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The Complete Guide to Summer Hiking

Before we go to the mountain, let's talk about gear. Improper gear often causes aches and pains during and after a hike. When choosing the right Day Pack or Backpack, you want to consider how many days you’ll be on the move. The more days, the bigger the pack! A good rule of thumb is that 80% of the pack weight should be distributed on your hips with the remaining 20% on your shoulders.
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Let’s talk about the great outdoors during the summer months! Whether you’re a fitness enthusiast or just starting your journey into an active lifestyle, hiking is a great way to get moving. If you are already a hiker you know the thrill of lacing up your boots, feeling the sun on your skin and the wind in your hair as you explore the mountains. From easy to hard hikes to multi-day backpacking trips, there is a trail out there waiting for you. Let’s grab your pack, lace up your boots and get ready to hit the trails – the mountains are calling. 

Need to find hikes? The app All Trails is a great way to find hikes of all difficulties. You can search for trails near and far and it can help you navigate even when you are on the trail. It lists all kinds of hikes, including dog friendly and kid friendly hikes.

What Will You Need for the Hike?

Before we go to the mountain, let’s talk about gear. Improper gear often causes aches and pains during and after a hike. When choosing the right Day Pack or Backpack, you want to consider how many days you’ll be on the move. The more days, the bigger the pack! A good rule of thumb is that 80% of the pack weight should be distributed on your hips with the remaining 20% on your shoulders.

Also, don’t forget to pack water! Backpacks with water bladders are a great way to stay hydrated while evenly distributing the weight on your back. Also, Hydrating the day before will help you feel better on the hike. During the hike, remember to drink water about every 20 minutes to keep you hydrated – it is easy to get dehydrated when you are having too much fun on the trails! And for enhanced hydration, consider adding electrolyte packets to your water (I like LMNT and Nuun because they don’t have added sugar).

Before lacing up your boots, don’t forget to bring along some essential gear to keep you comfortable and safe. 

  • First aid kit: better to be prepared than not prepared! 
  • Headlamp: for those early morning or late evening hikes when natural light is scarce
  • Bear spray: a must-have for hikers venturing into bear country
  • Rain jacket: because the weather can switch at any moment
  • Lightweight blanket: just in case it gets chilly at the top of the mountain
  • Gloves: to keep your hands warm 
  • Beanie: just in case your head gets cold
  • Extra socks: in case they get wet!
  • White athletic tape and skin squares: for blisters 
  • Wet wipes and hand sanitizer: for keeping yourself clean on-the-go
  • Sweat-wicking small towel: for drying off after a brief time in a stream along the way or a sweaty face
  • Chapstick with SPF: for those sun-exposed lips
  • Sunscreen: keep your skin safe too!
  • Lots of snacks: hunger can strike at any moment!
  • If you wear contacts, bring extra: just in case some dirt gets in your eyes! 
  • Sunglasses: for those bright sunny days
  • Sunhat or ball cap: to shield your face and neck from the sun
  • Hiking Poles: for stability on uneven terrain and steep inclines
  • Satellite phone (if necessary): if you’re venturing into remote areas with no cell service

Footwear

Let’s talk about finding the perfect hiking shoes for your feet. Most people have wide feet and often experience pain from cramming their feet into narrow boots. Make sure to try them on in a store and walk around to ensure the sole fits your entire foot comfortably before you invest in a pair. It’s essential to get the right fit to avoid sore feet or extra discomfort on the trails.

Every foot is unique so one shoe might work for your friend but not for you. That is why it is important to try on several options before purchasing. Don’t rely on online reviews, go find an expert at any outdoor store. 

Once you’ve found your perfect match, break those shoes in before hitting the trails. Take them for a walk on a nearby trail and break them in so you are not in pain half way on your hike! This will make sure that your shoes are comfy and ready for the adventure that awaits. Happy feet and happy trails!

Exercises and Stretches

Let’s talk about exercises that’ll help you stay stable on those rocky and uneven trails. 

