I live in beautiful British Columbia and well we weren’t just given that name for no reason, it really is one of the most beautiful cities in the world (no I am not just saying that because I was born and raised here!) Along with all the beauty of this province comes an abundance of hiking trails and walking paths through trees, up mountains, around lakes much like many other cities in the world.
Over the summer and early fall is when the majority of people take time to take their fitness workouts in Surrey, Cloverdale, Langley, and other regions of BC and prefer outside of the gym by going for bike rides, roller blades, jogs, and hikes; however, doing all of these activities without a proper warm-up could result in injury and more post-workout soreness than if you were to perform a quick little warm-up. Don’t worry, I’m here to help!!
Before I get to the actual little warm-up routine I created for you, let me get to why it is important to warm-up in the first place. Well we all know the main reason to warm up before any exercise is to increase the temperature and blood flow in your muscles and joints to get your body ready for exercise; however, there are a few other reasons why warming up is important.
While sitting down and doing minimal movement the blood flow to your skeletal muscles is only about 15-20 percent; however, after approximately 10 minutes of exercise blood flow to skeletal muscles increases to approximately 70 percent! Along with this increase in blood flow to the muscles comes with an increase in muscle temperature and increase in oxygen available to working muscles resulting in increased performance. All of these factors help with fast muscle contraction and relaxation meaning the muscles will much more efficiently during exercise.
This does not mean that if you warm up before exercise you are guaranteed to not get hurt; however, performing a proper warm-up will help reduce the risk of injury. Muscle tears, tendon strains, ligament sprains, or pulled muscles are normally the most common injuries that could occur without a proper warm up exercises because as discussed above, muscle are not as warm and are not working as efficiently. When your muscles are working as efficiently as they should be and you start out on your hike really fast, this put’s an increase strain on muscle tendons and joint ligaments often resulting in injury. Or if muscles are still cold and you force them to contract very fast and produce a lot of power right out of the gate, they are not ready which could result in muscle tears or pulled muscles.
Ok, Now that you know why you should warm-up, let’s learn a quick little warm-up workout you can do before your next hike!
I will start by saying this, a warm-up should only have to take about 8-10 minutes, but will be well worth it in the end!
The goal of the warm-up is to avoid long slow static stretches (not moving) and try to choose speedy, but controlled movements that engage hiking muscles and dynamic stretches (with movement) that help loosen them up.
1. Forward Leg Swings: Stand alongside and put a hand on a wall, chair, or even tree and swing your outside leg forwards and backwards keeping your upper body straight and eyes straight ahead. Perform 15 swings per leg
2. Butt Kicks: You can perform this moving forward or run on the spot and make sure you start out slow and then slowly increase your speed. Try to perform 5 per leg at a slower pace and then 15 per leg a little bit faster. Try to stay on the balls of your feet while flexing your knees and kicking your heels to your bum.
3. High Knees: Just like exaggerated marching keep your body and legs in line. Take a big step forward and drive one of your knees up while going up on to your toe of the opposite food. Almost like a slow motion exaggerated run and make sure you get your arms involved just like while running. Perform for 15 per leg.
4. Squat to Hip Flexor: Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Lower your bum down into a squat, as if you are sitting back in a chair making sure your knees stay behind your toes. While in a squat position bring one leg back so you are in a lunge position. Keep your hips pushed forward so you feel stretch in the front of your hips and then return to standing position and repeat with the other leg for 10 reps per leg.