No matter how many sets of Wii tennis you played this winter, most indoor workouts can’t replicate the conditions of an actual trail. Make sure your first hike is a safe one with these three drills designed to protect your joints from early-season injuries. We’ve broken our drills into three categories: stability, agility and power. Each one targets a different weak point and offers a workout solution to prevent hiking injuries. For added realism, exercise in your hiking boots. High-tops might turn heads at the gym, but they could keep you from turning an ankle.
Over-developed quads can stress knees. This exercise builds muscles to protect this joint.
Overlay two jump ropes to create a plus sign (+) on the floor. Visualize the bottom right space as 1, and the other spaces as 2, 3, and 4, counter-clockwise. Step into space 1. Keeping your feet together, make a two-footed leap from square 1 to 2, then count up, jumping into 3, 4, and back to 1 in rapid succession. Repeat the pattern for 2 minutes.
Side-to-side leaps add corrective power to muscles that surround your knee, minimizing the impact on your ligaments.
If crossing an icy parking lot has been your trickiest winter footwork, you need to rebuild your reflexive reactions for the trail.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart with 30 feet of space ahead. Leap up and forward, crossing your legs in midair so that you land, still facing forward, with your feet crossed. Jump forward again, uncrossing your legs to return to your original orientation. Continue these jumps for 30 feet, then turn around and come back for a full lap. Repeat twice more.
Building proprioception (the sense of space and movement) in your feet and ankles will reduce the risk of a fall.
Most treadmill ramps stop at 15 degrees, but real trails get steeper.
Stand with your feet together. Give yourself 20 feet of space. Bend at the waist and knees until your hands are on the floor. Supporting your weight with your hands, spring your feet back so that your torso is extended (a push-up position). Wait one second, then spring your feet forward to your hands and return to a standing position. Take three two-footed leaps forward. After your third touchdown, reverse direction and repeat the entire exercise three more times.
This combo of jumps prepares your torso and legs to power through explosive scrambles.