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A Colorado Summer wouldn’t be complete without plenty of hiking trips to the mountains

July 4, 2018

One of the best parts of living in the Centennial State is the availability of outdoor activities to keep you physically fit and connected with nature. Hiking is one of the most common activities that Coloradans engage in, which can be easily observed simply by going to a popular trailhead on the weekend. While hiking is a fantastic activity for staying physically fit, it’s important to be prepared prior to scaling your favorite peak. Here are some helpful tips and exercises to be aware of from your physical therapist in parker.

What to Pack

If you’re intending to go on a reasonably long hike, it’s important to pack all of the essential items that will help you stay safe and prevent your afternoon affair from going sour. Without question, perhaps the most important item to pack is water. Staying hydrated while on a hike is critical to your safety, as dehydration while in the wilderness can be an absolute emergency. It’s always good to err on the side of caution and to bring more water than you think you’ll need. Look into things such as easy-to-pack water bladders that can hold up to a gallon of h20.
Another important item to consider prior to venturing out into the wild is a variation in clothing. While it may appear to be a warm and sunny day out, it’s crucial to bring clothes for all types of weather events. Colorado weather can change dramatically in an instant, and being caught out on a trail without rain gear or proper layers can make your afternoon miserable. Look into clothing that is versatile and easy-to-pack while also providing you with the right amount of coverage.
The sun in Colorado can be intense and it’s important to bring plenty of sunscreen and a sunhat to avoid getting too much UV rays. It doesn’t take long to become sunburnt while on a trail, especially if it doesn’t have a lot of shade. Additionally, think of items that you’ll want to have with you on a long, scenic hike. This can include things such as an energy bar or other types of food to ensure you stave off the irritable feelings of hunger. You’ll also certainly want to bring sunglasses to shield your eyes from excessive exposure to the sun, as constantly squinting your eyes will definitely detract from your overall experience of the trail.

Exercises to Practice Prior to Hiking

The act of hiking can be much more strenuous and physically demanding than a person might expect, especially if you’re on a jaunt at higher elevations. You may think you’re perfectly limber and able to handle any kind of trail, but it’s always a good idea to prepare ahead of time with a number of helpful stretches to keep your body primed for the journey. Since you’ll likely have some gear on your back, it’s a good idea to be practice a variety of stretches that will reduce the likelihood that you will not be able to handle the hike.
Lunges are a great exercise to engage in as a way to keep your lower extremities in adequate shape and condition. Hiking requires a large amount of physical exertion from your legs, as you’ll often be traversing over large rocks and consistently climbing up various obstacles present in the environment. A lunge will require the same muscles you use while pulling yourself up an elevated terrain. Be sure to practice this exercise while alternating legs to ensure that both parts of your lower body are in shape.
Another great exercise to consider for hiking are leg squats. This activity will exert force on your quadriceps muscles, which are the strongest muscles in our legs. Having quads that are strong will be a major boost while on a hike, as they will assist us in going up as well as coming back down areas of high elevation gain. Squatting down as low as you can while making sure not to let your knees go past your toes will be a great way to prevent putting too much pressure on your knees.
While having lower body strength is absolutely essential to being able to traverse difficult terrain, it’s also important to remember that having core body strength is something you shouldn’t neglect. For this reason, consider doing exercises that will improve your abdominal muscles. Planking can be a simple, yet powerful activity to greatly improve your core strength and will greatly boost your hiking experience.
Beyond strength-training exercises, it’s also important to properly stretch prior to going on a long hike. Stretching your hamstring is important for preventing muscle strains. This can be accomplished by laying your leg on a bed or table, hinging forward toward the hip joint while keeping your knee straight. Stretching your calves to avoid excessive stress to your Achilles tendon and knees is also recommended prior to hiking. If you’ve been dealing with a serious injury, it’s also a great idea to consult with your local Parker physical therapist prior to engaging in a serious hike. Clearly, the last thing you want to occur is to re-injure yourself and preventing the possibility of enjoying the Colorado outdoors to the fullest.
If you looking to improve your physical health situation and are in need of physical therapy, or have questions about what physical therapy consists of, contact Peak Physical Therapy and Wellness today and we will be happy to assist you with your first steps towards recovery. We have an extensive team of qualified physical therapists and specialists who care deeply about their clients and go above and beyond the call of duty to provide the highest quality treatment in the industry. If you are looking for a therapist who will carefully assess your individual needs and formulate a treatment plan that is specifically tailored to your needs, Peak Physical Therapy and Wellness is your preferred choice for the physical recovery process.