Walking the Camino de Santiago is one of the most rewarding journeys you’ll ever take, but it can be strenuous, too. Even if you train in advance, it’s hard to fully prepare your body for days of walking. However, by taking a few measures to reduce soreness and tightness, you can help prevent more serious injuries, as well.
Staying well-nourished and well-hydrated are the first steps: when you have more energy, you’re more alert and more likely to maintain proper walking form. When fatigued, people tend to shuffle their feet or slouch. Drinking plenty of water and adding a banana to your breakfast can help you reduce muscle soreness.
It’s also a good idea to take a few minutes to stretch at various times throughout the day. Not only will this keep your muscles happier and healthier, it will make for a more enjoyable experience. Here are a few stretches to incorporate into your routine. Try to hold each one for at least 30 seconds.
Simple Stretches for Camino:
From a seated or standing position, keep your shoulders relaxed and turn your head to one side. Gently nod in that direction, bringing your chin toward your collar bone. Nod like this from side to side several times.
Take one arm across your chest, and bring the other arm in front of it to hold it in place and deepen the stretch by gently pressing the straight arm closer to your body. Keep your shoulders low.
This is great for your spine and the entire side of your body. From a seated or standing position, bring one arm above the head and place the other hand on your hip. Inhale as you reach high, and exhale as you lean toward your bent arm.
Take a big step so one foot is in front of the other. Take care that the toes on your back foot are pointed directly forward. Gently bend your front knee as you press the back heel into the ground to feel a stretch in the lower part of the back leg.
With your feet about hip-width apart, fold forward over your legs, keeping your spine long. Relax your head and shoulders. Let your knees bend a little, then slowly straighten them to deepen the stretch down the backs of your legs.
Quad and Hip Flexor Stretch
Come into a lunge position with the back knee on the ground. Gently bring your hips forward and down until you feel the stretch along the front of your back leg. Move your front foot forward a little if necessary to keep that front knee on top of the front ankle.
Lie on your back and cross one ankle over your other knee. Keeping your feet flexed, draw your legs toward your chest until you feel a stretch in your hip.
The legs are doing a lot of work on the Camino de Santiago, but your back may get stiff and sore, as well, from being in the same position all day or carrying a pack. Lie on your back and bend your knees. Lower both knees down to the ground on the same side. Look up or toward the opposite arm stretched out to the side.
Cat Stretch for Your Back
Come to your hands and knees. Inhale as you arch your back, and exhale as you round your back. Repeat several times.
Find a tree, a fence, or anything else, and lie down in front of it. Bring your legs straight up to rest on the structure. Lie there for a few minutes. You might like to circle your feet a few times in both directions while you’re there. This position can boost energy and relieve low back pain, plus it’s restful and relaxing.
Here are a few more quick tips for preventing and treating injuries during your journey on the Camino de Santiago:
- Carry a first aid kit. Bandages and ointment are the most likely to be needed.
- Have your backpack properly fitted. Practice walking with your full pack before your trip. Adventure Camino offers luggage transfers every day so you can get a break from carrying it!
- Rest when you need it. Whether you’re tired or you’re noticing some pain or discomfort, there’s no need to push yourself through it. Rest for awhile or even stop for the day. If the pain goes beyond mere discomfort to the point where you think you may have an injury, get medical attention. This is rare, but if it happens to you, you’ll want to address it immediately so you know you’re safe to continue the journey.
Rest assured that the Camino will be a great journey for you, but it’s not uncommon for walkers to experience soreness and tightness. Making these stretches a part of your journey, along with a few extra precautions, will make the path safer and more enjoyable. With Adventure Camino, you have the benefit of 24-hour phone support in case of an emergency, along with hot showers and comfortable beds so you can rest and recharge every night. Contact us for more information about your journey on the Camino de Santiago.