Being out in nature is a wonderful way to enjoy fresh air while staying active during pregnancy.
Hiking is one way to be in nature.
We are moving into my favorite time of year for hiking, the weather cools off, the streams and rivers still feel refreshing, the leaves start to turn to vibrate reds, oranges and yellows and warm teas are so much more enjoyable.
After camping over the weekend, my daughter went to my brother's for the week to visit more with her cousins and my husband and I decided to go for a hike. We chose our hike without much thought and as we were hiking we discovered the hike was more vertical than expected.
I want you to learn from my hike that day.
Avoid hiking above 6,500 feet above sea level.
In higher altitudes oxygen levels drop. During pregnancy the demand for oxygen increases, to accommodate this we breath more and our blood volume increases to get the available oxygen in our blood to the fetus, our organs and muscles.
When there is less oxygen in the air it is more challenging for our body to get enough, which puts mom and baby at risk.
To avoid this risk, pick hikes that are below 6,500 feet.
This is easily done on the east coast, but for those who live in or near the Rockies, consider this you're body could already be used to the elevation, so chat with your provider if you are an avid hiker to see if you can continue hiking at higher altitudes.
Don't hike anything more intense than what you were regularly hiking pre-pregnancy.
So if you were an avid hiker prior to being pregnant and were hiking 10 miles hikes, baring no medical complications you can keep hiking 10 mile trails.
Don't get discouraged though, if you have never hiked before, there are plenty of level trails with beautiful views all over the country. Instead of walking around your neighborhood you can take a stroll along a dirt, pine needle and leaf padded trail.....because psst this is a hike!
Research the trail prior to starting and make sure you know what you are getting into.
Warm up and cool down.
Just like any workout, warming up your muscles with dynamic stretching, reduces risk of injury.
It tells your muscles and joints "get ready to move."
It makes it easier for your joints to bend and your muscles to stretch and contract.
Then once you finished your hike, cooling down your muscles with some stretches will help reduce soreness.
Target the following muscle groups...
....quadriceps, hamstrings, hip flexors, glutes, shins and calves.
Use MINDFUL MOVEMENT
Our joints are more susceptible to injury during pregnancy because of the relaxin that prepares our bodies for birth.
What this means is we need to take care of them with proper modifications, muscle control and support.
Hiking trails can be strewn with roots, branches, rocks and uneven terrain.
So pay attention to where you are placing your feet, use your whole foot, and keep a bend in your knees.
Use hiking poles to soften the descent and reduce the strain on your legs.
No matter your ability...take breaks!
Lastly, this should really go without saying, but bring more water than you think you should and plenty of snacks.
Go enjoy the great outdoors!