We’ve all been there, whether it’s post demanding day hike or a physical feat that saw you unable to graciously lower your booty to the seat of the loo, grabbing at anything that will enable you to maneuver up and down, well that’s DOMS- Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness.
If this is you or anticipate this will be you with your next big adventure coming up, do I have a treat for you! Read on as I have some red hot tips that will speed up recovery time and avoid the need to install a handrail in your loo.
Drink water- stay hydrated
A pretty clear suggestion (pun intended) here but often it’s the easiest things that we overlook or don’t do that will make all the difference to our recovery. An arduous hike will induce excessive perspiration. You may have been sipping at the Camelbak during your hike but importantly we need to ensure adequate H2O intake is maintained afterward. Water is contained within every cell in our body. It is the fluid in which all processes occur, such as:
· Body temperature regulation
· Maintaining blood volume
· Lubricates and cushions joints, acting as a shock absorber for eyes, organs, and spinal cord & brain
· Active in many chemical reactions throughout our bodies, including energy production and cell renewal
· Solvent for minerals, vitamins amino acids, glucose other molecules for their absorption and use within our bodies.
Drink up to avoid fatigue, dehydration, and post-hike headaches! Add a slice of lemon or lime for extra nutrient boost and flavour.
Often we can experience post-hike blues after an awe-inspiring day(s) on the trail. You’ve been outdoors; the expansiveness, natural beauty, peace, and all those endorphins rushing through your bloodstream making you so alive, full of energy and vigour…. then you stop.
You tell yourself you’re resting and suffer couch lock. You fall into the Netflix zone; the bright flashing lights, sounds, and screens quickly become your landscape once more.
We are hard-wired to nature and suffer when we are disconnected from it. The natural silence and depth of perception acquired in the natural environment are key to a balanced nervous system.
To avoid the post-hike blues, try the following;
JOURNAL and reflect on your experience and the beauty, try to articulate the emotions to revisit and avoid falling straight back into your routine. When we reflect on how we felt on the trail, any realizations we had, we have the opportunity to grow from our new perspective and create lasting positive changes in our lives.
SUNSHINE - like a plant we synthesize Vitamin D through exposure to sunlight in the lower layers of skin epidermis. This chemical reaction is dependent on sun exposure (without sunscreen) and is the major source of the vitamin. Foods containing Vitamin D include Salmon, egg- particularly the yolk, sardines, some mushrooms & fortified foods.
Vitamin D is required or good health and well-being, strong bones and teeth as it regulates the absorption of calcium and magnesium in our gut. It also plays a part in the production of serotonin, our happy hormone.
A Harvard University study has found that;
“ Being “D-ficient” may increase the risk of a host of chronic diseases, such as osteoporosis, heart disease, some cancers, and multiple sclerosis, as well as infectious diseases, such as tuberculosis and even the seasonal flu.”
Make sure that you step outside into a green space, if only for 10 mins a day and soak up some of that Vitamin D. Make a commitment to get outdoors for a short walk, if only around the block a few times each week.
That leads me to the next important nutrient that we require for recovery.
Adequate levels of MAGNESIUM in the body are essential for the absorption and metabolism not only of vitamin D but of calcium as well.
Magnesium converts vitamin D into its active form so that it can help calcium absorption.
After a long day hiking, most clients report that calves will spasm and cramp or they suffer eye twitches. These are signs of magnesium deficiency.
Muscles need magnesium to contract, nerves to send and receive messages, our heart needs it to keep beating steadily, our immune system strong and our brain optimally functioning. Magnesium is also anti-inflammatory, helping with post-hike swelling and muscle soreness.
Cramps, twitches, spasms, muscle fatigue, poor coordination are among the common symptoms of magnesium deficiency.
Most people can get enough magnesium by eating foods such as green leafy vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, and fish.
Speak to your GP before taking any over the counter supplements as it can affect medications.
Move it to lose it (soreness)
I get it, your muscles are sore and you can’t sit down without looking like a 90-year-old with chronic arthritis… I’ve been there and the best therapy for this sort of soreness is to keep moving!
A gentle walk, yoga class and/or foam roller will be the pain that you love and hate but find strangely addictive.
Your legs will be the main culprits here and if you’ve added elevation, you will be feeling it even more! A foam roller is a gentle way to massage and lengthen the tight muscles and fascia that will be tender and tight from the trail.
If you can get to a yoga class, a gentle flow through asana or a yin class which aims to hold the position providing deep tissue release.
If you don’t have one already, go out now and buy a foam roller. These are magic for releasing muscle tension and reducing soreness associated with exercise. Simply lying over the roller, moving forward and backward over it with your quads or hamstrings will be the meeting of pain and pleasure, borderline masochistic even. When we work deep into the fascia and muscles to loosen the tightness, it speeds up recovery time and gets you on the trail sooner!
Water therapy + Epsom Salt Bath
There is nothing better than a day spent hiking the coastal trails then jumping into the cool waters of the Bay. Other than providing instant relief, wading through the cool salty waters offers many benefits such as:
· Boosting the immune system
· Improving circulation, in turn, heart health, metabolism, immune system and mental performance
· Anti-inflammatory- prevents DOMS Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness
· Promotes the release of endorphins= mood-boosting effects
· Strengthens mental aptitude, resilience, and acceptance. Chose to be comfortable with the uncomfortable
· Assists with weight loss by increasing the metabolic rate to maintain an internal temperature
· Helps boost Lymphatic drainage, removing toxins, waste, and bacteria from your body. Poor lymphatic systems are associated with colds, flu, joint pain, infection, and chronic disease
The salty waters act as a detoxifier, drawing out the lactic acid built up from hiking. A 10-15mins walk waist-deep or even shoulder-deep for full-body benefits will assist and support recovery.
If you can’t get to a salty beach, an Epsom salt bath can have similar effects. A warm bath with a cup of Epsom salts (available at the supermarket) followed by a cold shower will provide similar benefits as listed above.
Coldwater exposure therapy isn’t a new concept. Wim Hof has been spruiking this method for years and another great reason to suck it up and turn down the temperature is that studies have shown cold water exposure as a potential treatment for depression.
Hippocrates was said to have discovered the therapeutic benefits of saltwater as he noticed the healing effects it had on the injured hands of fishermen. He noted that the saltwater reduced infection risk, provided anti-inflammatory effects and pain relief.
There are many benefits to hitting the trail and challenging body and mind. It needn’t be at the expense of the following days. We have the opportunity to continue the benefits of hiking beyond the trail and if you implement some of the above strategies in conjunction with a healthy diet and restful sleep, you will be well equipped to search or a bigger and more challenging adventure without compromising health.
These are just some of the ways that I aid my recovery post-hike. What's yours?