Stretches for Hikers

Try these stretches at your car before a hike.

Lunge/Groin/Hamstring Stretch

Standing behind your vehicle, place your hands on the back of the car, and step your right leg back (onto your toes) into a lunge so your left leg (in front) is creating a 45-degree angle. Bend your left knee to lower more into the lunge then straighten the left leg to create a hamstring/calf stretch. Continue to bend the left knee and to return to the lunge position, then straighten the left leg again, repeating 4-7 times. With each repetition, stay in the stretch a bit longer and go a bit deeper. From the lunge position, move the right leg a bit further back behind you to get an achilles/calf stretch by lifting and lowering the right heel to and from the ground. Stay in the stretch for 20-30 seconds and repeat 4-5 times. Repeat with the other leg.

Separate Leg Stretch

Spread feet wide apart and bend forward at the hips, bringing your upper body down to the floor. Grab the outside of each foot (you may need to bend your knees to do so). With knees bent, pull down more so the top of your head is towards the floor, and then begin to straighten your knees. Take your time because this is a slow active stretch. In time, you want to be able to have your knees straight. Continue to pull down with your hands to lengthen the spine, open the shoulder blades as well as the hamstrings and gluteus. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat 2-3 times.

IT Band/Hip Stretch

Cross your right leg over your left so your right foot is on the outside (to the left) of the left foot. Keeping your feet flat and straight, slowly bend forward to bring your hands towards the ground and touch the ground if possible. Allow your head to hand down towards the ground and stretch here for 30-60 seconds. Repeat with your left leg crossed over the right.

Arm/Chest Opener

Bring your arms behind yourself and interlace your fingers. Pull your shoulder blades back and at the same time, lift your head and chest up to the sky (your interlaced hands will drop lower towards your buttocks). Hold for 20-30 seconds and repeat 2-3 times. It is common to start to bend forward during a hike so you may want to open up your chest again after your hike.

Quad Stretch

I recommend standing close to your car for this stretch so you can stabilize yourself as needed. In standing, grab your right ankle from the outside with your right hand. Once you have your right ankle, make sure your right knee is slightly in front of you so you can begin the stretch by standing up straight. From here, begin to pull the right leg behind you (place your left hand on your car for balance if you’d like to). I like to think of the movement as my bent right knee moving down toward the ground and back behind me. At the same time your right shoulder blade will stretch to glide behind you and the right side of your chest will open up. Remember to stand up straight and try not to tilt or round forward. Stay in the stretch for about 30 seconds and repeat on the left leg. Repeat and alternate legs at least 1-2 more times.