How You Recover After A Hike

Posted by Carmel Turner on

5 Great Tips on How You Recover After a Hike.

How you recover after a hike depends on a number of things, the most important being, the preparation you do before your hike.  If you plan and exercise before your hike, the time spent nursing injuries after your hike will be less.  The other pre factor to take note of is your gear, most notably your shoes and socks.  As hikers your feet are arguably your two biggest assets, after your organs. That being said paying close attention to what goes on them makes a lot of sense. Blisters are the most reported problem most hikers complain about. So make sure your footwear fits well and is fit for the conditions of your intended hike.  Also carrying hiking poles is also a must. It takes 25% load off your knees and are especially useful on the down. Check out our blog post on how to prevent blisters and hiking poles.

How Preparation Helped A Beginner

Being prepared helped me recover well after an endurance event which consisted of hiking 55km in one day over 4 mountains, to raise money for Oxfam. I was 55 at the time and not that fit when I decided to undertake it.  I didn't want to make as ass of myself as I had raised money from workmates and clients so I was determined to do well. With this end in mind I consulted the organization’s website.  Here I found a 12-week training program that pretty much took me from a relatively sedentary lifestyle to hiking the 55km.  I followed the training plan pretty closely.  It consisted of a mixture of walking, trail hiking over various distances and terrains, gym work and stretching. 

During my training, if I had soreness in my knees or glutes, I consulted a Physiotherapist and took her advice on additional exercises.  This happened when I was having soreness in the left knee which turned out to be Iliotibial band syndrome.  The additional exercises involved bands and more strength work.  Nothing too taxing.  I also researched shoes and bought a pair of Keens hiking boots which turned out to be one of the best investments I have made in my hiking life.  I still have them 5 years on.

 How to recover after a long trek

After completing the hike, I had no blisters and was injury free.  The only thing I suffered from was tiredness and sore, tired legs, as it took 20 hours of continuous hiking to complete.  The latter occurred the day after the big day and lasted about 2-3 days.  This was the same after doing a 7 Day thru hike on the Overland Track in Tasmania.  There is no doubt that the preparation I had done for both longer hikes really helped me stay injury free and recover more quickly.  However, I did do five things after, and during both hikes that also helped me recover more quickly.

5 Steps to Help You Recover After A Hike

Firstly, straight after the hike, even though it was the middle of the night we spent 10 minutes doing some stretches before hopping into the car.  This involves what is known as, dynamic mobility drills.  Movements similar to Tai Chi is a good way to describe these stretches.  The trick is to avoid static stretching which can cause muscles to tear even more.  Even if you will be sleeping in a tent on the trail stretching at the end of the day’s hike is a good idea. You can also use a foam roller (or tennis ball on the trail) to release muscles and ease tension in your legs, shoulders and hips.

Check out the video below for some awesome movements and breathing techniques for recovery.  The power of correct breathing and the breath itself is often overlooked when speaking about recovering after a long hike.

Secondly on arriving home I ran a hot bath and added a handful of Epsom Salts to it.  I had read that this was good to help soothe aches and pains, so I gave it a shot.  It is also said to be good for toughening up the feet.  Not sure about the validity of either of those claims but I know the warm bath helped me relax and wind down.

Thirdly, and this was ongoing from the time I finished the hike until I hit the hay, I drank loads of water.  At least 1 Liter and a half.  When you hike even though you are taking on fluids as you go, the body tends to dehydrate.  Especially in colder conditions when you are less likely to keep taking on water.  You also urinate more which contributes to dehydration particularly if your fluid intake is inadequate.

Fourthly, take on some good nutritious food.  I always have a banana, orange or apple in the car for after we finish a hike and if we are doing a through hike, I always take a few too. We also pack home-made Scroggin or at the very least a store-bought protein or muesli bar.  Here is a recipe for some home-made scroggin.  Not much to it.  Just take a selection from below in the quantities you like and mix it all together in a zip lock bag.  Make about 500grams worth. As you can see we take it on our thru hikes as well.

Best Scroggin Recipe

  • silvered raw (or roasted) almonds
  • cashews
  • pecan
  • macadamias - halved
  • sunflower seeds
  • dried apricot sliced up thinly
  • desiccated coconut
  • dairy milk chocolate – cup up how you like

How you recover after a hike scroggin

After doing all of the above comes the fifth step on how you recover after a hike.  Get some good sleep. No brainer really.  For me this took no effort at all as I was knackered and I always feel more peaceful after being out in nature.  If, for whatever reason, you are struggling to get to sleep listen to a guided meditation.  This always sends me to dream land. No doubt about it.  Try for some cool meditations. They have a handy Youtube channel. No money changes hands for me recommending them.  I just love their work and it has helped me many times.

Final Word on How You Recover After a Hike

Recovery is very significant after strenuous activity. I know that neglecting this phase can make my condition worse. The purpose of recovery is to allow sore muscles to rest and repair from long treks.  Even though you have done a ton of exercise during the course of a hike it is still important to your overall recovery to do some lighter exercises for the next 3-5 days.  Swimming, taking a brisk walk or cycling are great forms of exercise to do to aid in your recovery.  Swimming is a particular favorite of mine in hotter weather. Remember how you recover after a hike is dependent on a few things.  The important thing to remember is to focus on the things you can control.  Prepare your body well and invest in good gear. 🥰 Happy Hiking.

how to recover after a long trekking expedition



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