The Body Mechanics of Hiking: How to Optimize Your Walk in the Woods

When I started training to hike Mount Whitney, I enlisted Judith to help me optimize my hiking stride. This was no "walk in the park:" Whitney is the tallest peak in the contiguous United States at a staggering 14,505'. We would start at 8,000' with 40 lbs. of gear on our backs. Although I'm an avid hiker and live at 6,235', I knew my body would need all the help it could get, especially my knees and hips.

One thing about hiking is that you have to keep pressing on, no matter what. When it comes to your body breaking down, you have to find a way to keep going without injuring yourself. Our training hikes would take all day and up to 20 miles. Around 8 miles, I'd start to feel soreness in my left hip and right knee. In talking this out with Judith during a coaching session, she suggested a few tips to slightly alter my gait. These tips were simple things to think about, but changed everything. The next training hike, when I started to feel sore, I managed to employ her strategies and my stride no longer taxed my joints. My husband had a similar sore hip and when I passed along a few strategies that I had learned, he felt instant relief.

The Summit of Mount Whitney at 14,505', July 4th, 2016

The Summit of Mount Whitney at 14,505', July 4th, 2016

Hiking Mount Whitney was one of the greatest couple of days I can remember, but I don't think I would've been as successful if I didn't have these hiking tips with me. With these simple techniques that Judith has put together, I can hike longer with less recovery time than I used to need. It's really just about being able to adjust your movement when it's not optimal or causing you premature fatigue or unneeded pain. Learn these simple movements so you can enjoy more vistas, climb more summits and hike more mountains!

Judith Aston explains how to optimize outdoor movement, from a short walk in the woods to a long thru hike.