Preparing Your Body for Hiking

Exercises and Stretches for Hiking

The major muscle groups involved in hiking are your quadriceps and glutes, which work together with other smaller muscles that stabilize your hip, knee, and ankle joints. Before getting out on the trail, it is important to make sure these muscles are conditioned for the kind of activity you will be putting them through. Below are a few stretches and exercises to get you ready for the trail. But before you do your exercises, make sure your body is warmed up by just walking around for a few minutes.

man doing warm-up

Single Leg Balancing

Hiking trails usually have uneven and sometimes unpredictable walking surfaces, so ankle stability is key to making sure you don’t roll or sprain your ankle. This exercise will strengthen the muscles in your lower leg that that hold your ankle joint in place. Start by simply standing on one leg without holding on to anything for balance. If this is too easy, you can place a pillow on the floor to make balancing more difficult.

man standing on one leg

Bridging and Side Raises

When hiking uphill, your glutes do most of the work required. These exercises focus on the glutes, but will also help to strengthen your abdominal muscles and other muscles around the hip.

To perform the bridging exercise, lie on the floor and slide your feet towards you until your knees are at about a 90 degree angle. Then, lift your hips up until your torso, hips, and knees are in a straight line. Slowly lower your hips to the ground and repeat. If the two-legged exercise feels too easy, do the exercise as shown in the second picture with one leg.

man performing bridging exerciseman performing one-legged bridge exercise

For the side raises, lie on your side and keep your legs straight. Then raise your top leg up until your raised foot is about 12 inches above the foot on the ground. Slowly lower your leg back down and repeat with both legs.

man doing side leg raise exercise

Stretches before you begin

Quad stretch

Standing upright, raise your foot up behind you to a point where you can grab it with the hand on the same side of your body (left leg with left hand; right leg with right hand). Stabilize yourself against a wall or countertop if needed, then hold your leg in a flexed position for 30-45 seconds and repeat for the opposite leg.

man stretching quad

Hip side stretch

Standing upright, place one hand on your hip and bend sideways at the waist while keeping your chest facing forward. While bending, reach over the top of your head with your free hand. You should feel a stretch in the area between the top of your hip and your bottom rib. Hold this position for 30-45 seconds and switch sides.

man stretching hip

And with that, you are ready to hit the trails!

man giving high five

 

Olaf and Antoinette staying active on their recent ski trip! How do you stay active? If injury currently limits your activities, come in and we can help you get your active life back!

staying active on a ski trip

Tips to Prevent Skiing-Related Knee Injuries

The most common injuries in skiing happen to the lower limb, most commonly the knee. The introduction of releasable bindings has decreased the rate of leg fractures by 90% in the past 30 years, but knee sprains (including ACL and/or MCL tears) are on the rise accounting for about 30% of all skiing injuries.

The most common injury is the medial collateral ligament (MCL) tear, which is typically treated without surgery.  In skiing, the MCL is often torn when the ski tips are pointed toward one another in a snowplow position (the common slow or stop position) and the skier falls down the hill. MCL tears are more common among beginning and intermediate skiers than advanced and elite skiers.  When skiing you may prevent an MCL tear by:

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Family Tips For an Active Lifestyle

Making a commitment to be physically active is one of the best ways your family can prevent or combat obesity and its consequences. Physical therapists support the Department of Health and Human Services’ Physical Activity Guidelines, which states:

  • Children should get 1 hour or more of physical activity a day.
  • Adults should do either:
    • 2 hours and 30 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity
    • 1 hour and 15 minutes a week of high-intensity aerobic physical activity.

These tips were designed by physical therapists to help families stay active and incorporate physical activities into their daily lives:

“Smart Moves” for Your Family

  • Plan active weekend family activities such as hiking, swimming, bicycling, mini-golf, tennis, or bowling.
  • Help your child plan physical activities with friends and neighbors, such as skating or softball.
  • Have a “rainy day” game plan of indoor activities involving fitness games such as Wii Fit or Dance Dance Revolution.
  • Remember that your family does not need to join a health club or buy fancy equipment to be active. Walking isn’t costly and it’s easy. So is designing a backyard obstacle course. Weights can be made from soda or detergent bottles filled with sand or water!
  • Provide positive rewards for your child when he or she engages in physical activities, such as workout clothes, a new basketball, or an evening of roller-skating.
  • Provide positive feedback about your child’s lifestyle changes. Remember not to focus on the scale (for you or your child).
  • Be your child’s “exercise buddy”. Plan daily walks or bike rides and set goals together for increasing physical activity rather than for losing weight. It’s also great bonding time!
  • As you schedule your child’s extracurricular activities, remember to plan time for exercise and activity as a priority for the entire family. Don’t just “squeeze it in.”
  • Encourage children to try individualized sports such as tennis and swimming. Studies show such activities are the basis of lifelong fitness habits.
  • Parents and children can do exercises while watching television (or at least during commercials), such as sit-ups, push-ups, or running in place. Discourage snacking or eating meals while watching.

Compliments of Move Forward PT: Physical Therapy Brings Motion to Life

Physical Therapists’ extensive knowledge of pre-existing conditions (such as type 2 diabetes and obesity) allows them to help people of all ages and abilities establish life-long patterns of physical activity. For those who already are obese, physical therapists can design safe exercise programs that reduce pain, restore flexibility, as well as increasing strength and cardiovascular endurance. For people with type 2 diabetes, they can design and supervise exercise programs that reduce the need for medications, lower the risk of heart disease and stroke, and help manage blood sugar levels, among other benefits.