how to recover from a hike

How to Recover from a Hike

Going on a long hike is a great way to cut loose from all the drags of modern living. Removing yourself from the stress of work and the weight of digital technology, there’s just something about getting back to nature and spending time outside that helps charge the mental batteries. If you’re someone who enjoys a more strenuous or longer hike, you might find yourself a bit sore when it is all said and done. To help, you need to know how to recover from a hike. Here are a few tips and tricks to aid in your hiking recovery.

Some Best Tips and Tricks on How to Recover from a Hike

Pre-Hike Helps With Your Post-Hike Recovery

The same is true with just about everything in life, but the better you plan for something the better the potential results. This is true with hiking. While it is fun to have a spur of the moment hike, the more you put into getting ready the better you’ll be.

In terms of the recovery aspect you need to check your gear to make sure everything fits. This is especially true with your clothing, boots, and backpack.

If your boots don’t fit you will end up with blisters and large calluses. While the calluses you can deal with later it is the blisters that are the real problem. The fastest way to derail an outdoor hike is to have blisters on your toes and feet. So when picking out hiking boots make sure to not only try them on, but try them on with the kind of socks you normally wear.

Check with your clothing as well. Shorts that are too tight or too loose may result in chafing between your thighs, which is especially irritating. And a backpack that doesn’t fit will force you to hunch over and cause back pain. By taking the time to pick out properly fitting gear you’ll remove many of the issues you would deal with post-hike.

Sleep (and Sleep Some More)

Your body needs sleep to recover. You not only will burn through a good amount of caloric energy during your hike but you’ll also damage your muscles along the way. Similar to what happens when you lift weights, the muscle fibers will tear and need to be repaired. This happens when you sleep. So if you’re not sleeping enough your body will not be able to repair itself.

Of course, you’ll likely be exhausted after a long day of hiking, but don’t try to continually push yourself. Get a good night’s sleep. This will help reduce the recovery time following the hike.

Eat Well (And Drink Well)

During your hike you will want to eat foods high in protein and carbs. Carbs will give you energy to burn along the way and the protein will help your muscles recover. This is why you will find trail mixes that are packed with nuts and chocolate (like M&Ms). These are full of carbs, protein, and healthy fats for added calories.

At dinner, you will want to eat something that is heavier in protein for when you sleep. This will help your body recover. Then, in the morning, eat food that is higher in protein and carbs like eggs and pancakes (go easy on the sugary syrup though).

Also, make sure you stay hydrated. Keep plenty of water with you throughout the hike. If you ever feel thirsty, it means your body is already dehydrated. So drink plenty of water and avoid anything with sugar in it.

When hiking you might feel inclined to bring some alcoholic beverages. While having a beer or wine cooler in the woods can be relaxing, you don’t want to do this while hiking. Alcohol will dehydrate you faster than just about anything else you can do. It also fills your bloodstream, which prevents the nutrients and energy from reaching your body. So avoid drinking while hiking.

Slight Stretching

Stretching is good, but plenty of people actually end up doing more harm than good with their stretching. There are certain joints and ligaments, especially those in your ankle and knee, that should not be over stretched. In fact, overstretching these areas can actually increase your chance of injury.

Instead, you will want to use some stretching as a cool down. Stretch your hips out as this is the area that can lock up during a walk. You can do some minor calf stretches, but again don’t go crazy with this (a quick toe touch is enough).

Sleep On Your Back

There’s nothing like some quality sack time after a long hike to help you recover. However, you will want to sleep right in order to avoid aggravating muscles in your back. Ideally you will sleep on your back. This is the best posture for your spine. Sleeping on your side causes the spin to shift, which can lead you with a sore back and neck the next day.

If you simply can’t fall asleep on your back try to place something between your knees. Your knees together will compress your lower back and can cause some knee soreness. Placing a pillow or other soft object between your knees will separate the bones and help reduce this kind of problem.

Stay Dry

Nothing ruins your important night of rest like water getting into the tent. If you are unable to sleep you will struggle to hike the next day. Your muscles will not be recovered and you’ll have trouble concentrating. This not only reduces the distance you can make the next day but it opens you up to potentially dangerous situations (especially if you are hiking by tall ledges).

In order to avoid moisture getting into your tent (if you are camping) you will want to place your tent on higher ground (not at the bottom of a hill). You should also invest in a quality tarp, such as those at Tarpestry, that are durable, lightweight, and easy to pack in your backpack. After all, space is at a premium, so everything you pack needs to have a purpose.

Avoid Injury And Improve Your Hiking Potential

These are just a few tips, tricks, and suggestions designed to help with your hiking recovery. From preparing ahead and making sure everything fits (and works) to taking care of your body after the fact, by following these suggestions on how to recover from a hike, you’ll recover faster and be ready to go on your next hike sooner rather than later. And, of course, if you’re looking for the perfect multi-use tarp for your next outdoor activity and hiking trip, make sure to check out the latest stock and selection at Tarpestry.