So you just finished hiking? You feel exhausted and sweaty. You are starving.
But you are curious of what is the best way to recover, so now what?
Should you lie down to give your body rest? Should you stretch? Or is it better to eat first?
In this post, I am going to show you the 6 most important steps to take after you have finished hiking.
Steps To Take After Hiking
Many hikers like you and me experience soreness and fatigue during our hikes. This is not necessarily from the hike itself, but from what is not done after the hike is finished.
1. Slow Down Before You Reach Camp, or The Parking Lot
As you are about to finish hiking, you should take some time to cool down.
Slow down your pace when you are 5 to 10 minutes away from camp or the parking lot.
Your body needs time to transition from an active state to a resting state. This will allow the heavily used parts of your body to receive better blood flow, which will replenish you.
2. Stretch Now! Or Suffer Tomorrow
Even just stretching for a few minutes can significantly reduce cramping, soreness and the longevity of your body. Make sure to stretch before you sit down, otherwise, your muscles will start to cramp.
When stretching, have some order in which you stretch. I recommend starting from the bottom and working your way up! This is to simply make sure you hit all areas of your body that need stretching.
So, start with your feet, then calves, quads, hamstrings, glutes, hips, back, neck, and finally your arms.
Now stretching your entire body is great, but focus most of your time on the parts of your body that were heavily used during the hike.
You can use a Lax ball to roll out your feet, and any other part of your body. A muscle roller is another great tool for stretching your calves, quads, hamstrings, glutes, and back.
If you really want a great stretch after a hike, then yoga is for you!
Now, you should have been drinking water the entire day!
But if you somehow forgot, or you just feel like you need some more, it is a crucial ingredient to a full recovery after your hike.
Water will allow your body to replenish its muscles with oxygen, boosts exercise performance, and many other things.
Water also helps you digest the food you are about to eat!
Depending on how long of a hike you just went for, you’re probably hungry.
And you're hungry for a good reason!
Now your body wants to consume its macronutrients within a 30-minute time frame of when you stop exercising.
So, as you are stretching or immediately after, eat some carbs while your body can still use them to the fullest potential.
So grab your favorite fruit, granola or bread and enjoy!
My personal favorite hiking snack is dried dates! They are loaded with natural carbs and sugar.
But next time you go out, bring more snacks with you so you can take breaks along the way and replenish your body to last longer!
5. Take Care of Your Gear
Now taking care of your body is more important and should be done first.
After you have stretched and consumed food, it is time to take care of your gear.
Set your boots up so they will dry out if they are wet. Any wet clothes will need to be dried as well.
I recommend organizing your backpack so next time you want to hit the trail, your backpack is ready to go!
6. Cleaning up
If you have access to a shower, bath or even just a river or lake to jump into, go ahead and jump in!
As shocking as jumping into a cold body of water is, it will help you recover.
A cold dip in any body of water will reduce soreness by expanding blood vessels to flush out waste products in the tissues.
The shock in temperature will make you more awake if you are starting to feel tired but want to do somethings with your friends at night.
All of us know that going hiking is very enjoyable and fulfilling. However, you probably won't be able to do it again tomorrow unless you take the time to recover.
This is why stretching and eating within 30 minutes of stopping is important.
Now, it is time for you to tell me something!
Which step are you going to try first?