Hiking is an enjoyable outdoor activity that enables us to stay active and in shape throughout the summertime. Regardless of the level of intensity of the hike, we can sometimes feel a bit imbalanced and experience tension in different parts of our body, afterwards. Making a habit of doing pre and post workouts that equally stretch and strengthen all your muscles and joints is the most effective way to prepare for a long hike—ensuring we remain strong and mobile and safely able to continue to do our favorite activities as we age.

An imbalance in our muscles can be caused by almost any activity – from leisure sports to all kinds of repetitive movements in our daily lives (even walking!). The easiest way to visualize an imbalance in the muscular system is to separate the muscular system into two categories. Larger muscles, which sit closer to the surface (typically the focus of strengthening in most fitness programs) and smaller muscles, which sit closer to the center of the body and are responsible for stabilizing the joints.

As the larger muscles grow stronger through repetitive movements, they begin to dominate a movement – overwhelming the tiny inner muscles, which are not given a chance to work. Over time, these smaller muscles weaken and lose the ability to do their job of supporting and stabilizing the joints. The larger muscles now have to work twice as hard to do the movement and support the joint. But without those small stabilizing muscles, the larger muscles will begin to pull the bones out of alignment, leading to joint pain.

Essentrics helps identify such imbalances and focuses on reconnecting our bodies in a way which uses these smaller muscle groups. Good flexibility is imperative when it comes to hiking – depending on the location of the hike, you might encounter uneven terrain, unexpected lifts and drops… Dynamic stretching creates flexible joints, which in turn helps with injury prevention and improves our range of motion so that we can produce even more power and endurance while partaking in our favourite summer activities.

 

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