Also, did I mention what a great workout it is? Take your normal hiking trails, add snow and snowshoes, and you just amplified your intensity level. Phew! Now, all four of us live pretty active lifestyles, but boy did we all feel the 4 hour trek that we did! We all had our hip flexors and calves talking to us by the time we got back to our car and even the following day.
Now I have been really good about doing my morning stretches just about every day for just over a year now. My routine only takes me about 20 minutes to do, with a puppy climbing all over me to play and give me kisses. I know the great benefits to stretching and warming up your body, but we all fell prey to the weekend warrior mentality on Sunday. We did not properly stretch and warm up our muscles when we first got up to the mountain. I knew better, but got caught up in the excitement to start our hike over to the trailhead to start our snowshoeing adventure. As a result, we all felt our sore muscles more than we probably should have felt them.
Being a weekend warrior is not a bad thing. However, you need to properly take care of yourself before, during, and after your adventure. Trust me when I tell you that your body will thank you. Here are some tips that I have found to be helpful in making the most of your adventures and post adventure.
- Eat a nice hardy breakfast. Don’t skip out or eat something “light”. No yogurt and fruit or a piece of toast. Make sure you eat plenty of protein. I recommend eggs, bacon or sausage (or substitute a vegan/vegetarian protein option), potatoes or hash browns, and maybe another small side of carbs. (Fruit or vegetables are great to add too)!
- When you arrive at your destination, before you start, do some stretches. For hiking and snowshoeing, make sure you warm up your legs and hips. Do some deep lunges, calf raises, high knees, air squats, quad and hamstring stretches, and maybe even some jumping jacks. Prepping your muscles for the workout that you are about to embark on them is a very important, and often a skipped or forgotten element, that allows you to enjoying your experience with less pain.
- Bring and drink plenty of water. Your body will be working hard and sweating, so make sure you stay hydrated.
- Take a snack break. Find a nice place to stop and enjoy the scenery. Drink more water and eat a snack. Protein bars and nuts or trail mixes are great fuel for your body. You just burned a ton of calories, so you will need to refuel to keep your muscles going, and to stop your stomach from growling at you.
- Do not sit for any length of time. Keeping your body moving will help prevent your muscles from stiffening back up you take your break.
- Drink more water and eat another hardy meal with a protein focus. Again, your muscles will thank you for refueling them with water and protein.
- When you get home, do some stretches again and give your muscles a little self-massage. They most likely will have become stiff from sitting in the car on the drive back home.
- Take a nice hot shower, soak in a hot tub, or if you have a bath tub at home, I highly recommend pouring a few cups of Epsom Salt into a warm bath and soaking for about 15-20 minutes.
- If your muscles are already yelling at you, apply some Biofreeze, Tiger Balm, or the like, on the sore muscles after you have dried off and allowed your body to cool back down to room temperature.
- Rest and relax the remainder of the day or evening. Allow your body to recover!
With spring just around the corner, getting outside and being more active is sure to follow. I know that I am looking forward to hiking more trails and discovering more waterfalls this spring and summer. Don’t let the outside activities and adventures leave your body so sore that you can’t enjoy the weekend. Take the time to take care of your body and properly stretch, hydrate, and fuel your body before, during, and after your fun filled day! Remember, getting outside and exercising should be fun, not painful.