Health & Wellness

How to prepare yourself for summer hiking trips

As we have officially entered the summer season, outdoor recreation and activities are becoming a staple in our weekend schedules. With hiking being an activity that continues to grow in popularity, especially during this time of the year, it is important to know how to safely enjoy our adventures and how to help our friends and family stay safe as well.
When planning an outing preparation is key. With preparation there are a few factors to consider. The terrain and difficulty level of the hike will help you gauge the amount of energy that you will be expending, which influences the preparation process. With any physical exercise and exertion, self-awareness is a crucial skill to cultivate. Being self-aware allows for an honest assessment of our current fitness level and helps us to make a choice that challenges us towards our goals while lessening the chance of injury. Choosing a hike that is too challenging threatens injury and can jeopardize progress in pursuit of goals and overall wellness. After making your choice on where to hike it is important to make sure the gear you have is adequate and will help and not hurt you.
Having the right shoe or hiking boot is an integral part of any hiker’s gear list. In addition, having the correct socks for the occasion will protect your feet from blisters. The correct shoes could help lessen the chance of typical hiking injuries, which include joint injuries such as sprained knees and ankles. The nature of the terrain, ability to balance, and an unfortunate misstep can result in an injury, a nicely fitted shoe that is appropriate for the outing can aid in preventing these injuries.
Back pain is another ailment that hikers may face. Core strength and overall fitness helps lessen back pain, but it is also important to make sure your backpack is not contributing to the problem. Your pack should be the correct size and not over filled and too heavy. Make sure that the pack you have is the correct size. While packing, place the heavier items at the bottom of your pack to encourage better weight distribution. In your pack, you should include enough food and water to replenish your body throughout the day. The energy that you expend indicates the fuel to need to replace your body in the way of food and water. Proper hydration will help fend off a slew of physical ailments. With the increase in sweat experienced while hiking, your water consumption should surpass that of your water consumption on a normal day. The foods that you bring along should be high in proteins and carbohydrates to continue to fuel your body. The length and difficulty of the hike will help you to determine what and how much to pack.
Balance, core, and hip strength are great assets in the pursuit of a summer filled with hiking. Lunges, step-ups, and hip abduction exercises with slow and controlled movements are beneficial for strengthening and preparing for a weekend on the trails. In many cases, improving core strength through exercise and proper body mechanics can help reduce back pain during and after activities such as hiking.
Stretching is another factor to consider when preparing for and recovering from a hike. Stretching hips, quads, hamstrings, and calves are important in injury prevention before and after hiking. Drinking enough water is another way to take care of muscles during and after activity. It is always better to bring extra water than to not have enough!
In the pursuit of an adventure filled summer or planning a few outings on the trails, we need to make sure our bodies are up for the test. Preparing ourselves through stretching, preemptive exercise and strengthening, obtaining proper gear, and fueling our bodies for the challenge ahead will help us stay safe and enjoy the beautiful scenery we are surrounded by. Enjoy the sweet summer sun and treat yourself to a few gorgeous Oregon hikes this summer season.
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