freshens me up.
Have a complete rest, sleep or relaxation.
Well, I do rest as soon as I’m home. My feet deserve a nice break. My routine is to sit first then elevate my leg just slightly above my heart. Then it would feel like heaven to lie on my back and fall asleep.
Naturally, sleep comes after exhaustion. It is one of the best remedies to heal the body from a vigorous hike. My family knows not to disturb me when sleeping after some backpacking trips. I usually doze off like a baby.
Sleeping is the body’s most natural way to take care of the recovery and provides time for the muscles to grow and repair. And yeah, I don’t get to do anything at all. Just rest and relax!
Muscle Roller Stick
I do have this roller at home. It helps ease my muscle pains not just from hiking but from any persistent activity I had. It’s a therapeutic roller to apply pressure on my aching muscles similar to rolling pins used during baking but just a little bit thinner.
Alright, here’s a video to give you an idea.
Rehydrate and replace fluids
With all the sweating and the heat of the sun, I usually end up feeling like dried fruit. All those bottles of water I drunk while hiking never did replace all the fluid I’ve lost. So what I do now is to drink 2 cups of water in between my exercises.
Water helps as a metabolic purpose and transporting of nutrient in our body. Therefore, it improves muscle recovery.
Food for Fast Recovery
It’s a feast for me after some hiking. It’s just like a feeling of being deprived of my favorite foods. To supercharge, I make it a point that I have some diet that is rich in carbohydrates, protein, and fat.
I travel light so I store energy bars and some ready to eat stuff to save time. But sometimes, I got so hungry I can eat a cow alive! Got no choice but to bring this handy stove for a hot chocolate and a freshly cooked one-pot meal at night.
It’s a must to refuel to replace lost energy. But I eat this full meal after resting for an hour. A hint of the best food for after hike recovery:
- Hot chocolate
- Chicken w/ spicy chili
- Fried Rice
Take a bath/shower
It depends on the weather. I hiked once during summer when the heat of the sun was scorching. When I got home, I wished for an ice bath. After a long rest, I rewarded myself a cold dip in the tub. It was great for reducing soreness that I felt everywhere.
Have you heard about contrast therapy? This method is taking a shower while alternating both warm and cold water. The purpose of the process is to expand the blood vessels to flush out waste products in the tissues. I am planning to try it next time.
How do these socks help? Well, compression socks are made to aid blood circulation which highly supports muscle recovery. I wear them before I go to sleep after a long day of hiking. It helps steady your legs. I got mine as a birthday gift from a friend.
Pain relievers/Muscle recovery gel or ointment
Medication is an option that you may take when you want an instant recovery. However, I have not used any of these before. I try my best to be back in shape as naturally as possible.
But if you prefer, you can ask professionals for the right pain medication for you. Muscle recovery gel or ointments are available too for extra relief.
It is essential to cool down after every hike. It means that I have to take it slow in moving around and not to stop the motion abruptly. Continuing to be active eliminates lactic acid from the muscles and lessens muscle stiffness.
If the weather is cold, it is ideal to warm a bit first before cooling down.
How to Prevent Severe Soreness
Wear the Right Gear
I tell you, investing for the right gear to wear for hiking is all worth it. It is vital to wear the proper pants, jackets, and boots for a stress-free adventure. I make sure that my clothes fit me comfortably. Otherwise, if it isn’t, I won’t be able to enjoy the walk at all.
The hiking shoes or boots are of the essence too. I wouldn’t like to go home with blisters on my feet. Oh no! Anyways, I have crampons to help me out during the hike, they are of significant help on times when I need a steady grip on rocky terrains.
Don’t forget about the backpack. I can’t bring around big heavy ones. It will kill my back before I reach camp. I make sure to bring one that fits good and light enough not to drag me down.
Warm up before hitting the trails
Stretching! I believe that in doing so, it prepares my muscles for the work it has to do later on. It’s like telling my muscles to get ready; then it loosens a bit. For sure, I won’t be walking out so stiff!
So when you just had an overnight camp, go ahead pack up and store those sleeping bags, and do some warm up before getting on the go again!
Here is a warm-up exercise to give you an idea.
Proper Hiking Techniques
- Rhythm- Find your own suitable pace between your breathing and strides.
- Take a break- gives time for us to rest and saves energy.
- Think positive- mental conditioning motivates us to keep going.
- Zigzagging- a trick to beat the steep climb.
- Center of gravity- for downhill trails, never lean forward.
- Don’t rush- focus, pay attention to your steps.
After hike recovery wouldn’t be hard if these prevention guides are applied. On top of that, the tips that I have just shared with you will take care of the rest. Muscle pains are what they call “the pains of success.”
Choose whatever applies to you among the tips. However, undertaking all of them will make a recovery quick. It would take 3-4 days maximum to heal completely. In which afterward, you’re ready to hit the trail again!
Don’t get too relax and not consider going to the doctor if the pain becomes severe. Sometimes, hiking can cause strains or joint problems. It is best to seek advice from experts to be safe.
So, how’s that for a fast recovery? Remember not to proceed hiking when you are not physically fit. And if ever you’re hitting the trails, always go by your limits. What is important is to enjoy the hike and bond with friends!
Laura is the founder of CleverAdventurer, where she shares her knowledge, tips about hiking, camping, backpacking in the wild. She is a young blogger who is very passionate about outdoor activities. She wishes to share her experience during the adventure with people who have the same passion.
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