Hip soreness during and after a long day backpacking can be a real bummer! But it’s actually very common for backpackers to get sore hips. When we’re carrying our camping gear & food weight around for mile after mile in our backpacks, it puts a ton of stress on our hips.
With a heavy pack, the weight's got to go somewhere. In the process of trying to save our shoulders, we might be passing on the problem to our hips. Our hips, more than our shoulders, are designed to carry weight. But sometimes after long days, even our hips get tired, achy, and sore.
I've been personally having problems with sore hips after long backpacking days, so I mentioned the issue to my friend & Physical Therapist Shasta Hood. He suggested thinking about it as an IT band issue. When we tighten our backpack's hip belt, we're also pressing at the area that the IT band moves through. This can effectively shorten the IT band, which causes that tight, sore sensation.
My last backpacking trip was three weeks in the Western Brooks Range, and I knew my hips would be sore. So while I was in the backcountry, I tried some of my favorite IT band exercises. Keep in mind that while we might call them “stretches”, we don't want to actually stretch connective tissue like the IT band, but instead allow it to move freely.
I did these exercises when the sore hips started to kick in. And they worked like magic! Instead of having a hard time getting comfortable enough to sleep due to my achy hips, a quick stretching (and hydration) session relieved the pain completely.
I was psyched, and excited to share my success story with you. In this video I'll show the two IT band stretches that worked for me in the backcountry. I hope you try them, and let me know if they worked for you!
For a deeper dive on sore hips, check out this post where we walk you through what you can do before your adventures to prevent sore hips through strength training.
If you deal with soreness in other body areas, there are tricks to help you stay mobile while you’re out in the wild. We made this video showing a sequence of exercises that will help your spine, hips, knees, and ankles feel their best. You can do most of these exercises at camp before you get going, or in bed at home when you need a little self care.
Making time for regular strength training sessions can revolutionize your time in the backcountry. You’d be surprised at how much strength and injury prevention you can gain from short workouts you can do in your living room. That’s why we created our online fitness programs specifically for backcountry adventurers. Explore our programs and try a sample workout right here.
[Updated January 2023]
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