Work It Out: Yoga relief for hikers and backpackers
Special to the Daily
There are countless hiking trails in Summit County and the surrounding areas, and we know that you’re on them. How can you resist? The benefits of hiking range from improved bone density to weight loss to elevated mood, plus it’s a visual feast.
In addition to these (and other) benefits, hiking also takes a toll on your body and often results in tired legs, tight hips, a sore back and stiff lower-body joints. Be kind to yourself when you get off the trail with four yoga poses designed to relieve the stress of hiking.
Just remember: Take 5-10 breaths in each pose, allowing your body to relax and restore your muscles and connective tissue. Bring these poses with you on every hike to reduce stiffness and soreness, leaving you healthy and ready for your next backcountry adventure.
Carrying a pack is an essential part of a trip, but it can lead to compressed discs in your spine. Pay extra attention to your back after a day on the trail with the cat/cow, a simple but effective pose to bring your back comfort. This pose relieves the upper, middle and lower back. It is an excellent choice following a long hike or any activity that strains the back, such as sitting at a computer or driving long distances.
Cat/cow requires you to be on your hands and knees, so if you’re on the trail, you’ll have to find a relatively flat spot for padding, such as a sleeping bag or fleece blanket. The benefits of this pose make it worth the bother to find a comfortable spot.
Begin on your hands and knees, with your spine in a neutral position.
Inhale and lower your belly to the ground while gently gazing up (cow).
Exhale and round your back to the sky, looking between your legs (cat).
Repeat 5 times.
Child’s pose offers a gentle stretch to ankles and knees, along with the upper and lower back. It also calms the nervous system and promotes strong, steady breathing, which makes it a great posture to relieve anxiety and stress, on or off the trail.
Kneel on the ground. Again, make sure you have something soft to kneel on.
Bring knees together.
Sit on your heels. If it’s strenuous to sit on your heels through this posture, you can modify it by placing a thickly folded blanket between your calves and backs of your thighs.
Rest your torso over your thighs, so that your forehead touches the ground.
Let your arms rest at your sides, with your palms facing up.
Hold for 5-10 breaths.
If you are pregnant or have gone through hip surgery, you can practice this pose with a slight modification. Instead of bringing your knees completely together, touch your big toes and keep your knees at least hip distance apart. This takes the strain off your hips and removes unnecessary pressure from your stomach.
Hiking boots keep your ankles locked in place for hours. Before and after your hike, give them a chance to open and stretch with hero pose. In addition to opening the ankles, hero pose also stretches knees and quads — the skiing muscles and joints. Keep this pose in mind as the seasons change and use it to recover after Nordic or alpine skiing. That said, this pose is not recommended for people with knee injuries.
Kneel on the ground and separate your feet wider than your hips.
Sit between your heels. If it’s strenuous to sit on your heels through this posture, modify it the same way as child’s pose with a blanket between your thighs and calves.
Keep your back straight. For an additional stretch, lean back or lay down while gazing up.
Hold for 5-10 breaths.
Reclined figure four pose
Hip tightness can lead to discomfort in the lower back. Take a few breaths in a reclined figure four to open the hips, breathing deeply into any stiffness that you encounter in this pose.
Lie on your back.
Bend your knees, with the soles of your feet on the ground. Your feet should be as wide as your hips.
Cross your right ankle over your left knee and flex your right foot.
Relax your head and shoulders to the ground. For a more intense stretch, lift your left leg, reach your left arm around your left leg, then reach your right arm between your legs and interlace your hands behind your left thigh.
Hold for 5-10 breaths.
Repeat on the opposite side.
Pinna Gallant is the owner of Peak Yoga, Dillon’s only dedicated yoga studio. You can find out more about Peak Yoga at http://www.peakyogastudio.com.
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.