Preparing for the Trail
Hiking is a fun physical activity that can be enjoyed at almost any age. Here in Montana, prime hiking season is just beginning. And with the rise of COVID-19, it is also a great way to get out of the house and still maintain social distance.
If you are new to hiking, start easy and gradually begin trying more difficult trails. There are many trails from which to choose. A little research beforehand can help you determine which would be best suited to your ability. Take into consideration distance, elevation, and technical difficulty of the trail.
Before your first hike, make sure you are physically ready. To prepare for this summer’s adventure, health and wellness professionals at The Summit suggests trying the following exercises which can be repeated at home.
Start by standing with feet together and your weight on your right leg. Step forward with your left foot, shifting your weight on to your front heel and keeping your back foot in place. Bend the front knee until the thigh is parallel to the floor and bend the back knee towards the floor, but not touching the ground. Both of your knee joints should be about 90 degrees, keep your core engaged and torso upright. The front knee is directly over the ankle and not in front of the toes. Drive through the heel of your lead foot and extend both knees to raise yourself back up. Step forward with your rear foot, repeating the lunge on the opposite leg.
Stand with your back against a wall with your feet shoulder width apart. Walk your feet out and lower your body until you have a 90 degree angle at your hip and the back of your knees. Hold this position for as long as you can. Gradually increase your time as you start to gain some endurance.
Bend first at the knees, then hip hinge. Lower your glutes into a squat position until your thighs are parallel with the ground. Keep your heels planted. With your core engaged, push up by driving through your legs and heels. As you arrive to standing, straighten the knees and engage your glutes.
A step-up is the movement of stepping up onto a box or platform.
Step-ups are simple movements that are very effective for strengthening the lower-body. If you are new to step-ups, try a 12- to 16-inch tall box, step or bench that is sturdy and stable. Your body is a recommended “weight” to start with until you gain flexibility and strength. Your focus for this exercise should be an emphasis on good form and technique during motion to avoid rolled ankles or injured knees. To increase difficulty, add a backpack with weight or hold a dumbbell in each hand.
Properly preparing for physical activity is key to preventing injury and improving well-being. For a full list of fitness classes that will help you get ready for the trail, check out The Summit at https://www.krh.org/summit/about-us/schedules.