Tips & tricks: Post-hiking Muscle Care

My friends at Flintridge Family Chiropractic have hosted some great local hikes on Sunday mornings this summer. The last hike was a great experience for me. We climbed Echo Mountain in Altadena. As often happens, the day of the hike and the next day I was not sore at all. The second day after the hike I was really feeling it: shin splints. This is a common term you may have heard before. It’s basically soreness in the tibialis anterior muscles. Here’s an easy trick to help decrease that soreness after a hike or another type of exertion that stresses these muscles.

Step 1: Fill some dixie cups with water half full and stick them in the freezer. I should have cropped this photo so you wouldn’t see the Snickers Ice Cream bars. My husband bought them, I swear.

I have dixie cups at the office if you want some next time you come in. I’m happy to share.

Step 2: Peel down the edges of the cup. You’ll rub the ice on the muscle. Having the paper surrounding the ice makes it easier to handle. Your leg muscle gets iced but your hand doesn’t.

One of my clients graciously agreed to model for me. Nothing like getting iced down before a massage, eh?

Step 3: Rub the ice along the muscle for a few minutes, until it’s numb or until you can’t stand it any more. The tibialis anterior muscle is the muscle on the side of the shin bone on the lower leg. This muscle gets a work-out on an uphill/downhill hike. Other activities that might strain this muscle include running, jumping and dancing to name a few. One of the reasons this muscle can get so sore is that it’s trapped between the 2 lower leg bones. When we work it hard and it produces metabolic waste products, the waste products have a harder time exiting the muscle post-work-out because of the limited space around the muscle. Icing the muscle down (even before you experience soreness) can help decrease any inflammation that has occurred in your work-out and speed your recovery. Try it after your next hike!

Step 4: You can include some self massage also. Try using the backs of your knuckles. Run them up and down the muscle, creating some heat/friction. You can also press your thumb into the muscle along the length of it. These simple strokes can help flush the metabolic wastes out of the muscle. By the way, the next hike is at Sturtevant Falls Sunday, September 9 at 8 am. Click on the link above to get all the details. I’m hoping to be there myself.