So going for a hike might seem like an easy enough activity for any reasonably fit person to take part in because after all, it’s basically just walking in nature right? While that might be true in the Texas Panhandle, here in Colorado we know that hiking can be a demanding activity requiring physical fitness AND a knowledge of the outdoors. Even for accomplished athletes, a 6-mile hike going up and down steep trails can do a number on muscle groups that are typically not activated in a normal workout routine.
Some of the most common problem areas after a hike are the feet, neck, and shoulders. A hiker’s feet can obviously take a beating from long hours spent on a trail. The terrain is typically uneven and rocky so the soles of a hiker’s feet are constantly receiving impact in places they are not used to. During steep ascents and descents, they are also forced to point in extreme angles putting unusual pressure on both heals and toes. A hiker’s neck and shoulders are put under strain especially when a pack is used. There is the physical pressure of straps and weight that inevitably force you to contract your traps more than usual as well as straining of the neck muscles from overcompensating for pack weight. Even with the latest in backpack designs that help distribute weight across ones body, a few hours of scrambling over rocks with a pack can become burdensome.
Additionally, hikers are more prone to a number of joint and bone injuries that your average athlete does not have to contend with. Some trails, especially in Colorado, are a little treacherous and injuries like ankle and knee sprains from twisting on uneven surfaces and even broken bones and sprained wrists from trying to break ones fall are all possible. Add to that the acute pressure being put on calves and hamstrings and pulled muscles and cramping are commonplace.
To say the least, hiking is one activity that is going to make you sore, all over, for a while. A post hike massage is a great way to mitigate the long-term effects of muscle soreness and hiking related injuries. We recommend talking to a massage therapist about a deep tissue massage that focuses on those above-mentioned problem areas as well as any joint or muscle injuries. As always, communicate any discomfort or acute injuries so your massage therapist can tune their approach to your specific post-hike needs. A massage after getting off the trail is not just for healing though. It is a great and relaxing way to follow up what is usually a very fulfilling experience in nature, regardless of the hard work.