It is normal to experience sore calves after hiking, despite how uncomfortable it is. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to relieve sore muscles after hiking, even though it can be hard on your calves. You can return to the trail more quickly by stretching, applying ice, and working out your legs.
What Causes Sore Calves After Hiking?
Any time your leg muscles are subjected to more stress than usual, they will become sore. Your calves will naturally exert more effort than they are accustomed to if you are hiking for an extended period of time over difficult terrain. During the hike itself, you’ll benefit from increased blood flow and leg oxygenation, but once you stop and rest, there may be a side effect that causes extremely sore muscles.
Lactic Acid Build Up In Calves While Hiking
A lot of people are unaware that lactic acid exists. It’s a particular class of chemical that’s created when your body converts glucose to pyruvic acid, a byproduct that then interacts with water to form lactic acid.
Lactic acid is typically expelled from your body while you’re at rest via respiration and circulation. The chemicals can accumulate in various parts of your body, though, if you don’t give your body a chance to flush them out.
It’s possible that an accumulation of this substance is to blame if you’ve ever experienced sore calves after hiking or exercising. When there isn’t enough oxygen available to power the muscles and produce ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which provides energy for movement, lactate builds up in the body. Cramping, pain, and discomfort can result from this accumulation when you’re exercising. Fortunately, you can lessen the discomfort caused by lactic acid buildup if you can properly cool down and stretch your calves.
Calf Pain When Hiking Uphill
Because your feet and ankles frequently have a wider range of motion on steep terrain, you might experience more calf pain when walking uphill. As a result, your calves and legs will have to work much harder than they would if you were moving downhill or on flat ground to move your body up and forward.
Instead of attempting to climb an incline head-on, try walking in a zig-zag across the trail to create minuscule switchbacks for yourself to help relieve calf tightness and pain while hiking uphill. Take as many breaks as you need to while walking uphill to give your muscles a chance to rest and replenish their supply of oxygen.
To provide your feet, ankles, and calves with the support they require, make sure to wear hiking shoes that fit properly and have high-quality insoles.
Tips To Prevent Sore Calf Muscles As A Hiker
You’ll scoff at these common sense suggestions, but I’m going to beg you to follow them regularly so you won’t be groaning in agony after a hike.
Sometimes things are really that easy!
Before You Hit The Trail
- Beginner hikers should start with modest mileage and elevation gain targets and work their way up to strenuous hiking.
- Learn how to speak up for yourself when other hikers want to take on a hike that is beyond your current level of fitness.
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator, park far from the entrance, and use a standing desk whenever possible to strengthen your calf muscles.
- If you can only fit one hike into your schedule each week, make the most of the other days by staying active with cross-training and brisk daily walks to tone your calves.
- When you can walk barefoot so that your calf muscles can have the freedom to lengthen and get stronger. helps to toughen up your feet, too.
- Include “step ups” in your daily routine. Follow the instructions exactly: step up and down from a step (stair, stool) in your home as part of your fitness routine. This trains and maintains the strength of your legs in a manner similar to what they do for you when you hike.
During The Hike
- Stretching exercises can help you warm up your legs before you begin your hike.
- Avoid hiking in subpar or worn-out trail footwear because doing so will put your muscles in danger as they try to keep you stable and upright. Utilize these suggestions to help you make wise decisions.
- Pay attention to your hiking pace and slow down when your aching calves start to give you feedback.
- Use intervals that make sense for the trail you’re on and take a break to drink water and refuel your muscles.
- Wear a hydration backpack for constant access to water if stopping for a drink is a deal-breaker for you.
- At your lunch location, elevate your lower legs to allow blood to flow away to the heart and to your calf muscles with oxygenated blood.
- Pull on your rain pants to keep your lower body warmed up before you feel too cold, thus avoiding tight leg muscles.
- Do you know that you occasionally get a cold? Wear these leggings underneath your outer layer. Read my review of prAna leggings as well.
- When you’re hiking on snow or through chilly, wet conditions, hiking gaiters will keep your calves warmer.
- Compression socks can help your lower legs receive more blood and prevent soreness by increasing blood flow.
After Your Hike
- As soon as your boots or trail shoes are taken off from each hike, stretch your legs. Simple toe touches, heel lifts, and the other stretches mentioned above are all that is required.
- Apply a foam roller, such as this one, to sore areas.
- Make time to replenish the water you lost while hiking (through sweating, urinating, respiration, defecating, and possibly a few tears on the uphill sections).
- If you want to make up for the nutrients you lost while hiking, eat like the athlete you are. Here are some tips on eating well while hiking.
Best Foods To Eat After A Hike
Your body demands recovery after a strenuous hike. You need good nutrition, not just junk food, to get you moving again.
Good nutrition is essential for minimizing and getting rid of the soreness and pain you experience after a strenuous hike.
Some of the top foods to eat following a strenuous hike include:
One of the most popular breakfast options is oatmeal. It is very nourishing and high in fiber, which will keep you full for hours. If you want a sweet taste, you might want to drizzle some honey or syrup on top.
Beans are great for hikers because they are packed with proteins and iron, two nutrients that your body.
Due to its probiotic content and live active cultures, yogurt is very healthy for your body. Your digestive system will benefit from these cultures, and your bones and teeth will be strengthened. A more flavorful meal can be made by combining yogurt with granola or fruits.
One of nature’s most ideal foods is an egg. In addition to proteins (which include all nine essential amino acids), vitamins B12 and B2, vitamin D, riboflavin, iron, phosphorus, and zinc, they also contain riboflavin. They also include choline, which is necessary for healthy cell function.
Additionally, eggs are rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, two antioxidants that help prevent heart disease by keeping the arteries clear, as well as lecithin, a substance crucial for brain function.
Calf muscle soreness and tightness are probably familiar to hikers who experience leg pain after lengthy hikes.
If you hike frequently or intend to hike far distances, this can be very crippling.
Fortunately, there are ways to make sure that your leg pain does not ruin your hiking plans.
You should be able to hike with little risk of experiencing any leg issues if you use the prevention and treatment advice provided above, and you should recover from calf soreness quickly.