Outdoor First Aid

Tight Ain't Right: How to Stretch for Hiking

4 simple stretches to relieve stiff, sore muscles.

If you’re like many hikers, you do a quick stretch for your hamstrings and quads and call it day. But by adding these four moves, you’ll lessen your chance of injury and reduce overall muscle soreness. Do two or three sets at your first water break and when you hit camp. Hold each position for 30 seconds.

IT band

A tight iliotibial band, the tendon along your outer thigh, can trigger side knee pain. Mark Pierce, coauthor of Conditioning for Outdoor Fitness, recommends stretching it by placing your left foot in front of the right and leaning into the right hip until your body curves like a C. Switch.


Our packs terrorize our pecs; use this stretch from Pierce to release tension. Grab a fixed object like a tree with one hand, turn your body away from it, pivoting at your shoulder. Press yourself forward.


“Stretching the inner and outer calf will help your muscles respond to uneven trails,” says Lindsey Fernandez, owner of Rough-Fit, an outdoor training center in Orange County, CA. Stand on an elevated surface like a rock and let one heel drop toward the ground. Rotate your foot first in, hold, then out. Switch.

Lower back

“To lengthen the back muscles your heavy load helped constrict, lie down, bring both knees up, and hug them against your chest,” says Chris Chorak, founder of Presidio Sport & Medicine in San Francisco.