Your Outdoor Skills: Self Care in the Backcountry
Exploring the backcountry can take a toll on your body. Whether you are on foot, bike, or boat, it takes a lot of effort and puts extra strain on your muscles. From those taking months off to explore to the weekend warriors, we want to make sure you have the best experience in the backcountry and avoid injury. One key element to enjoying any adventure starts with taking care of your personal motor - your body.
Yoga & Stretching
After a long day traveling by foot, pedaling a bike, or paddling a kayak or canoe, your muscles need some extra attention. Basic stretching can loosen sore, overworked muscles which helps prevent injury, decreases muscle soreness, and improves your night of sleep. Focus on the muscles and areas of your body that have worked the hardest during the day.
Yoga progressions can also be very helpful since it mixes movement with stretching. Don’t worry about adding more weight and bringing a yoga mat. A simple camp towel does the trick, or a foam mattress pad that you use for sleeping. Practicing basic, beginning yoga flows at home before heading out on the trail will help you know what's best for your body.
Backpackers might find these stretches helpful, while mountain bikers or road cyclists would be more interested in yoga flows that include these. Paddlers may appreciate yoga flows that incorporate poses like this variety.
While professional massages are helpful when it comes to muscle recovery, they aren’t available while in the wilderness for days or months. However, performing self massage can help your muscles recover after a long day. Hikers can enjoy a foot massage at the end of the day by using their thumbs and fingers to work out any sore spots in your feet. Go easy, your feet may be a little tender after carrying you and your belongings for the day. Bikers might enjoy a fist or forearm into the quads, and paddlers can use their knuckles to massage their arms.
Your equipment can also be used to help you reach places that would otherwise be challenging by yourself. Trekking poles can be used like a rolling pin to roll over larger muscle groups like the quads and calves. A paddle can also be used similarly. The handle of a paddle can also be used to massage sore hands.
If you’re comfortable adding a few ounces, throw in a massage ball or lacrosse ball to use to roll over your shoulders and back. These lightweight, firm balls can even massage the feet and calves for a little extra love.
Teas & Hydration
To further help your muscles recover from strenuous activities like backpacking, paddling, or riding, drinking enough fluids is crucial. Water helps the body repair muscles as well as flush out lactic acid that builds up during exercise. If you have plenty of access to water and natural fuel, consider boiling water as you go to save pounds. Littlbug’s ultralight backpacking wood burning stove, the Junior stove, boils water in little as four minutes, which means you’re also saving time.
Various herbal and green teas help your muscles recover and keep your body healthy and strong for your adventures. End your day with a hot cup of herbal tea. We suggest blends that include turmeric or ginger, or a combination, which are both known to help reduce inflammation. Ginger also helps with digestion to keep you regular while on the trail. Lavender is a calming herb and can help you relax in the evening to improve your night’s sleep.
To start your day, substitute your coffee with green tea, which is also known for its anti-inflammatory characteristics as well as helping your body flush excess toxins and lactic acid, both of which increase muscle soreness and stiffness. Green tea also has naturally occurring caffeine levels similar to coffee to help kick start your day.
Now that you know how to practice self care on the trail, get out and enjoy the wilderness.
Remember: When it comes to outdoor skills the more you bring along, the less you have to carry. Skills don't break and they're never left behind. They don’t leak, tear, and they don’t get wet!