Post hike stretches

13 Best Post Hike Stretches That Really Work!

Have you ever done post hike stretches? If you haven’t then you are painfully missing out. See what I did there? 🙂

Puns aside, most of us forget to cool down and do some post hike stretches. Maybe the hike wasn’t so long or challenging or maybe you don’t know what stretches to do.

The next day, your whole body is sore and you struggle to move even a muscle. Ouch! 

Don’t worry, I’ve been there! Post hike stretches only take a few minutes and you’ll be relaxing in no time! Here are 13 of the best post hike stretches for you to choose from. 

13 Best Post Hike Stretches

1. Wrist stretch

2. Shoulder Stretch

3. Ankle Stretches

4. Plantar Stretch

5. Hamstring Stretch

6. Calf Stretch leg

7. Runner’s lunge

8. Glute Stretch

9. Forward Fold 

10. Rag doll Stretch

11. Couch Stretch hip

12. The 90/90 Stretch

13. Butterfly Stretch

Affiliate Link Disclosure

Some of the links here are affiliate links, and I may earn if you click on them, AT NO EXTRA cost to you. I hope you find the information here useful! Thanks!

Related Posts

13 Best Post Hike Stretches

1. Wrist Stretch

Hiking works up the wrist more than you may realize. 

If you are not holding your hiking pole, you would be grabbing rocks or holding onto trees or ropes.

Therefore, stretching your wrists is important to help prevent tightness or more serious problems such as carpal tunnel syndrome. 

This stretch will target the muscles surrounding your wrist to allow for flexibility and mobility. 

Step 1: Put your palms together in an upward clapping or praying position with your elbows pointed to the ground. 

Step 2: Gently push against one palm with the other hand until you feel a moderate stretch in your forearm. 

Step 3: Hold this position for at least 30 seconds. 

Step 4: Repeat in the opposite direction.

2. Shoulder Stretch

Stretching our arms and shoulders is important after a hike. Our upper body does more work than most think, so it is important to not leave this one out.

The Overhead Shoulder stretch is a great post-hiking stretch for your whole upper body. 

Step 1: Start in a standing position with your feet hip-width apart, back straight, and shoulders back

Step 2: Raise one arm overhead and drop your forearm down your back. 

Step 3: Using your opposite hand, grab your elbow and gently pull it behind your head until you comfortably feel the stretch

Step 4: Hold this stretch for at least 30 seconds. 

Step 5: Repeat on the opposite side

3. Ankle Stretches

Your feet and ankles require extra care during a hike. It is important to loosen up the muscles around the foot and ankle to prevent injuries and tightness. 

This stretch targets the ankles as well as the whole leg and hips. 

Step 1: Lie on your back with your legs up and your knees bent at a 90-degree angle. 

Step 2: Cross your left ankle over your right knee.

Step 3: Grab your right leg (either over or behind your knee) and pull it towards your face until you feel a stretch in your opposite hip. 

Step 4: Hold for 30 seconds. 

Step 5: Repeat on the other side. 

4. Plantar Stretch

What is a Plantar? Why would you stretch it? Plantar Fascia is a thick band of tissue connecting the heel to the toes.

Overuse and straining can cause inflammation and tightness in this tissue. Stretching the Plantar can help you reduce tension in the foot and calf. 

Step 1: Sit on a chair and cross your heel over the opposite leg.

Step 2: Pull the toes forward the shin to create tension in the arch of the foot. 

Step 3: Place one hand on the bottom of the foot to feel for tension in the plantar fascia. 

Step 4: Hold for 10 seconds. 

Step 5: Repeat 2 to 3 times. 

Step 6: Repeat on the opposite leg. 

5. Hamstring Stretch

Hiking puts a strain on the hamstring muscles. When moving at an incline for a prolonged period, the hamstring can cramp up and tear. Therefore you have to make sure you stretch those muscles before and after your hike.

It is particularly important to stretch your hamstrings after a hike to loosen the muscles and avoid tightness the next day.  

Step 1: Sit on the ground and extend one leg in front of you while bending the other leg at the knee and place the sole against your extended leg’s inner thigh. 

