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Title image:  Getting ready for expeditions, resources and tips

Expedtion Training Series

Stretching After a Hike

After a hard day of carrying a pack over varied terrain and long distances, once you have changed into some dry comfortable camp clothes and gotten a refreshing drink, do a few simple cool-down stretches to reduce muscle fatigue and soreness and increase the likelihood that you will feel refreshed and ready to continue in the morning. Complete them in the order presented, from upper body to lower body to rotational stretching on a sit mat or sleeping pad.

1. Chest Stretch, 30 sec.

To stretch tired or tight muscles in the upper back, shoulders, neck and chest, and return you to neutral, upright posture after carrying a pack all day, reach your hands behind you and clasp fingers, then gradually pull hands up and away from your buttocks. If you have difficulty touching hands behind your back, simply place your palms on your butt, pull the elbows back behind you, and look up toward the sky. Hold for 30 seconds. For a deeper, more rhythmic stretch, have a buddy very gently pull your clasped hands slowly skyward as you slowly exhale, then return to start on an inhale, and repeat 3-5 times.

2. Calf Stretch, 30 sec. each

To stretch the calves (especially beneficial after any steep ascents, boulder field crossing, cramponing, or ice climbing) position yourself as shown above against a tree, or simply rest your hands on your thighs for support, back leg extended and back heel flat on the ground. Hold for 30 seconds, breathing comfortably, and repeat to the other side.

3. Straddle Stretch, 30 sec. each side

To stretch the hamstrings, inner thigh, hip, and lower back muscles, take a wide stance (feet a bit wider than shoulder width), and slowly bend forward at the waist with straight legs. Avoid locking out at the knees. Grasp your elbows with hands and dangle your head between your legs. As the hamstrings and back relax, shift over to one side, reaching toward your knee, shin or toes, bending at the hips and stretching the chest toward the thigh. Hold 30 seconds. Repeat to the other side. To get out of the stretch, come back to center, place both hands on the thighs, bend your knees slightly, and slowly and smoothly round up through the spine one vertebrae at a time, exhaling as you stand up.

4. Frog Stretch, 30 sec.

To stretch the inner thighs, hips, hamstrings and lower back, squat down as low as possible keeping heels flat on the ground. Press the knees open with the elbows and hold for 30 seconds. If you struggle with the deep squat position, you can do a wide-stance stretch with your butt resting on a log, rock, or backpack instead. If you are unable to keep heels on the ground, repeat or include stretch #2 for your calves.

5. Pretzel Stretch, 30 sec.

Finally, to fully stretch all the muscles in your torso, lower back and glutes, sit on your sleeping pad or sit pad with legs stretched out in front of you. To stretch the right buttocks, bring the right foot across and just outside the knee, foot flat on the ground. Extend tall out of the torso and on an exhale, gently twist to the right, wrapping your arm around the right knee to hug it close to your chest. Place the right hand behind your back or stretched out behind you to get a chest stretch. Follow the hand with your eyes and on each exhale see if you can rotate a little farther back. Slowly uncoil and repeat to the other side. Hold each 30 seconds.

With as little as 5 minutes of stretching as soon as you get into camp, you can feel more refreshed, less fatigued, and ready to get down to the business of setting up camp.

This tip brought to you by Berg Adventures conditioning partner, Body Results. For more conditioning information, products and services and special pricing for Berg Adventures members go to