Balance Exercises

Balance exercises are key to prevent ankle injuries and can help prevent a sprained ankle on the trail.

  1. One exercise you can do is stand on one foot with your eyes open, and then close them for about 20 seconds without holding onto anything. You’ll want to find a corner of a wall or something sturdy to lean against just in case you lose your balance.
  2. Another variation of this exercise is to stand on a Bosu ball with one or both feet. This will make it even harder to balance, so be prepared! It’s a good idea to start with both feet on the ball and then gradually move to one foot as you build up your strength and confidence. Remember, closing your eyes can be really tough, so don’t be discouraged if you can’t do it at first. Just start with your eyes open and gradually work your way up.

These exercises will help your ankles get stronger and more stable, which will help you handle rugged terrain. 

Lower Extremities

Strong lower extremities are important too. Strong legs will help you handle mountainous terrain with less pain.

  1. Lunges: Lunges target all the leg muscles needed for hiking. Stand with your feet in a split stance, with one leg forward and one leg back. Make sure your front knee is in line with your ankle, and bend both legs. Voila! You’re working those quads, hamstrings, and glutes.
  2. Step downs and step ups: These exercises will help you master descending and ascending the steep parts of the trail. For step downs, stand on an elevated surface (like a chair or a stair) and take one leg down to the lower surface. Bend your front knee and keep your back leg straight. Repeat on the other side. Step ups are the opposite – face the elevated surface and put one leg up on it, keeping your back leg straight. Stand up and repeat on the other side. Make sure to keep your hips level – you can check your form by exercising in front of a mirror.

Stretches

Now, let’s talk about stretching! These are the stretches I recommend to my patients to prepare their body for a day hike or weekend of hiking: 

Glutes Stretch

During or after a long hike, the glutes can get tight. Try going into a figure four position on a rock or log, or even use a chair to stretch those glutes. You can also use a foam roller to loosen them up when you get home.

Lats

We also need to stretch our lats! For lats, lift your arm above your head and bend your elbow. Pull your elbow closer to your head to stretch those lat muscles – you may even feel your tricep stretch. After your hike, you can use a foam roller to help stretch the lats as well.

Calves

Don’t forget about the calves! They can get sore from all that hiking. Go into a lunge position and hold onto something sturdy. Bend your front knee and keep your back leg straight. To get a deeper calf stretch, bend the back leg while keeping your heel on the ground. You can also use a tennis ball to roll out the calf muscles when you get home.

Feet

Feet starting to bother you on the trail? Use a tennis ball! You can just put it under the ball of your foot and put your weight on it. You can also roll the ball up and down and side to side as well. 

Strengthening Exercises

Finally, let’s talk about using resistance bands to strengthen the glutes. Strong glutes reduce the work your other muscles have to do. I like to use a resistance band. Take the band and wrap it around the soles of your feet, then go into a hinge position with the knees slightly bent. Lift one leg a few inches and hold briefly, then switch sides – you’ll feel the burn.

With these exercises, you’ll be ready to tackle even the toughest trails with confidence!

Remember to listen to your body and take breaks when you need them – it’s all about building strength and endurance for the long haul. Happy adventuring! 

Chiropractic Care & Hiking

Hiking is tough – it puts your body to the test! It is not uncommon to feel stiff after a long day of adventuring.

That’s where chiropractic care comes in! Our team is here to help you feel your best on and off the trails. Whether you’re feeling sore after a hike or want to prevent injuries, we are here to help you.

Come on in and get evaluated before or after your hike. We will help loosen up those tight muscles and get your spine moving freely. And, we don’t just stop at the spine! We can also adjust your feet, which can get sore and stiff from walking many miles on uneven surfaces. Let us help you get back on the trails without pain and discomfort.

Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or just starting out, we’re here to help you feel your best. We can’t wait to help you conquer the mountains with ease!

Want to schedule and appointment but unsure about your coverage? Easily find out by using our contact us form. We will check your coverage and send you the results!

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