You’ve planned the perfect backpacking trip, in the perfect place and you are just setting out. Visions of breathtaking vistas, nights under the stars, and relaxing by the fire fill your brain. However, it’s quickly apparent you aren’t as prepared as you originally thought.
Backpacking puts stress on your joints and tendons and an injury can sideline you very quickly. How can you avoid this and prepare your body for your backpacking adventure? Following are some exercises to ensure you are in shape as you take off in the great outdoors.
Experts recommend you do heel raises regularly before your backpacking trip, as this exercise improves the stability of your ankles and develops strength in your calves. Find a low step and step up, making sure to keep the heels hanging off the back of the step. Keep the soles of your feet parallel to the ground and raise your heels. Go up until you feel the muscles of the calves fully contract, making sure to distribute your weight evenly between the legs. Don’t roll to the outside edges of the feet when doing so. Make sure the inside of your heel isn’t visible when you glance down. Lower the feet until the soles are parallel to the floor once again, and one repetition has been completed.
RECOMMENDATION: Do 3 sets of 30 repetitions with a 30- second rest period between each set.
Move down so you are standing in front of the step. Now take one foot and step up before moving the second leg up into a 90-degree bend. Count to two and step down again. Make sure to keep your outer hip engaged to prevent the knee from collapsing inward and ensure the knee is at a 90-degree angle during the exercise. This exercise makes your hips stronger and works to improve your overall alignment to prevent knee and hip sprains.
RECOMMENDATION: Do 3 sets of 15 repetitions for each leg, resting 30 seconds between each set.
Squats with Heel Taps
This exercise mimics the downhill motion used during backpacking and strengthens the quads and knees without putting undue stress on the joints. Turn around so you are facing backward on the step. With both feet flat on the step, extend one leg and flex the foot until the shin and foot make a right angle. Keeping the hips level, drop the body until the heel is almost touching the floor. Tap the heel on the floor and slow rise. Be sure to keep the knee lined up with the hips and ankles and the hips level throughout the exercise.
RECOMMENDATION: Do 3 sets of 15 reps for each leg, taking a 30-second break between each set.
Be Prepared by Staying Fit
Being prepared is more than simply ensuring the right gear is packed and the trail is planned. You need to make certain your body is in good shape and ready for the adventure you will be tackling. With the help of these backpacking exercises, you can get into shape and reduce your risk of sprains and strains. Get started today, the whole world is waiting for you to explore.