Step 2: Bend your hips and extend your body forward over your extended leg.

Step 3: Make sure you keep your back as straight as possible and keep your neck and shoulders relaxed. 

Step 4: Reach your arm toward your leg, foot, or ground near your foot (as far as you can manage). 

Step 5: Hold this position for at least 30 seconds. 

Step 6: Repeat on the other side. 

6. Calf Stretch 

Similar to the hamstring muscles, the calf muscles are in continuous use. This is a very important stretch to incorporate into your set. Your calves are working overtime, especially during a hike. This stretch will help reduce sore calves after hiking!

Step 1: Find a tree or support object nearby.

Step 2: Stand about two feet away from the tree. 

Step 3: Place the ball of your foot onto the tree and your heel on the ground. 

Step 4: Keep your legs and back straight

Step 5: Slowly lean into the tree deepening the stretch in your calf 

Step 6: Hold this position

Step 7: Repeat on the opposite side

7. Runner’s Lunge

The runner’s lunge is a stretch that targets the hip flexors. It helps open up and loosen the hips muscles, hamstrings, inner thighs, and quadriceps. 

Step 1: Start in a planking position, making sure your hands below you are in line with your shoulders. 

Step 2: Place your right foot forward, and position it next to your pinky finger. 

Step 3: Let your back and hips relax by letting them sink towards the ground.

Step 4: Breathe and hold for 30 seconds. 

Step 5: Repeat on the opposite leg. 

8. Glute Stretch

Stretching your glutes can help loosen the glute muscle, hip rotators, and the lower back.  Why are glutes important?

The glute stretch deeply stretches your hips and glutes without putting pressure on your back. This stretch is a great one for someone who is feeling tighter and less flexible! It will feel especially good as a post-hike recovery stretch. 

Step 1: Lie on your back with your knees bent and the soles of your feet on the floor. 

Step 2: Keep your head, shoulders, and back flat against the ground. 

Step 3: Cross one ankle above the opposite leg’s knee, like a figure 4!

Step 4: Lift your foot off of the ground keeping the knee bent until your shin is parallel to the floor.

Step 5: Extend your arms forward and lace your fingers behind the bent leg’s thigh. 

Step 6: Hold this position for at least 30 seconds.

Step 7: Repeat on the other leg. 

Step 8: If you need a little more tension, extend your leg that is parallel to the floor, so your foot is pointed to the sky. 

9. Forward Fold 

The Forward Fold Stretch is one of the most effective stretches. It is also simple and versatile and focuses on your lower body and back. This stretch will help increase your flexibility and mobility.  

Step 1: Start in a standing position with your feet hip-width apart

Step 2: Bend your knees slightly and slowly bend forward from your hips to reach your hands towards your toes. 

Step 3: Straighten your legs and either keep your hands suspended reaching towards your feet or place your hands on your shin or toes, depending on your flexibility

Step 4: Hold this position 

10. Ragdoll Stretch

The Rag Doll stretch further stretches the lower back and hips. It is very simple to do if you are already comfortable with the Forward Fold. Here’s how:- 

Step 1: In the same Forward Fold position, bend down while keeping your fingers intertwined.

Step 2: Swing your arms from left to right while keeping your fingers intertwined. 

Step 3: Repeat for at least 30 seconds. 

11. Couch Stretch 

The couch stretch targets the hip flexors, which are the muscle in front of your hip. You use these muscles when you lift your thigh towards your chest or bend down into a squat.

Ensuring proper mobility in your hips is essential when hiking as it helps you move freely and comfortably. 

Step 1: Place a mat or a cushion or anything soft you have on hand under your knees if you are placing it on a hard surface. 

Step 2: Bend your knee and place your shin along the back of a couch (or a chair) with your toes pointed upwards. 

Step 3: Place your left thigh in line with your body. 

Step 4: Elongate your spine and engage your core and glutes. 

Step 5: Keep your hips square. 

Step 6: Hold for at least 45 seconds. 

Step 7: Do the opposite side. 

12. The 90/90 Stretch

If you often suffer from hip pain after hiking, you should try this 90/90 stretch. It is one of the most effective ways to increase mobility in the hips as well as reduce hip-related pain. 

