Jo Cordell-Cooper*

As a mad keen hiker, I am always looking forward to hiking somewhere.

Whether this is a daylong or multi-day hike, I have learned through experience, not to neglect calf strength.

Many times, I have seen hikers sitting on the side of a track stretching out their calves that have become tight and sore, threatening to tear.

When the calves are very tight our gait starts to change and we are more likely to have sore knees and hips, or perhaps roll an ankle.

If this sounds like you, it is good advice to stop and stretch, but ultimately wouldn’t it be better to head out with strong calves and avoid this problem altogether?

Our calves are the muscle at the rear of the lower leg, and they help us get up hills.

Calves and the other muscles around the shins and ankles all work together to stabilise the ankles.

Let’s think about what the ankle does when we hike up hills – they push through our toes repeatedly.

Descent is the opposite.

Try these exercises three to four times a week in the lead up to any walk.

Your hikes will be so much more enjoyable if you are fit for it.

Here is a four-week calf strengthening program (added to your everyday walk or workout):

Week one – straight knee calf raises

Start with both feet on the ground near a wall to hold on to.

Raise your heels and go onto your toes as high as you can.

Ensure that you’re keeping your weight over all toes evenly and your knees straight.

Slowly lower back down to the ground.

Repeat until you feel it – for some this is 10-20 repetitions, for seasoned walkers it is more.

Please note you should feel this enough to ultimately get muscle growth, but do not overdo it either.

You should not end up overly sore.

Week two

Once you can do 50 slow and steady calf raises add weight to a pack – five to seven kilograms is fine for day walkers (more for multi day walkers).

Repeat this same exercise every second day.

Week three

Once you feel strong and confident doing this, try the straight knee calf raise with your feet on a step.

Raise onto your toes and then lower the heels below the step.

You should be near a wall or rail so you can hold on.

Week four

Once you can lift and lower with control and confidence, add the weighted pack again.

Of course, calf strength is only one aspect of hiking fitness, but I think it is worthy of some special attention as no one wants the trip ruined by calf pain or injury.

If you’d like to download my free hiking fitness resources, visit www.jocc.com.au/hiking.

*Jo Cordell-Cooper runs the award winning business Jo CC Holistic PT and helping you get fit for hiking is just one way to work with her.  Jo can be contacted on 0409 862 206 or via email at jo@jocc.com.au, website is jocc.com.au.

Enjoy this story? Share it!

About the Author: Hobart Observer

The Hobart Observer is your monthly community newspaper, reaching over 24,000 homes and businesses in and around the City of Hobart. It is the product of Nicolas Turner, Justine Brazil, Ben Hope, Simon Andrews, Tobias Hinds and guest contributors, with support from advertisers.

What’s new?

Go to Top