Post Walk
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There’s no better way to reset your mind and body than getting out for a good long walk in nature. Walking is a great exercise with fantastic physical and mental health benefits whether you are hiking the hilly South Downs or strolling on a windswept beach in Northumberland.

The other great benefit of walking is the opportunity it offers to explore new and unfamiliar parts of the UK. Some walking routes, however, are more challenging than others and can leave you with sore muscles and tired feet. Therefore, it’s important to be prepared, rest mid-walk and pamper yourself afterwards. This article delves into tips for avoiding issues and some well-deserved treats for winding down after your next long walk.

Pick the Right Walk for You

As the saying goes “Being forewarned means being forearmed” and so be prepared if you are planning a long walk, especially if it’s a bit tougher than one you might usually sign up for. It is better to pick the right route for your walking ability, look for accessible wheelchair routes if needed and be aware of your own fitness. Biting off more than you can chew with an overly strenuous hike can lead to injuries, burnout, and a generally miserable experience.

Although the health benefits and physical merits of walking as an exercise are well documented, it’s still sensible to know your limits and not harm yourself from walking too much. Be honest with yourself about your abilities and start with walks that are well within your capabilities. Gradually increase the length and difficulty as you build up your endurance; there are plenty of different walking routes to help you plan the most appropriate walk for your experience.

Be Prepared for all Weather and Walking Conditions

Once you’ve selected your walk, make sure you have the right gear and clothing to stay comfortable and safe on the journey. While the NHS advocates walking briskly for good health, it recommends wearing a comfy pair of shoes and socks to avoid blisters. In addition, on longer walks, it’s a good idea to pack spare clothes, sunscreen, a sun hat and waterproofs. Being ill-prepared for the changeable UK weather can leave you soaked, freezing, or overheated, possibly putting a damper on your ability to enjoy the walk and recover afterwards.

Post Walk
Image source: Deposit photos

Research typical conditions for the area and pack layers you can add or remove as needed. Invest in quality waterproof jackets and footwear to stay dry. Don’t forget sun protection like hats and sunscreen if the skies are clear. Having the proper gear goes a long way in letting you focus on the walk rather than battling the elements.

Treat Sore Feet, Stiff Muscles and Aching Joints

No matter how seasoned a walker you are or the amount of research you’ve done to protect your feet, long distances can take a toll on your feet, toes, ankles and legs. Treat your feet to some serious pampering after a tough route or a tricky walk on a pebbly beach. This could be anything from finding a refreshing swim spot to cool off in, rehydrating with your favourite sports drink or relaxing in a hot tub to soothe any aches and pains.

Whatever treat you prefer, start by giving your feet a good soak in warm water or a hot bath with epsom salts to relieve stiff joints. You can find foot spas and baths specifically designed for this, or simply use a basin or bucket. Consider following up with moisturising foot creams containing ingredients, including shea butter, vitamin E, and peppermint to hydrate and soothe. You can also buy specific products for overworked feet and massage any problem areas or use a pumice stone to work away dead skin.

Spoil Yourself with a Well-Earnt Spa Experience

For the ultimate in post-walk indulgence, book yourself a session at a spa or wellness centre that has a wealth of pampering facilities, including a sauna, steam rooms, jacuzzi, and swimming pool. There’s no better way to soothe aches and pains while relaxing in any pool of water. Moreover, warmer water provides welcome relief for sore muscles while the jets work out any lingering knots and tension.

Post Walk
Image source: Deposit photos

An invigorating stint in a sauna can do wonders after a long walk. Sitting in a sauna not only helps relax your muscles and relieve muscle pain, the heat increases blood flow, which speeds up the recovery process and reduces stiffness. If your walk was coastal, there are some fantastic pop-up saunas on beaches.

Cool Off with a Cold Dip

After working up a sweat on a summer walk or long trek, there’s nothing more refreshing than taking a dip to cool down. Cold water therapy is known to soothe muscles and the health benefits of ice baths are well publicised for post-exercise recovery.

If you like swimming outside, there are some great outdoor swim spots to discover. You might have already planned a walk near the sea, in which case, you can rejuvenate with a quick dip. Wherever you swim, however, be aware of currents and depths for your safety and avoid swimming on your own.

Prioritise Rest, Recovery and Recharge Your Batteries

While pampering activities are a luxurious way to wind down post-walk, nothing beats simple rest and refuelling with lots of water and eating well. In this way, you can replace any fluids and electrolytes lost through sweat and exertion in a healthy way. If you’re recharging following an especially challenging and long walk, make sure you fill up on protein, whole grains, fruits and veggies to repair muscles and replenish your energy levels. Natural anti-inflammatory foods can reduce soreness following long walks, so devise meal plans based around fatty fish, berries and leafy greens. If your dog is a regular companion on long walks too, it’s key to understand that just like humans, your furry friend can experience joint pain and mobility issues. So be mindful of optimising their diet in line with their walkies as well.

Most importantly, put your feet up and allow your body to fully recover between challenging walks. One key health benefit of walking is improved sleep; ensuring regular and adequate rest will help prevent injuries and promote healing if you’ve strained any muscles.

Whether you want to walk in a local beauty spot or venture off the beaten track, the more you do and the longer you walk for, the greater the benefits. With a healthy mix of pre-walk preparation and post-walk recovery, you’ll soon be ready to get back out on your next big walk. Order a copy of ‘Walk Yourself Happy’ today.

Blog Author: Annie Button