Hip mobility includes being able to rotate your hips easily. This is important not only during hiking but also during everyday activities. We rotate our hips when we are walking, bending over as well as when we are doing sports activities. 

This is how you can effectively stretch your hips using the 90/90 stretch. 

Step 1: Sit on the ground and bend one leg in front of your body with your hips rotated out.

Step 2: Make sure your lower leg and knees are resting on the ground. Your leg should form a 90-degree angle while your foot pointed straight. 

Step 3: Make sure the back of your knee lines up with your hip, while the ankle is in resting position. 

Step 4: Keep your back as straight as you can.

Step 5: Hold this position for 30 seconds. 

Step 6: Repeat on the other leg with your hip rotated inward and your shin and ankle on the ground. 

13. Butterfly Stretch

This stretch focuses on stretching your hips, inner thighs, groin, and lower back making it an all-around great hiking stretch! This is one of the best stretches for any and every physical activity. So here is how you do it. 

Step 1: Sit on the floor with your legs extended in front of you. 

Step 2: One leg at a time, bend your legs at the knee, and gently pull the foot inwards to your groin until you it is in a comfortable spot or as far as you can go with your both feet touching. 

Step 3: Hold on to your feet or ankles (whichever is comfortable) with both hands and bring your elbows towards your knees as far as they can comfortably go.

Step 4: Keep your back as straight as possible and your neck and shoulders relaxed.

Step 5: Next, extend your body over your feet by bending your hips forward. Gently add pressure from your elbows on your knees and push them in a downward direction. 

Step 6: Take deep breaths and hold this position for at least 30 seconds.

Why Is It Important To Do Post Hike Stretches?

Pre-hiking stretches essentially prepare your body for the exercise you are about to do. 

Stretching after hiking on the other hand helps your body cool down properly and reduces tissue tightness that causes those pesky sore muscles in the coming days

I understand why most people think that stretching is the least ‘exciting’ part of any physical activity. Once you are at the start of the trail, you get excited to just start your journey! 

That’s why most people tend to forget and not prioritize it. 

However, performing hiking stretches prior to and post hiking has proven to have a lot of health benefits and can improve your overall hiking experience! 

While pre-hiking stretches help increase your body temperature, mobility and flexibility, it also stimulates blood flow throughout the body so your tissues will have adequate amounts of oxygen.

In general, stretching regularly will improve your heart rate, blood pressure and your overall mobility which is especially important as you age. Ehem Ehem. 

Most importantly, performing stretches will help you decrease the risk of sustaining a serious injury. 

That’s right! It reduces the risk of muscle strains, ligament strains, cramping, and other painful injuries common with hiking. 

When To Start Stretching?

So when exactly do you start your stretches for hiking? The answer is before you start your hike and after you finish your hike. 

Before you start stretching, it is also very important for you to warm up your body first. 

You do not want to stretch on “cold” muscles. This could very well cause more injuries and tissue damage. And we don’t want that! 

You can start with a simple warm-up such as a light jog, arm circles, leg swings or even brisk walking. These warm-ups will help prepare your joints and tissues for mobility stretches. 

Once you’re done with your hike, you have to stretch immediately. This is especially important to do while your muscles are still warm and before they begin to tighten up.

It is equally important to start stretching after your hike to cool down and reduce muscle tightness. 

I have compiled a few simple stretches for after hiking that you can easily perform after that amazing hike you just finished! No, you don’t have to do all of them, (although you can if you want to) just picking 4 or 5 different stretches is good enough. 

Best Tools For Post Hike Stretches

There are many tools out there you can purchase to help you stretch better, but in my opinion, the essentials are only variations of these tools below. 

1. Foam Roller 

A foam roller is a great tool to massage your muscles and release the tensions you may feel. It can be used on most parts of the body with ease and is a good tool to use in your warm-up and cool-down routine. 

There are two types of foam rollers. The textured and smooth-surfaced foam roller. 

Typically I would recommend the smooth foam roller if you are just getting into rolling because the pressure is less intense and typically less expensive compared to the textured kind. 

