Post-Hike Recovery Tips

After a long day on the trail, or upon returning from a multi-day camping or backpacking adventure, my body sure needs some recovery time!

How to help your body feel like 100% again?:

Put on a Pair of Compression Socks

Compression socks: Several companies make good compression socks, including these Sockwell Women’s Circulators, which help maximize circulation in your legs. The spandex in compression socks helps improve blood flow and therefore muscle recovery. I always put on a pair after a long trail run or hike!

Use a Muscle Recovery Gel or Ointment

Muscle Recovery Gels: If you’re really sore after a hike or workout, or develop those horrible leg pains known as shin splits, there are safe, homeopathic options such as Hyland’s Muscle Therapy Gel and Traumeel that can help your muscles recover! Both of these brands contain Arnica, a natural remedy for swelling and bruising.

Re-Fuel with a Nutritious Snack

Grab a snack! It is important to stay hydrated and eat nutritious food during and after any cardio activity, including hiking and trail running. Because they are so tasty and have a good mix of carbs and protein, I like CLIF Bar Crunch bars.

What have you found helpful for your body after a hike?

8 comments

  1. Hiking Lady says:

    Hi Stacie,
    I’m so sorry to hear about your leg pain! Is the pain in your hamstrings or calves or both? Since I don’t know more details, I am guessing at what is going on. My sense is that your muscles are extremely tight, particularly if the hike you went on was hilly (which would have tightened up your calves and hamstrings). After every hike, always be sure to stretch. Oftentimes people finish a hike, then get into a long car ride home, and that causes lots of muscle stiffness. Stretching your muscles, massaging your legs, and doing moderate walking in the days following an intense hike tend to help with recovery. Motrin is good for anti-inflammatory (it is Ibuprofen) so much better than Tylenol, which is acetaminophen. You can also trying taking a bath with Epsom Salt, which is a muscle relaxant. I hope some of these suggestions help you. If you are still in pain a week later, please see a doctor. Happy trails!

  2. Stacie says:

    I went on a hike almost four days ago now and I am still in a lot of pain my the backs of my legs. It’s super hard to walk normal, and when I do force myself to, it really hurts. Getting up and sitting down are hard and painful. I have been using A535 on my legs at night, and taking a Tylenol 3 and an Extra Strength Motrin at night as well. And I have been resting them as much as possible in the day with slight walking every once in a while so I don’t over rest them since I was told not to do that. I need to be better in like three days cause were going to a baseball game and will be doing a lot of walking.

    Do you have any ideas of what to do Hiking Lady?

    I also walked to the mall, around the mall, and home from the mall the morning after the hike…could I have damaged things more by doing so?

  3. FD says:

    Hi Hiking Lady,

    Lactate released from the muscle is an essential energy source for endurance athletes/hikers, and their bodies have learned to use it efficiently. The only athletes whose lactate levels are higher than base level after the competition, are those that engage their fast-twich muscle fibers at high intensity for more than 3 minutes at the time. Even then, the lactate levels normalize within 60 minutes. Lactic acid is not an issue for hikers/climbers. The delayed-onset soreness is due to muscle fiber damage, mineral depletion, tissue dehydration, and motor neuron over-stimulation. Therapeutic massage and elevating the legs are good prescription, in addition to resting, sipping water, and eating some healthy snacks. Dipping your legs in a cold mountain stream for 2-3 minutes (or less) may constrict blood vessels and help with recovery. Make sure to dry your feet afterwards. Hope this helps!

  4. Hiking Lady says:

    Hi Camping Glamis! Elevating your legs definitely can help with recovery. That helps eliminate the lactic acid that accumulates after a long hike or run! Similarly, compression socks helps increase blood circulation and helps reduce the amount of lactic acid concentrated in our lower legs. Both ideas are great! Thanks and happy trails!

  5. If my feet had their on feet, they’d ran away from me after using them for a long, tiring walk. LOL. 🙂 Your ideas are great, I’m very curious about the compression socks. What I usually do to bring back circulation to my feet is that I elevate them on a chair or table. They’ll feel rested after. 🙂

  6. AdkJack says:

    These are good ideas but I also want to throw out the idea that it is okay to be sore and a bit stiff after exercise. I think sometimes as a society we feel we have to alleviate all the pain all the time. Here in North America it has created levels of unhealthy dependency. We don’t always have to take a pill, put on a lotion, or receive a treatment for what is perfectly natural.

    Keep up the good work and thanks for the opportunity to share my thoughts.

  7. Hiking Lady says:

    Hi Tracey! That’s a great point about Epsom salt baths! Epsom salt helps with muscle recovery. It is very low cost (a huge bag can be bought at Costco). For those readers who’ve never tried it, just put in about half a cup of Epsom salts into a warm/hot bath, and then relax… the magnesium in the salts help relieve joint and muscle pain, as well as stress related issues.

  8. Tracey says:

    I have tried all of the remedies listed here on this blog, except for the compression socks…those sound interesting. I’ve learned the importance of proper hydration, (water before, during, and especially after the trail), and fresh fruit and powerbars are great for snacks. The only thing I’d add? Epsom salt baths are a welcome relief after a long, strenuous hike. And, these days, they come in a variety of scents…not the menthols smells of childhood. Think green tea, lavender, and even vanilla! See you on a trail soon!

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