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Top 5 Exercises I Do Before Hiking

Today, we're going to focus on a few simple exercises focused on our hips and feet. You may find that this helps your knees feel amazing after your next day out on the trails! 

You could add this to your current routine, or follow along in this six-minute strength routine to get you ready to go out hiking. 

As always, I want you to choose the variation of the exercise that you can do confidently. 

Clock Squats

Balance on one foot, keeping those hips even. 

Reach one foot out in front of you. Then touch all “the numbers of the clock”, standing up fully in between each touch and stopping once you’re in the same position as a curtsy lunge. 

We want to touch down lightly, but I don't want you to put any weight on that foot as it comes to the ground. We want to let the standing leg do the work here like it does when we're out hiking. 

As you're doing this, I want you to pay attention to your feet and hips. 

Your foot might be moving around a little bit – we want that! We want those muscles to help us maintain our balance. 

Your hip might be burning and we want those muscles in the hips to be working to keep us stable. 

If this is too easy for you, you can come up onto your tiptoes. That's going to get more of your medial quad and calf muscles involved in the movement.  

And if the harder modification is still too easy, feel free to come up onto the balls of your feet. This puts more tension on your calf and VMO, which is one of your quad muscles. 

But if the first variation is challenging enough for you from a balance and strength point of view then just keep on keeping on. 

Hip Dips 

This is a super small movement where we are focusing on moving one hip down and up while in a standing position.

Start by balancing on one leg with your hips in a level position. 

Hinge at the knee and then drop the hips below level,  then bring them up just to level. 

A lot of times when I introduce this exercise, the first thing people do is to drop down a little bit and then they hike up really high. We don't want that. We want to ensure that we are bringing the hips back to level to ensure we are training the muscles properly. 

Picking a spot can help you keep your balance while you’re doing this. But remember, struggling with your balance isn't a bad thing. As we practice, we're going to get way better! 

External Rotations 

Standing on one leg with the elevated foot hovering just over the floor at almost level, rotate the femur out to the side and then back to the front.

You should feel the glutes activate to make this movement happen. You might also feel the foot muscles being active to keep your balance. 

If balance is something you're struggling with, you could totally do this with a hand on a wall or a chair. 

If it's difficult for you to try and keep your hips level and keep that foot off the ground, you could also do this movement on a raised surface, like a step or a stair, so long as you feel comfortable. That way you can focus on fully rotating the elevated leg without moving it laterally. 

Exercise: Foot (aka Arch) Shortening 

We are switching the focus on the feet. Shoes and socks can come off for these next two exercises to get the full range of movement. 

With the first foot exercise, we are going to work on foot-shortening exercises. So you're squeezing your arches and letting them relax. You can do this standing up or from a seated position for a modified version.

You want to do that without pressing your big toes into the ground, crunching your toes, or extending them. We want this to be a shortening that happens from the intrinsic foot muscles. 

I want you to pay attention as you're trying to lift those arches. You should feel your pelvic floor activate here. 

We want to avoid rolling onto the outsides of our feet. We don't want our toes to come off the ground here. This is purely an action between the ball of your foot and your heel. And they're trying to get closer together as your arches lift and become bigger.

If you're trying this and it doesn't look like anything's moving, that's okay! It just means we need to practice this a little bit more. Our body is going to learn how to do it, and we're going to benefit from having stronger feet.


Toe Switching 

For our final exercise, we are going to be doing toe switching.  

Start by pressing your big toes down and lifting the little toes up, then switching. So pressing all of our toes down except for our big toes that we lift up. And we're going to go back and forth on this for 30 seconds. 

At first, this might not work for you. You might find that all your toes want to go the same direction just because you haven't tried this before. And that's okay. 

This is a fun one to practice in your shoes if you have a minute of downtime. It's a good way to fidget when you're waiting in line at the grocery store! 

If this is really tough for you, you can start by doing it while seated. As you get more proficient at it, you can try it while standing. 

And if you really want to up the ante, you can try it while standing on one foot. That is super hard. 

You could repeat these exercises every second day to help you on the trails. 

Have a WILDR week and we'll talk to you guys soon!


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