In Short: How do sore muscles actually develop?
Thanks to our calves we can walk, run and jump. They are essential elements of the movement process and particularly important muscle groups for hiking. The feet and calves are particularly stressed on extensive hiking and trekking tours. A total of 1700 nerve cells and over 90 000 sweat glands help the hard-working feet to regulate their temperature. In case of intensive exertion, small tears can form in the so-called Z-discs in the muscle tissue. The inflammation caused by these small tears causes the muscle to swell due to the ingress of water. After 12 to 24 hours, the body begins to flush out these small injuries in the muscle and the inflammatory substances that have built up in them. The sore muscles show their full effect. But what can you do to prevent it from becoming painful in the first place?
The right level of difficulty
First of all, every motivated hiker should be aware that the journey is the reward and that a good level of fitness is the basis for an enjoyable and longer hiking holiday. It is therefore important to assess yourself correctly and not to overdo it.
Our Eurohike hiking holidays are assigned so-called levels of hiking. From moderate walking, walking, mountain hiking to trekking, there is the right active tour for every level of fitness and stamina.
Suitable sport- or hiking shoes
The right shoes for sports or hiking are particularly important. Especially for longer hiking tours or hiking holidays lasting several days, you should choose hiking boots that you have already worn and that fit perfectly. Now hiking shoes should definitely be tried out beforehand and you should always have tested and worn them in on one or the other hike.
On our HikingBlog you can find even more details and recommendations for the right hiking boots.
Active all year round
It is particularly recommended to constantly pay attention to sustainable exercise and stretching throughout the year. Regardless of the wind and weather or the season, take time for a short sport or workout session, maybe cycle to work, or take the stairs instead of the elevator. Your body will thank you and you will enjoy feeling good and fit all year round. Regularity with exercise is the best prerequisite for a successful start to the next hiking season.
Find out more information about our year-round hiking holidays on the HikingBlog.
Stretching on a regular basis – even in everyday life – is particularly important in order to practice sport sustainably and without injury. The muscles are stretched, the blood flow is stimulated and oxygen can be transported. Extensive stretching before and after every hike or sports session with a focus on the previously used muscle groups stimulates the nervous system and prevents tension and sore muscles. A fascia roller or a trigger point ball also help to relax hardened muscles and to roll out tense areas. Just stay on the painful spot for 30 seconds – the feeling afterwards is really good. Our tip: Even if you have sore muscles, loose movement will ensure that the tension is relieved from the muscles and the pain subsides more quickly.
Foods rich in magnesium
Muscle tension can also be prevented with the right balanced diet. The correct mix of magnesium and calcium is particularly important for our muscles. The human organism cannot produce these minerals independently, but needs them every day. Many foods contain magnesium, such as bananas, nuts and seeds, oatmeal, lentils, parmesan, spinach, broccoli or wholemeal bread. Calcium-rich foods include cow’s milk, yogurt, cheese and green vegetables. However, we recommend that you clarify a possible magnesium deficiency with a blood test directly with your general practitioner.
You can find tips and recipes for power drinks for hiking on our HikingBlog.
Wrap cool, damp towels around your calves after your hike or intensive workout session. The opportunity to do this is ideal, especially at night or during a rest phase. Cold gel packs from the fridge also help. Please never put the ice pack on bare skin. Be sure to wrap them in a cloth beforehand. Even a short dip in cold water has a regenerating effect on our body. Cold therapy can be used even more intensively in the form of whole-body cryotherapy. To do this, you stand in the cold chamber for three minutes at -110 degrees Celsius, which not only ensures better sleep and better blood circulation, but also helps to optimise muscle metabolism, relieves pain and reduces the stress hormone level in the blood.
Good circulation & foot baths
Putting your feet up can work wonders. Take about 20 minutes and put your feet up – ideally against a wall. This stimulates blood circulation and relieves pain and swelling. A relaxing bath with Epsom salts not only improves blood circulation, but also provides a wonderful break for body and mind. A lukewarm foot bath with alcaline additives, or lavender, eucalyptus or rosemary oil are particularly beneficial, relieve pain and stimulate blood circulation. These tips are especially helpful in the warmer season.
- You can find out what else to consider when hiking in summer on our Eurohike HikingBlog.
Skin care and creams
Feet that do a lot of sport and hiking also need appropriate care. Applying lotion regularly, especially with special foot creams, prevents the feet from drying our and the skin from becoming rough and cracked. Calluses should be carefully removed with a pumice stone or callus sponge every time you take a shower. It is also important to take care of your nails. For extenisve hiking tours, short nails are recommended to avoid unnecessary pressure points in the shoe. Our tip: Having a blister plaster in your hiking backpack is a good idea just in case. No plaster at hand? Try to relieve the pressure with a cold compress. Simply soak a towel in ice-cold water and the pain will be relieved in no time.