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When I go on for a multi-day hiking ( say, 7 or 8 days), my leg muscle will get painful in the middle of the hiking ( say, at the 4th day). Usually the muscle pain will take 5 days to heal, but I still have a lot more hiking days in front of me, so I can't take rest!

And neither I can do post-hike recovery like massage etc in the middle of sparse-populated mountain.

When going for a multi-day hiking, what I can do to recover from muscle pain, when and if I still have a lot of hiking days ahead of me?

migrated from sports.stackexchange.com Jun 27 '18 at 5:56

This question came from our site for participants in team and individual sport activities.

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    If the downvoter is from Outdoors, please comment as to why :) – Aravona Jun 27 '18 at 8:43
  • Where in your leg is the pain? @imsodin mentions prevention, but that could be more specific if you include exactly where the pain is. Also, can you tell if the pain is muscle, ligament, or joint? That should help in knowing how to address it. – Don Branson Jun 27 '18 at 11:59
  • Oh, sorry, you said, "muscle." Duh. :) I had re-read the question looking for that, but not the title. – Don Branson Jun 27 '18 at 12:05
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    @Aravona For what it's worth, votes don't carry across when a question is migrated so any up/down votes must be from this site. Full disclosure not that it I can see it matters here: I'm the Sports moderator who sent this one here. – Philip Kendall Jun 27 '18 at 18:26
  • @Sue Yes, comments (and any answers) come across. As moderators, we try and tidy up any superseded comments before sending it over but we don't always remember. But... this is getting a bit off-topic for this question. Happy to talk more in chat somewhere if you want to. – Philip Kendall Jun 27 '18 at 21:58
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First, lets talk briefly about the underlying issue, before addressing your specific question:
If you get serious muscle pain (taking 5 days to go away is serious), you should adjust your hiking. Apart from the general measures, like adjusting distances and trying to get weight off your pack, for longer hikes like this you also need to think about rest days. In youth mountaineering courses I was taught a concept that's mainly geared towards injury prevention which loosely translates to "mid-week-low". It is pretty well observable, that in the middle of a longer trip there is an over-proportional decrease in the general disposition on that day, which also increases injury risk on it. If you are doing an activity for more than 5 days, a rest day is very important. A rest day doesn't mean you need to sit around all day, doing nothing but lying in the sun and maybe some stretching (though there is nothing wrong with that either), but you need to give your body a longer time of lower exertion. Maybe just do a much shorter distance that day, walking slower, taking time for extended rests. It doesn't really matter what you do, as long as it is a lot less intensive (and you enjoy it).

Now that's all good and nice, but what do you do if you nevertheless are in the situation, where your muscles ache a lot. Sorry to disappoint, but once you are at this point, you likely wont get rid of the pain while continuing the hike. The only real remedy is rest. Massaging helps, either by yourself or from a potential hiking partner. If the aches are really bad, I personally don't stretch - it seems to make it worse. If you can shorten the distance, obviously adjust them down.

Again what's important is prevention on the go: If you feel pain developing while walking, take a rest (i.e. before it gets bad). Massage and lightly stretch the muscle. Important: We are not talking about flexibility training here - you neither need to stretch very hard nor for a prolonged time, listen to the feedback your body provides. Then you need to adjust pace. I know it's hard, especially if you have a set goal and/or hiking partners, that get slowed down. There is no point ignoring the problem and then potentially having to abort the hike entirely. If they don't have any problems and have reserves, maybe you can off-load some of your weight - that goes a long way. It might take a bit of guts to ask (if they didn't offer already), but there's really no shame in it. Maybe they are even relieved, because they hesitated to propose it themselves.

  • Yes, prevention. For me, that means stretching the calf muscles every hour or so during the hike, typically finding the right trail-side tree. There might be some analogous activity for the OP, depending on where the pain is. – Don Branson Jun 27 '18 at 11:56
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    +1. You're doing something wrong if you keep getting excessively sore midway through the trip. Even thru hikers doing 20-30 miles/day will take zero days occasionally to rest, get supplies, laundry, etc. You need to train better before hand. I haven't had any knee issues since I started doing that. – topshot Jun 27 '18 at 13:36
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I have had good experience with protein drinks (e.g. 80% whey protein powder) drunk in the evenings during multiple-day hikes. The next day, my legs would feel as good as new.

Still, prevention and rest days are just as important as written in imsodin's answer.

  • I'll refrain from expressing my reaction ad verbatim when reading this and seeing two upvotes (yes I then downvoted). I am not arguing against your experience, I once got rid of a nasty wart with homeopathy even though all I know says it shouldn't have done anything. However protein drinks will do nothing for your muscle regeneration on your hike. Sure, if without them you wouldn't eat enough, then it is beneficial, but proper food would be even better. It's even debatable in general whether you need additional protein for muscle growth, but muscle growth does not happen during the exertion... – imsodin Jun 27 '18 at 18:03

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