Hiking & Your Ultimate Recovery Formula Posted on 04/07/2014

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Yesterday I posted my blog about the Wilson’s Prom lighthouse hike (you can view this post here). 

Whilst this hike was suitable for beginners, the endurance side of things tested us all in a number of different ways: some mentally, most of us physically and some a whole lot more than others.

Upon completion of the walk (even day 1) there was a vast difference in the rate of recovery between group members. Whilst I bounced back, many of the group members took a few days to recover.

My friends knowing me, didn’t expect anything less. They know as well as anyone, that I look after my body, but they also assume it takes a whole lot of time and energy when really, it took my little to know time at all. To help dispel the myth that looking after yourself is a whole lot of hard work, I have listed my top tips for surviving a hike. If hiking isn’t your thing, this advice can be applied to almost any form of exercise we undertake. All you have to remember is that preparation is key. 

Put in a little training: 

This goes without saying really doesn’t it? If you aren’t fit and active putting in some training during the lead up to the event will put you in good stead. Do long walks in your shoes, climb inclines for 30 minutes on the treadmill or complete a few soft sand beach runs, just don’t forget to taper off a week out. 

For this walk, I stuck to my usual routine and maintained a fit and active lifestyle right until a few days out. 

Get an adjustment:

Before you embark on your hike, ensure your spine and hips are aligned. By seeing your Chiropractor in the lead up to your hike, you will avoid walking long distances with your hips or back in the wrong position, this will help you avoid injury, aches and pains. You can read more about my experiences with a Chiropractor here, here and here. All your chiropractic questions are answered here

Take the right pack:

I can’t stress this enough. Having the right pack will ensure the weight of your pack is carried on your hips rather than your shoulders. This will save you in the long run. 

Ensure your back-pack is fitted to your body (a good camping or outdoor recreation store will help you with this) and most importantly, your pack has mesh on the side that rests against your back to prevent it getting too hot and sweaty. 

Another good thing about taking the right pack means that you will only be able to take what you need. School back-packs and the like mean more room to fit more in. This translates to a heavier pack and as such, a slower recovery. 

Footwear:

When I walk, I like to wear barefoot trail shoes. These shoes offer minimum support, which allows me to get the most control out of each step. My toes are allowed to grasp the ground and my foot is allowed to feel the ground properly, this helps naturally with balance and distribution of weight evenly throughout my body.

The transition from normal shoes to barefoot shoes is something that takes time. I will post more about barefoot shoes in the coming weeks. If you want to know more about Barefoot Running there is a fantastic book by Christopher McDougall called ‘Born to Run’ and it is available from Amazon here

My shoes for this particular walk were the Merrell barefoot trails with Vibram soles. For those of you wondering no, I didn’t wear the five-fingered shoes (like most people, they still creep me out). 

The carb-loading myth

Unless you are going to run the entire hike, we as human beings of the modern era have more than enough energy stored within our body for energy. Forget carb-loading the night before and focus on your meal of the morning. I choose to have somePaleo Porridge with banana. This kept me full for hours and enabled slow release energy to sustain me well and truly through lunch.  

Snacks

One of the biggest mistakes people make when they are walking for long distances is to take way to many snacks. For those of you embarking on a long hike, I recommend taking maybe 2  of the following: 

  • Cacao Energy Balls
  • Fig & Almond Amazeballs
  • Fresh fruit (if you take bananas, I recommend a banana case available for around $5 from any kitchen store!)
  • ½ Avocado
  • Carrot sticks
  • The Chia Co. chia pods are a great option also.
  • Loving Earth LuvJu bars can also be a great option.
  • Pana Chocolate Bars for dessert – YUM! 

Avoid processed food bars and caffeine stimulant gels, they are full of so many artificial ingredients that will not help your body perform well or recover quickly. You want to fuel your body with real food.

Water

Despite what many people believe, adding a pinch of celtic sea salt or Himalayan rock salt to your water bottle will ensure your water has maximum hydration with minimum H20. Just make sure you can’t taste the salt – this means you have added too much. More information on these types of salts can be found here.  

Recovery formula

Once you have completed a day of walking, I can’t stress the importance of hydration. I always make sure I drink around 3L of water for every 6 hours on the track. To help me hydrate effectively, I also use Loving Earth’s freeze dried coconut water – it’s light weight and full of essential electrolytes to enhance your recovery. 

Whilst I am always an advocate for REAL FOOD, protein isn’t something I wanted to carry for 6 hours in my pack throughout the day. To help me out in this instance I bought a sachet of Organic, Fermented, 100% Brown Rice Protein (it’s the only one I could find without all of the artificial rubbish in it). A tablespoon of this in water was just what I needed. 

Stretching

It goes without saying doesn’t it? Stretch and cool down. At the end of day 1, I can guarantee this is the last thing you feel like doing but honestly, it’s the best thing for you. One of the boys was in a world of pain and went searching for a tennis ball to help ‘iron out’ his tight muscles. This is something I promised to bring on the next trek as it was a great idea if your ITB or hips are a little tight. 

That’s all I did! It was as simple as that. I wore the right shoes, took the right pack (and packed light), stretched at the end of the day and downed some H20 and recovery formula before a glass of wine. It’s not that difficult is it?  

If you have any tips for achieving ultimate recovery, please add them below, I would love to hear them! 

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