Why You Should Warm Up Before Hiking

Hiking is a fun, safe outdoor activity that the entire family can do together. It’s low-impact and the risk of suffering any serious injury while hiking is – usually – minimal. But because hiking is so safe people often underestimate how physically demanding hiking can be. Hiking across rising and falling elevations of loose dirt, wobbly rocks, and uneven terrain requires sturdy legs, a strong core, and a healthy set of lungs. And adding a heavy backpack to the mix certainly ups the ante. That’s why it’s important – regardless of age, experience, or fitness level – to warm up before hiking.

Warm up to prevent injuries

Now, you probably won’t suffer a horrific injury just because you didn’t warm up properly. If you fall and break your leg or roll your ankle in a freak accident, stretching wasn’t going to help you.Warming up before hiking can help prevent minor injuries, however.

For example, back strain is a surprisingly common hiking injury. It’s easy to hurt your back by lifting a heavy pack. Doing a light warm up, and picking up your pack the correct way – dropping to one knee, hoisting the pack on that knee, and sliding into the straps – can help keep you from throwing out your back.

Doing a warm up before hiking can also ward off muscle cramps or muscle strains and reduce the effects of old knee or ankle injuries. Warm up to make your hike more enjoyableDoing some basic stretching to warm up before hiking can help loosen up your muscles and prevent stiffness from setting in. Stretching also increases general physical performance. This gets increasingly important as the number of days spent hiking increases. If you’re hiking several miles a day, several days in a row, your body is going to start feeling it. Stretches and warm ups can help your body handle the mileage.Warm up when it’s cold outside to increase your body temperature

Your body temperature increases the more you move around. It doesn’t take long before you start peeling layers while you’re on the trail. Those first 10-15 minutes on cold winter morning can be a little brutal, though. Move around a little bit to get the blood flowing and your temperature up. Do push-ups, jumping jacks, burpees, hop in place, or do whatever else you feel like doing to get your body temperature up.

No one is above warming up

It’s especially important to warm up if you live a sedentary lifestyle. Watching the TV on your sofa isn’t good training for hiking, and you can hurt yourself if you overdo it when your body isn’t used to being active. If you hike every weekend, you can probably knock out a 5-mile day hike on a moderate trail without needing to warm up. However, it’s good to get in the habit of warming up. Warming up isn’t a mark of someone who can’t hang on the trail. It’s the mark of someone who is sensible about physical activity. Some people may not need to warm up, but it’s never a bad idea to prime your body for physical activity.

What’s your favorite hiking warm up? Share in the comments below! For any hiking supplies or hiking equipment, stop by and see us in Fayetteville, Arkansas!

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