3 Foam Roller Stretches to Beat Sore Hiking Muscles

Use pressure-point stretching, known as myofascial release, to loosen key hiking muscles and boost recovery.
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leg roll

Leg Rolls

Use a water bottle (or travel foam roller) to target your quads and restore flexibility after a long day on the trail.

Sets 3 per leg | Reps 5 rolls (back and forth is one roll)

1. Lay on your stomach with the water bottle or foam roller beneath your left quad. Start with it placed just above the knee.

2. Keeping your legs straight, use your feet and arms to roll back and forth over the entire length of the muscle. Keep three points of contact with the ground (where your leg rests on the bottle counts as one). To deepen the stretch, bend your left knee so that your foot is pointing upward.

3. Complete 5 rolls, then repeat on the right leg.

shoulder-trigger-points

Shoulder Trigger Points

Massage your medial subscapularis (between your spine and shoulder blades) to relieve tightness caused by carrying a heavy pack.

Sets 3 per shoulder (1 at each location) Reps Hold each side for 60 seconds.

1. Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Place a lacrosse or massage ball along the inside edge of your left shoulder blade under the muscle. Start at the upper part of the blade.

2. Use your legs to slide laterally and vertically a few inches until you find a tender spot. Hold there for 60 seconds until your muscles relax.

3. Repeat with the ball placed at mid-shoulder blade then lower shoulder blade. Do the same sequence for your right shoulder. 

figure 4

Seated Figure Four Ball Stretch

Massage sore glutes, lower back, hips, and sacroiliac joint—where your pelvis meets your spine—with this static stretch.

Sets 1 per side | Reps Hold each side for 30 seconds, working your way up to 1 minute.

1. Sit with a lacrosse ball under your left glute, ensuring the meaty part of your buttocks is in contact with the ball. Bend your knees and keep your feet flat on the ground. Brace your right hand behind you.

2. Lift your left leg and place your left ankle on your right thigh, above the knee.

3. Sitting upright, lean toward your left shin. Gently press down on the lifted knee with your left hand. Hold for 30 seconds, then repeat with the right glute.

Use What You Have

Most hikers don’t pack a foam roller, but your hard-sided water bottle can be tough on tired muscles. Fog-Wiltse recommends wrapping your bottle in a piece of clothing or a camp towel before using it to roll out. As long as you take care not to roll over joints or bones, using a bare plastic bottle is also safe. No lacrosse or massage ball? A round river stone wrapped in a shirt won’t work for rolling, but it can be used for static stretches like the seated figure four. 

The Expert

Personal trainer Robyn Fog-Wiltse runs Sasquatch Training and coached the first American below-the-knee amputee to summit Mt. Everest.