6 Stretches Hikers Need to Do

by Carla Henderson

If you’re like us, “Take a hike!” isn’t an insult or jab — it’s a welcome suggestion. Hiking is one of the most powerful cardio activities for body and mind, not only building endurance and stamina, but also improving mental health. 

Although you might not be thinking about it while trekking up terrain and trails, you’re working six key muscles while hiking: Quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, calves, abs and your hip muscles. To avoid injury, it’s key to incorporate stretching before and after your time on the trail. 

Here are a few go-to stretches to stay limber as you hit the trails.

Pre-Hike

Dynamic stretches should be a component of your pre-hike warmup. These types of stretches are active and aim to move muscles through their entire range of motion. Think of it as lubricating your joints and muscles before heading out.

Knee To Wall Stretch

  • Keep heel on floor.
  • Push knee into wall.
  • Hold for 3 seconds and repeat 10 times on each leg.

Leg Swing

  • Hold onto something for balance.
  • With a straight leg, kick one leg into the air so you feel a slight stretch through the back of the leg.
  • Repeat 10-15 times.

Downward Dog Running

  • With your legs straight, bend down to the floor and place your hands there a little wider than shoulder width apart.
  • Your body should be in the shape of an upside-down V. 
  • Drop your feels as close to the floor as possible while keeping your legs straight. 
  • Bend your right knee and drop your left heel, then bend your left knee and drop your right heel. Repeat for 30 seconds. 

Post-Hike

Stretching after a hike is just as important as the movements you do beforehand. You might feel fine directly after a day of climbing and hiking, but in order to get back out there as soon as possible, you should perform some sort of cool down. 

Pretzel Stretch

  • Sit down and put both legs out in front of you. Hike one leg up and place it on the outside of your knee, flat on the ground. You should be in the shape of a four. 
  • With your back straight, twist slightly in the direction of the outside of your thigh. 
  • Wrap your arm around the knee that is hiked up and bring it close to your chest. 

Hip Flexor Stretch

  • Kneel on your right knee and move the left foot forward in front of you on the ground. 
  • Lean forward and push your hips against the ground. 
  • Hold for 30 seconds before repeating with the other leg. 

Back Extension

  • Lying on your stomach, rest on your forearms with your elbows at your side.
  • Push up on your elbows, keeping your neck straight.
  • Hold for 10 seconds, then move onto your hands and hold for 30 seconds.