We all know that hiking is a great full-body workout, but did you know what are hikers legs? Let’s find out.
Many benefits of hiking have been well documented, but hiking is especially good for developing leg muscles.
Hikers legs or trail legs can be earned by those hiking enthusiasts who tend to go on hiking trips that span multiple days. To develop hikers legs a person must hike regularly for at least three months.
We have met many avid hikers who swear by the positive benefits of hiking on a regular basis, especially hikers legs. Here, you are going to find out all there is to know about hikers legs and how you can get yours.
As outdoor enthusiasts, we can provide you with all of the information you need regarding hikers legs and how you can get them.
What are Hikers Legs?
Have you ever heard hikers refer to themselves as "getting their trail legs" or "hiking legs"? After increasing my hiking mileage, I quickly realized what it meant. After my first long-distance trek, my legs/feet were utterly lifeless, and my feet were covered in blisters.
Once you start hiking, it doesn't take long to acquire your trail legs. Over the first several weeks on the path, most individuals may improve their hiking legs. Surprisingly, this is also the time of year when the majority of trekking injuries occur.
Neuromuscular adaptation is the term for the process of improving your hiking legs. More on neuromuscular adaptation in the next section, but it's how your body copes with the increased stress of trekking. Because building muscle takes time, your body stimulates nerve cells in your legs to gain greater strength from the muscles it currently has.
As a result, you'll be able to completely utilize the muscles in your legs to trek for longer periods of time without being sore. The ability to trek further has both positive and negative implications. You may not be hurting, but you lack the muscle fibers necessary to preserve your ligaments.
What is Neuromuscular Adaptation?
Neuromuscular adaptation plays a big role in developing your hiker’s legs. The name of the game is neuromuscular adaptation. This word refers to the nerves that connect your spinal cord to your muscles. The muscle contracts when a signal is transmitted from the brain down the spinal cord and down the nerve.
Your body will only keep as many nerve/muscle connections as it requires for your current level of activity. In terms of energy utilization, the human body is incredibly efficient. Building and maintaining muscle takes a lot of energy. If you aren't using all of the muscle that your body has primed and ready for action, your body will conserve energy by reducing nerve activity in the muscle that isn't being used.
During the first several weeks on the route, the neuromuscular adaptation process takes place. It also happens to be the time of year when the majority of trail injuries occur - more on that later. With more physical activity (such as daily hiking), the body will "un-mute" the neurons to turn on the muscle you currently have. During the first month of hiking, you don't grow stronger in the usual sense (or working out).
You've improved muscular efficiency by activating additional muscle fibers that weren't previously used. If the circumstances are ideal (regular caloric intake and physical stresses such as exercise), your body will begin to develop muscle to fulfill the demands of having to hike uphill. For the most part, this occurs between weeks 4 and 8.
This timescale has been shown to be closer to 8-12 weeks in some studies, and probably longer in others. Age, diet, sleep, training history, and any other health concerns are all aspects to consider. Returning to the injury issue from the first several weeks. If you begin your journey with strong, efficient muscles, you will better avoid frequent hiker ailments.
This is something you'll want to keep in mind throughout the route, but especially at the beginning, you'll have a lot of aching muscles, which can lead to bad sleep and slow down your recovery. Injuries frequently sideline hikers for weeks or months while their bodies try to recover. Unfortunately, typical hiker injuries occur at this time.
Many hikers abandon their ambition of completing the trail and return home during this period. Take the time to adequately train your legs before hitting the trail if you're starting out with weak legs. It will make your travel far less difficult and frustrating.
About THE AUTHOR
I’m a hiker, backpacker, and general outdoor enthusiast. I started hiking out of college while working for the National Forest Service, and have been hiking ever since. I’ve been solo hiking and leading hiking groups for two decades and have completed hundreds of small hikes and some majorones such as the Appalachian Train and the Pacific Crest Trail, and hiked on four continents. I’d love to share some of my insight with you.Read More About Peter Brooks