During hiking, the variety of terrain and elevation can cause increased stress to the body. The following exercises target proper movement and strength for preventing pain and improving hiking performance.
Step-Down / Single Leg Squat:
Stand with left leg on step or stair, and right leg hovering off to side. Lower in a single leg squat to lightly tap hovering heel on ground. Slowly return to full upright position by squeezing buttocks.
It is important to maintain good position of the knee in this exercise. Track knee directly over foot; avoid knee falling inward or going beyond toes. (See squat technique picture.) If it is too difficult to tap the ground, simply go as far as you can with good control and comfort.
Perform 3 sets of 10 per leg.
Lay on back with both knees bent and feet flat on ground. Squeeze buttocks to raise pelvis off table. Come up as high as possible without causing arch in low back. Return to start by coming down one vertebrae at a time.
Perform 3 sets of 10.
Alternatives: Hold one leg off ground as you raise up into the bridge position. Maintain level hips (do not let one side dip down). You can also perform a bridge with feet on an exercise ball for stability challenge.
UPPER CALF: Lean on a countertop or wall for support. With back leg straight, keep the heel on the ground and lean forward until a tight stretch is felt. Hold for 30 sec. Repeat 2x per leg.
LOWER CALF: With back leg bent at the knee, keep the heel on the ground and lean forward until a tight stretch is felt. Hold for 30 sec. Repeat 2x per leg.