Search site

Are you a keen hiker? If you’re looking for ways to improve your hiking form, distance and stamina then you are in the right place. Capital Physio’s physiotherapist Omkar is here to share his expertise on how yoga can boost your flexibility to improve your hiking life.

 

Flexibility and Hiking

Working on your flexibility is an important aspect of training for hikers. Walking and hiking over long periods can increase tightness in your muscles – particularly in the two joint muscles in your lower limbs. If you incorporate resistance training in to your routine, you’re at risk of further shortening these muscles.

Poor levels of functional flexibility have a negative impact on your body’s movement biomechanics. The result? A predisposition to inefficient and ineffective movement, an increased risk of injuries and abnormal biomechanics. It is therefore of paramount importance to include two or three (at least) recovery days incorporating flexibility training into your training week.

 

How can I improve my flexibility?

The best way to improve your flexibility is to adopt a multimodal approach – meaning using several different types of activity. This will challenge your flexibility in the most effective way, as well as keeping your mind interested and active. My personal favourite types of flexibility training are yoga and foam rolling.

Yoga for flexibility

Other than its flexibility benefits, practising yoga can help enhance your health, increase strength and reduce symptoms of stress, depression and anxiety. These are my favourite yoga poses which help greatly to maintain my flexibility.

 

Bhujangasana

Bhujanga = Snake, Asana = Pose. Also known as Cobra.

Benefits for hikers:
  • Stretches anterior muscles of shoulder and abdominals
  • Stretches hip flexors
  • Reduces lower back stiffness
  • Strengthens the spine by encouraging extension

It’s also a very good movement if you have a desk job and are a ‘weekend warrior’ when it comes to hiking.

How to do it:

Lie on your stomach with your chin touching the ground and palms firmly on the floor, level with your ears. Inhale and lift your chest and upper back from the floor, engaging your core muscles. Hold this position for 10-15 seconds before lengthening down onto the mat. Repeat 10 times.

 

Hastapadasana

Hasta = hand, Pada = foot, Asana = pose. Also called Hand to foot pose in standing

Benefits for hikers:
  • Stretches lower back muscles, glutes and hamstrings
  • Improves flexibility in the spine
  • Excellent flexibility stretch for the body’s posterior chain
How to do it:

Stand tall with weight even between your feet. Inhale and extend your arms and hands above your head. Breath out and bend forwards from your waist to try and touch your toes. If you have tight hamstrings, you may struggle to reach all the way to your toes so touch your shins instead. Hold this position for 10 seconds and return to your starting position.

 

Dhanurasana

Dhanu = bow, Asana = pose. Commonly called Bow pose

Benefits for hikers:
  • Stretches the entire front of the body, ankles, thighs and groins, abdomen and chest, throat and deep hip flexors (psoas)
  • Strengthens the back muscles

Another fantastic exercise for weekend warriors.

How do it:

Lie on your stomach with your knees slightly apart and legs bent. Reach your hands back to grasp your feet or ankles. Breath out to lift your legs and chest from the floor to form a ‘bow’ shape. Hold this position for count of ten then lower back to your starting position. Rest and repeat.

 

Pawanamuktasana

Pawan = air, Mukta = release, Asana = pose. Also called Air releasing pose

Benefits for hikers:
  • Stretches the neck and back.
  • Strengthens the lower back muscles and loosens the spinal vertebrae
  • A posterior chain stretch
How to do it:

Lie on the floor on your back. Flex both legs at the knees and rest your thighs against your abdomen, keeping knees and ankles together. Wrap your arms around your knees, hands clasping opposite elbows. Bend your neck to bring your chin onto the knees. Hold here and breath normally to maintain the asana. Straighten your neck and lower your head to the floor. Release the arms and place them beside your body. Exhale slowly to lower your legs back to a supine position.

 

Setubandasana

Setu = bridge, Asana = Pose. Can be called Bridge pose.

Similar to bridging.

Benefits for hikers:
  • Tones and strengthens your glutes
  • Activates your core
  • Activates your back extensors, adductors and hamstrings
  • Effectively stretches chest, neck and spine
How to do it:

Lie on the floor with your hands to the side, knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Squeeze your glutes hard, engage your core and lift your hips up off the ground until your body is in one long line. Take care not to hyperextend your back. Hold here for a few seconds before lowering gently back down to the ground.

 

Give these yoga stretches a try and let me know how you get on…

Do you feel you could benefit from a personalised training plan? Why not consult a physiotherapist? A physiotherapist can assess and evaluate your biomechanics and prescribe an exercise programme to prolong your walking mileage and walking years without any hiccups.


Cl
ick here
 to find your nearest Capital Physio clinic, where our expert physiotherapists are ready to help you with a personalised treatment programme. Any questions? Contact our friendly Holborn HQ by calling 033 0333 0435 or emailing clientcare@capitalphysio.com. You can also find us on TwitterFacebook and Instagram.