These Yoga-Based Stretches Can Help Loosen You Up For Your Next Hike

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Of my favorite fall activities, hiking comes close to reigning supreme. Perhaps it's the fact I love a true full-body exercise, or perhaps it's that I love those scenic views and fantastic gear, but no matter which way you slice it, hiking is simply one of my favorite ways to enjoy fall.

As much as I love a good long hike, I alway feel sore the next day. Everything from my calves to my neck aches after logging all those uphill miles. Because I know the first step to combating soreness is to incorporate stretching, I turned to New York-based yoga instructor Tess Koenig to help get me on track.

For anyone like me who is tossing on that all-weather ColdGear® Infrared Shield Jacket ($100), lacing up those boots, and heading out on the trail, try these three stretches to loosen up first.

For the whole body from shoulders to chest, back, and legs: Side Bend Stretch

  1. Stand on your knees with hips stacked right on top.
  2. Extend your right leg out to the side, keeping your toes pointing forward and focus on grounding down the outer edge of your right foot.
  3. Inhale to reach both arms overhead. Exhale to bend to the right over your leg, allowing the right hand to slide toward your foot and the left arm to reach over your ear with palm facing down. Look under your left armpit.
  4. Hold for five to 10 breaths once you feel the stretch in your left side torso and right leg.
  5. Switch sides and repeat.

For easing tension in the lower back, inner thighs, and overworked hips: Figure Four Down Dog

  1. Start on hands and knees on the ground, shoulders stacked over wrists and knees stacked under hips.
  2. Walk your hands one hand print in front of where they are now.
  3. Lift your knees and send hips up and back to downward facing dog.
  4. Cross your right ankle over your left thigh just above the knee and keep your right foot flexed.
  5. Press into your palms, reaching your hips up and back and pressing your right knee away from you until you feel a stretch in your outer hip. Hold for five deep breaths.
  6. Switch sides and repeat.

For opening your hips and boosting inner thigh flexibility: Bound Ankle Pose, aka Butterfly Stretch

  1. Sit on the ground with your knees wide and the soles of your feet connected in front of your groin. If there's any pain in the knees, slide your feet further away from you, keeping the integrity of the diamond shape.
  2. Grasp the outer edges of your feet with hands and sit tall.
  3. Inhale, lengthening your spine while shoulders stack over hips.
  4. Exhale to slowly reach forward, hinging at your hips until you feel a stretch in your outer hips and inner thighs.
  5. Stay here for five to 10 breaths, keeping a long spine in mind so as not to round.