We have all been there. It’s a beautiful day out, you decide you want to get outdoors, so what do you do? You go for a hike!

You have a wonderful time enjoying nature and getting some exercise, but, then you come home and wake up completely sore after that hike.

Oh no, how did this happen!? Well, there could be many reasons. In this article, we are going to give you all the best post-hike recovery tips to hopefully help you prevent this from happening next time.

BE PREPARED TO HELP WITH RECOVERY

First things first to help with that after hike recovery is to come prepared. Now, this is easier said than done I am sure. Let’s be real, does anyone actually like to take the time to prepare? It is much easier to just get out there and go for a hike; however, these tips below can really help you prevent that post-hike soreness and help you recover quickly.

WARM-UP AND COOL-DOWN

We have all heard it, but it is so true. Doing a proper warm-up and cool-down can really help prevent any injuries as well as help with that muscle tension and soreness that occurs while hiking.

For hiking specifically, you will want to focus on stretching out the hamstrings, quads, glutes, and hip flexors. This article lists out some great stretches specifically for hiking.

Photo: Predrag Vuckovic

Consider stretching on a daily basis as well to keep your body constantly prepared for a hike. Try starting out each morning with a simple 10- minute stretching routine to get your body just warmed up for the day.

Stretching after your hike is just as important as stretching before your hike. This is going to really help make that post-hike recovery process much quicker. Here are 10 great stretches (with pictures) to do post-hike.

WEAR THE PROPER GEAR

Wearing the proper gear during your hikes is equally important. Finding the right gear that fits your body appropriately can be difficult. Head to your local REI and they can help answer any questions you may have on size and fit. They also will size you correctly for backpacks if you ask!

Key things to help with that post-hike recovery process as far as gear goes are: wear gear that is appropriately fitted as well as broken in. It is never a good idea to go out on a long hike with a brand new pair of hiking shoes. Try wearing them around your house for a few days first!

Photo: Predrag Vuckovic

If you are looking for new hiking shoes then make sure to check out this great guide on finding the right hiking boots that would be perfect for you.

One piece of gear that can really help prevent any injuries as well as decrease that after hike recovery time is trekking poles.

Photo: Predrag Vuckovic

NOURISH YOUR BODY

It is best not to just “wing it” when it comes to preparing your body nutritionally for hiking. Some basic tips to help with recovery are to maintain a good ratio between all the macronutrients: carbs, fats, and proteins.

Prior to starting your hike, you will want to load up on some carbs. This will help fuel your muscles pre-hike.

Post-hike you are going to want to eat lots of protein to help with that muscle recovery.

During your hike, it is extremely important to remain hydrated. Symptoms of thirst and hunger is your body telling you it needs more. Water is extremely important for muscle repair and recovery.

Photo: Maria Wawrzyniak

Pro tip: Try adding some electrolytes to your water to help lessen the recovery time.

AFTER-HIKE RECOVERY MUSTS

Recovering is not just all about muscle recovery. You have to think about other parts of your body too. This could include things like preventing blisters, avoiding dry skin, and avoiding injuries.

Prevent blisters: After your hike take your shoes and socks off to airy dry your feet. Allow your shoes to also fully dry out before wearing them again. These two tips can help prevent blisters.

Photo: Predrag VUckovic

Dry skin: Hiking in the sun or snow all day makes you prone to sunburns and dry skin. Prior to your hike make sure to apply sunscreen. After your hike, apply lotion to your body. Doing both these things will help with the recovery process as well as prevent dehydration.

Avoid injuries: Along with all the tips above consider icing sore areas after your hike. Ice packs or even ice baths help decrease inflammation, which ultimately helps with that post-hike recovery process that needs to take place.

BEST WAY TO RECOVER FROM HIKING

One of the best ways to recover after a hike is by doing what is known as “active” recovery. So, what is active recovery?

Active recovery means doing a low-intensity workout the day after a hard activity like hiking. This will greatly decrease the recovery time your body will need.

Some samples of active recovery include:

  • Going for a light walk or jog in the neighborhood
  • Taking a Yoga class or doing some stretching and foam-rolling at home
  • Go for a swim
Photo: Dragan Stojkic

The main goal of this active recovery time is to get your heart rate to just above resting. That’s it! It is pretty simple, but also essential to the recovery process.

POST-HIKE RECOVERY ROUTINE YOU CAN FOLLOW

Below is a sample schedule you can follow to help with muscle recovery and soreness.

Night before hike

  • Load up on foods high in carbohydrates and protein like pasta. Try spaghetti for your dinner!
  • Get a good night’s rest

Day of hike

  • Start your morning with a high protein meal and some fat. Maybe some eggs and toast?
  • Begin your morning with a full glass of water
  • Make sure to stretch before your hike
  • Don’t forget to wear the proper gear-don’t forget those trekking poles
  • During the hike drink lots of water and high protein/high-fat snacks. Try some nuts like cashews
  • After the hike don’t forget to stretch again

When you get home from the hike

  • Potentially place an ice pack or take an ice bath
  • Do some foam rolling
  • Finish the night off with more water and a high protein meal
  • Get a good night’s sleep

Day after hike

  • Do some active recovery and continue to drink water throughout the day

To wrap things up post-hike recovery requires time and dedication. Make sure to always finish off your day with a good night's sleep. Blood flow is increased to your muscles during your sleep which will help them repair and get you ready for that next hike!

Author: Chelsey Evans

Chelsey Evans

Chelsey Evans is a travel outdoor enthusiast who loves to inspire others to get out in nature and explore more. She is the founder of the blog Chelsey Explores which focuses on fun outdoor adventures to do in San Diego and beyond; including things like hiking, camping, backpacking and more!