man rests after hiking

RECOVER TODAY, HIKE TOMORROW: HIKING RECOVERY TIPS

When you cover some serious distance in a day, it can be difficult to get up and get motivated the following day. With these post hiking recovery techniques, you will be able to get back on trails day after day.

SLOW DOWN AS YOU REACH CAMP

Around 5-10 minutes before you finish your hiking for the day ease up on the pace. A lower intensity at the end of your walk allows your body to prepare to enter a resting state. Easing up will also remove any lactic acid built up from the exercise. It also lowers your body temperature and reduces the risk of severe cramp once you crash out at your campsite.

EAT AND DRINK IMMEDIATELY AFTER YOUR HIKE

After heavy exercise, your body is primed to absorb water, carbohydrates and protein. Try and eat within 45 minutes of finishing your hike to capitalise on this. High protein foods are great as a post-hike snack. Salami, nuts or a protein bar should jump-start the recovery process. For carbohydrates, an energy drink or a granola bar will replace energy levels. Wash it all down with around twenty ounces of water.

STRETCH

It is important to stretch for a few minutes to allow your muscles to return to their normal length. After a long hike your calves, quads and hamstrings will be tight and need stretching out. Holding the stretch for between20-30 seconds will significantly reduce soreness and you’ll feel much better the next day. You shouldn’t be bouncing in your stretch, just hold it once you feel the tension.

HAVE A SUBSTANTIAL MEAL WITHIN TWO HOURS

Prepare your evening meal for within two hours of finishing your hike. When you are out on the trails all day, your meals need to be substantial and include plenty of carbohydrates, proteins and fats. A good rule of thumb is around 1.5 grams of carbohydrate for each kilogram you weigh. So, if you have a body weight of 80kg, you need to be eating around 120g of carbohydrates with your evening meal (80×1.5=120). 15-20 grams of protein should be enough to refuel and give your muscles what they need to repair and recover. Be sure to check the packaging if you are eating freeze-dried camping meals. Often the serving suggestions are significantly less than what your body needs to recover. There is no shame in having two servings if you are walking the next day.

WATER

As I already mentioned, once you arrive in camp you need to rehydrate. Somewhere around the 20-ounce mark (600ml) should suffice. But you need to keep drinking throughout the evening aim for 20 ounces an hour for the first couple of hours and then start reducing your water intake before bed (you don’t want to be up and down in the night and destroy your night’s sleep.) Rehydrating properly will ensure you start the next day’s hike refreshed and aren’t still trying to replace water lost on the previous day’s hike when you start. Then get to bed early and do it all over again.

 


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Oli Ward
oli@dinga.com.au

Oli has camped and hiked his way around Australia and most of Europe. He also loves writing about his experiences and sharing his knowledge.