In the world of outdoor enthusiasts, it is rare to find a person who feels guilt-free when packing a backpack and heading out to take a hike. Heck, even after having soaked up all that beauty and new sights our brains can muster, there’s always that nagging voice telling us that we should never have enjoyed ourselves so much or spent so much time outside like moran vista campground. This might be true for some people in general, but few know that they have options other than sitting on the couch after work and watching Netflix all night. All this guilt stems from the fear of potentially damaging our body with hiking strenuous activities like trail running or backpacking.

1. Walk Before You Run

As a beginner, hiking is a great activity to ease your way into more strenuous and potentially damaging activities such as trail running. Benefits of hiking include the ability to cross-train for multi-day backpacking trips, the opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors without leaving your car at home, and a chance to get in some exercise without feeling like you put too much effort into it. Hiking is also a great activity for most people because it can be taken at pretty much any pace that one would like. If you’re looking to lose weight or do something to improve your health, then try hiking first before throwing yourself into more damaging activities such as trail running or backpacking.

2. Do It Right the First Time

This might sound like an obvious tip, but so many people make the mistake of not taking care of their bodies while hiking because they fear getting injured. The reality is that even if you walk on all fours while you’re in the forest, it will probably still feel more intense than a hike. The weight of your pack will force you to take frequent breaks and shorten your hikes, this will cause damage to your body. Research has shown that hikers who play it safe and slow down early in their hikes experience more short-term health benefits than those who push it to the limits. You should start with a light backpack and make your way up to bigger packs as you get used to hiking.

3. Get Used to the Weight

One of the biggest hurdles that beginner hikers face is dealing with having a lot of weight in their bags and on their backs. The best way to deal with this is to start out small and grow from there. A good rule to follow is increasing the weight by no more than 10 percent each week, this will allow your muscles time to get used to the extra weight before they become too sore or damaged.

4. Find a Trail You Can Manage

Before you go out for a hike, make sure to do your research and find an easier trail that will work well for you as a beginner. That way, you can get some experience under your belt and then start venturing off into the more challenging trails. Make sure that you only take on trails that have clearly marked splits so that you are aware when it’s time to turn around if it starts getting too intense for your comfort. Another place to look when finding easier trails would be the East Coast Trail . It is one of the most popular coastlines in Canada and features 278 kilometers of trails from St. John’s, Newfoundland to Cappahayden, Nova Scotia.

5. Stretch First

Most people don’t really pay attention to stretching, but it’s very important to your health and hiking ability. Before you head out on a hike, make sure that you are properly warmed up and that you are also stretching out your calves and thighs before heading out. Stretch lightly so that you can control the muscles. When done correctly, light stretches will help reduce muscle soreness after your hike and reduce the chances of sprains or tears during your hike.

6. Pay Attention to Footwear

When it comes to getting started with hiking, avoid running footwear such as trail running shoes and instead use hiking boots or normal running sneakers for traction on the trails. The biggest mistake that most people make when they begin hiking is wearing shoes that have a lot of traction. The problem with this is that you lose the ability to feel the terrain under your feet and this can cause you to trip or fall if something unexpected pops up in front of you.

7. Stretch and Ice After Every Hike

The best way to recover after a hike is by stretching out your muscles and icing down any sore spots, especially if you are coming down with an injury such as tendonitis or plantar fasciitis. Lightly stretch out your calves and hamstrings by keeping your leg straight out and gently pulling it towards you. Ice any areas that are inflamed by placing a bag of frozen vegetables on the affected area. Leave the bag in place for at least 15 minutes to reduce the swelling. 

8. Don’t Overdo It

It is important to know your limits and not overdo it when you’re beginning to take up  hiking. You should not hike if you have a cold or sniffle, or have taken an injury recently. You should also avoid hiking when you feel exhausted or are about to get sick. If you feel like there’s no way that you can keep going without resting, then sit down and rest until it is time to head back home

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