5 After-Hike Mistakes You Might Be Making


After soaking in the view from your hike, you descent from the hill/mountain and immediately head into your car to get food or go home. Then, you head to a fast food place or a nearby mamak and start bingeing on nasi lemak because you feel like deserve it after all that hard work. You probably don’t realise that your body is not ready for the car journey and food shoving yet. Just kicking back and relaxing will just prep you for a few days of muscle-aching hell.

Avoid making these mistakes if you want to help your muscles recover quickly:

1. Sitting for a long period and ignoring the cool down exercises

Sitting for long periods is bad for your health especially after a strenuous hike because your heart will still be pumping fast from the descent. Sitting down will decrease the blood circulation to your legs. Once there is less circulation, your legs will become more swollen because the fluids from your legs will have difficulty pumping back to your heart.

cool down stretches
Source: cheerleadinginfocenter.typepad.com

What to do instead:

Do a series of cool down exercises for 5- 10 minutes to slowly bring your heart rate and blood pressure down while stretching out those tense muscles. Take slow, deep stretches such as this Straddle stretch which targets your hamstrings, inner thigh, hip, and lower back muscles

[More post hike stretches here]

  1. Stand with feet slightly wider than shoulder width and slowly bend forward at the waist with straight legs. Keep your knees soft, don’t lock it.
  2. Hold your elbows with your hands and bend your head in between your legs.
  3. Once your hamstrings and back relax, shift your weight over to your left side, try reaching your hands toward your shin or toes, bending at the hips so tilt it to the back a bit and stretching the chest toward the thigh. Hold 30 seconds. Repeat on the right side.
  4. To complete the stretch, move your body back to center, place both hands on your thighs, bend your knees slightly, and slowly and smoothly roll up through your spine one vertebrae at a time, exhaling as your body is straight up.

2. Not drinking enough water

We live in a hot and humid country so you tend to sweat more than usual during your hike.

What to do instead:

Drink small sips of water every 20 minutes of your tough hike. Hydrate your body with water and some sports drinks to recover the fluids you lost during your hike.

3. Eating too much of the wrong food

after hike recovery food

You tend to overeat after your hike because of course you’re super hungry. However, you won’t want to gain back the calories that you have worked so hard to burn during the hike so try to control yourself from eating too much.

What to do instead:

It is recommended to refuel your body with food that contains high quality protein, complex carbs and water within 1 hour after your hike to help your body to refuel [2].

Foods such as low-fat chocolate milk, eggs, greek yogurt, fresh fruits and vegetables are great because they won’t make you get into a post-hike food coma. Chocolate milk provides amino acids which helps your muscles to recover faster while eggs give you a good dose of protein [3].

4. Ignoring your aching muscles

foam roller and golf ball massage
Source: www.makethechanges.com, bellapodologia.com.br

Instead of waiting around for your muscles to get better, why not go for a massage to soothe out those kinks in your body?

What to do instead:

  • Massage with a foam roller. Since you know which parts of your body is feeling a little tight after that hike, you can use the foam roller and roll on those spots until you feel better.
  • Massage with a golf ball or a tennis ball. Put some pressure on the ball and roll back and forth until your foot feels better then switch sides!
epsom salt foot soak
Source: yourspiritsparkle.com
  • Soak in an Epsom salt bath. Stand under a cold water shower for 10 minutes first before you immerse in the warm bath tub. Soaking your body in cold to hot water helps to quicken muscle recovery time [4].

If you don’t have a bathtub at home, you can still do a simple foot soak. Epsom salts are not only inexpensive, it can help to relieve your sore muscles, bruises, dry skin and improve your blood circulation [5]. You can soak in an Epsom salt bath 2-3 times a week whenever you need a pick-me-up. Epsom salts are available in pharmacies and health food stores.

Foot soak (To remove odour and soften your feet)

  • 1 half cup Epsom salt
  • A pail/ tub of warm water
  • A few drops of your favourite essential oil (May we suggest Peppermint?)
  1. Pour the Epsom salt and drop a few drops of essential oil into the tub of warm water and mix.
  2. Then let your feet soak for 30 minutes to an hour.

Bath soak (To cure body aches and soothe skin)

  • 2 cups Epsom salt (Add 1 more cup if your bathtub is bigger than the standard size)
  • A bathtub filled with warm water
  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 10-15 drops of your favourite essential oil (May we suggest Lavender?)
  1. Add in the Epsom salt and essential oil as you are halfway filling your tub with hot water then balancing the temperature with cold water until you get to your desired temperature.
  2. Soak for 12- 30 minutes.

5. Not getting enough rest before going for another hike

sleeping animals
Source: www.ireachild.us

Sleep is the best way to recover from exhaustion and for your body to repair itself. If you don’t get enough sleep before taking on another hike, you will not only be more tired but your coordination will be a little fuzzy which is not good when you are navigating the jungle.

Always go for hikes that are suitable for your fitness level and if you have pushed yourself to your limits then do some active recovery until you have fully recovered. It’s better to go slow and steady than go fast and suffer the consequences. Eating the right food and massaging your body will help you to recover faster too!

If your body is still in pain after a week, seek professional help before your injuries get worse.


Do you have any hike recovery tips? Share with us here or on our Facebook page!

Sources: Mallorca HikingWellness Mama, Mountain Walk, Spry Living, Hiking Dude, Emax Health, Trail Sherpa, Hi-Tec, Livestrong, Outside

1 thought on “5 After-Hike Mistakes You Might Be Making”

  1. Richard Lim

    In general, I think these advice are more applicable to trail runners/racers than hikers…
    As a much older hiker, I have some what different experiences.
    1. My hikes are usually not that strenuous and usually will slow down the last few minutes before the end. Mind you, my exertions level do reach the beyond the anaerobic zone at times. Thus, I generally do not need a cool down routine. I do the cool down after a strenuous activity such as a 30+min jog though. But then again, I seldom do any significant warm-up routines before hikes either. My rule is to start & stop gradually! That takes care of warm up & cool down!
    2. Frequent drinking is a good idea. I recommend a hydration bladder as it makes sips convenient. My own rule of thumb is to take a sip every time I wipe sweat from my face, regardless of my thirst level.
    3. Not much comment on food as I simply eat whatever is available but try to steer clear of extra heavy/oily/spicy food before hikes.
    4. Yes, I would go for a massage or foot reflexology if time & location permits. But seriously, the muscles do not ache that bad once you are used to that level of exertion. They just feel a bit sore.
    5. I definitely endorse getting enough sleep before taking a strenuous day-hike! Been there! Once I had to just catch 30mins shut-eye on the trail in the afternoon just to re-charge enough to get back down (after abandoning the hike to the summit earlier!)

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