Some of the best foam rollers are:

I am a fan of foam rollers and my favorite is the RumbleRoller for the overall quality of massage and targeting knots.

This could be a little bit intense if you are just starting out, as it is quite firm and bumpy. It is available in a few different sizes and density levels according to your preference. 

The best overall foam roller that is medium in intensity and only slightly bumpy is the TriggerPoint Grid

This foam roller is soft enough for a beginner and provides a good quality message. 

LuxFit Speckled foam rollers are also great if you are just starting out with rolling. 

The smooth texture and soft surface make it an enjoyable but not too intense massage experience. It is also an affordable option if you are on a tight budget. 

2. Stretch Rope

A stretch rope is essentially just a rope with loops. You can get a deeper stretch and tension release by using this simple tool. The loops make it easier to hold on to without getting rope burns.  

Some of the best foam rollers are:

The original stretch rope has had raving reviews and is often recommended by physical therapists and trainers.

 It will also come with a manual book to guide users to a better-targeted stretch.

Another cheaper alternative is the Trideer Stretching Strap. It works just as well and has great reviews online. 

This is a great option if you want to test it out without having to splurge.   

3. Massage Ball

A massage ball often comes in various sizes and textures. The smaller ones can be the most versatile as it allows you to target sore spots and offer better pressure. This is particularly useful in tackling sore hips, back muscles, and sore spots on your arms and legs. 

This tool can also be used to release muscle knots as well as promote better blood flow. Using this tool as part of your stretch and your post hike recovery process can help with soreness and help increase flexibility and mobility. 

Some of the best massage balls are: 

The Kieba Massage ball is a popular choice for massage balls. It comes in a set of two massage balls and is firm and small enough to provide for an effective trigger point massage. 

If you are looking for a variety of trigger point massage tools, the deer jump massage ball kit would be your best bet.

It offers six different textures, firmness, and sizes for you to use for your message! 

FAQs

Should I Stretch After A Hike?

If you wonder – Should I stretch after a hike? The answer is yes! Stretching after your hike and after any form of exercise is extremely important. Do some stretches while your muscles are still warm. This will help reduce any stiffness you may feel in the next or coming days and also increase your flexibility. 

How Do You Recover From A Long Hike?

How do you recover from a long hike? You can use these eight tips as your hiking recovery cheat sheet.

1. Set a realistic limit for a long hike and do not go over it. 

2. Do not hike on an empty stomach. 

3. Keep yourself hydrated during your hike. 

4. Fuel up with snacks rich in protein during the hike. 

5. Wear supportive footwear for your long hike. 

6. Relax your feet after a long hike. 

7. Keep your pack light for long hikes.  

8. Stretch before and after your hike to recover faster. 

Should You Stretch Before or After Hiking?

Should you stretch before or after hiking? You should stretch before your hike AND after your hike. Why? Because this will increase your mobility as well as flexibility during your hike and speed up your post hike recovery process. Performing stretches can help you prevent muscle injuries and any painful soreness in the coming days.

How Do You Stretch After Walking Too Much?

So, how do you stretch after walking too much? First, find a support object. Pull your right foot back towards your buttocks with your right hand, making sure your knee is pointed to the ground. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds and repeat on the opposite leg.  

Post hike stretches are essential. It helps reduce the risk of injuries, increase flexibility and most importantly, reduce sore muscles and stiffness you may have the next day. 

Again, you don’t have to do all 13 of these post hike stretches. Choose 5 or 6 and you’re good to go! It will only take a few minutes, promise!

Remember to seek professional medical advice if you feel any unusual or prolonged pain.

Let me know in the comments below what is your go-to stretches. I would love to hear from you and have more options to choose from!

Related Posts

More To Explore

Women Wandering Beyond

Hello and Welcome!

Hi there. My name is Aisha Preece. Founder and owner of Women Wandering Beyond.

Learning how to adventure and explore through the world transformed my life and helped me become a happier person.

I want to help you do the same.
My female adventure travel site is dedicated to helping women travel more, step outside their comfort zone and experience wonders of the world beyond their wildest dreams!

Ladies, we are going on an adventure!

Search for something specific

follow our adventures