How to properly prepare your body before embarking on a hike?

At the starting line of the first edition of the Rose Trip Senegal walk, the runners exchange their training methods. Health professionals compile a list of tips to prepare for such an adventure.

In the Rose Trip trek, which opens its first edition in the Lompoul desert in Senegal, the participants walk about 20 kilometers a day, under high temperatures, on the sand, for 3 days. But before starting the adventure, they talk about their preparation: Anne Laure walked 17 kilometers in the sand every weekend, Sophie surveyed Lake Annecy to the max, Sara and her team did a 20-kilometre test walk in near-real conditions on the Dune. du Pilat. Some complement with yoga, others sessions in the gym… If each one has his method, How to prepare well for a walk of this type?

Some essentials before leaving

First of all, keep in mind that the Rose Trip is meant to be accessible, so you don’t have to be a professional walker or runner, or even a keen athlete. Having said that, you have to work the resistance, so it is essential to train walking for long periods of time. The organizers advise walks between 6 and 8 hours to get in shape, starting several weeks before the start of the adventure. The objective is to be able to find the rhythm that suits us best.

It is always helpful to get close to the conditions of the hike you are about to experience. If the weather conditions can be difficult to imitate (if you go to Senegal in April and live in France, there is little chance of the thermometer rising to 30 degrees before D-Day!), you can at least practice walking with a weight on your back (but not too much either), and go for a walk on the beach if you have to walk on sandy ground.

Walking for many hours is essential for training. But resistance is not the only key to the trek, you also have to let your body adapt, do not remain alone in the exercise of strength. Also try to soften! Do not hesitate to practice yoga, pilates, stretching, do regular muscle awakenings before starting a cardio activity.

Problems to solve before departure for the walk

“The ideal is to practice progressive relaxation, a little every day. And for example, after the shower, when the muscles are warm”, says Olivier Le Boëdec, an Ethiopian from Ciboure, a reference for the Rose Trip adventure. He also highlights the importance of not falling into the opposite extreme, over-preparing: “We avoid traumatizing the structures, it is better to establish a routine, do it with a little regularity.” This is simply explained by the fact that walking is best lived if one is “adaptable”. “However, if you prepare too much, you are more sensitive to a tear. Above all, we don’t want to get tired before we leave,” he argument.

In addition to the sport prescribed before a walk, you must be sure that you have solved your physical problems. An old sprain that continues to hurt occasionally? A muscle twitch that wakes you up after a bad night’s sleep? These phantom wounds must be handled by a professionalbecause “The structures are going to be subjected to a great effort, between walking in the sand, the heat, the weight of the bag… A walk exacerbates the problems”, remember the Ethiopian. He advises going to a health professional, physiotherapist, Ethiopian, osteopath, chiropractor… A month before departure, to give the body time to “recover”.

Preparing your feet, choosing the right shoes

Another point of attention, for the Ethiopian: the feet, which must be our best friends in this adventure. But who will be put to the test! “Ankles, feet, tendons, muscles, everything must be impeccable before leaving”, the Ethiopian smiled.

To get there, Florence Balavoine, podiatrist and walker, details the essentials to get going. Upstream, we can practice two simple exercises: squats and lunges, every two days and for 10 minutes. This strengthens the tendons in the knees. she notices.

Fifteen days before departure, we do a pedicure treatment. to remove calluses or any calluses or calluses. Then, prepare your feet well with an anti-friction cream, which will strengthen the skin and prevent blisters. Always two weeks before departure, we massage our feet with this cream twice a day. “The goal is to tan the skin of the foot to make it more resistant. Another option: do without the lemon under the sole of the foot!” and we cut our nails “squares flush with the pulp, because having nails that are too long is a source of bruises or ingrown nails”remember the podiatrist.

Finally, we choose his shoes,two sizes larger than usualwe bought good hiking socks,” and we do not leave with new shoes. You must have practiced them before, in everyday life, for example by going shopping with them regularly.

On the list of things to have for the walk, the podiatrist notes: “something to pierce the blisters: you must not remove the skin of the blister, you have to come and pierce it with a needle, to which you attach a sewing thread that you will have previously passed through eosin. C is the only thing that Eosin will tan the fresh skin under the blister, and the dead skin will protect this new more fragile skin“, she illustrates. In summary, then, we carry a little eosin, a needle, a sewing thread and some good anti-blister dressings each on oneself. She also advises carrying an antifungal powder in your suitcase, to put between your toes.

Equipment and hazards to avoid

In addition to the necessary orienteering equipment for this walk (compass or compass needle, topographical report, etc.), certain accessories are necessary. It is essential to carry a minimum of one liter of water, easily accessible (trekking bottle or camel back) whose content will be drunk and replenished at the refreshment posts. A whistle and survival blanket are required. The backpack carried must not exceed 25 liters.

On this subject, the leading Ethiopian of the trek underlines that the main pains come from poorly adjusted equipment. “During the Rose Trip Morocco, the first day ended with many inquiries to trapezius pain which were not due to pre-existing problems in the runners, but rather due to continuous bag pressure on the upper part of the shoulder. The bag, when fitted incorrectly, slows circulation to the shoulder muscle and mimics a torticollis, leading to a stiff neck..” He insists on the importance of correctly distributing the weight, of using all the straps so that the entire torso supports the load.

The other enemy of walking is dehydration. “ER doctors regularly notice it on walks, runners are dehydrated,” he observes He specifies that it is important not to wait until you are thirsty, which shows that it is already too late, the body is missing when the desire to drink awakens. “You have to drink small amounts all the time.. To force yourself to do this, you can establish a protocol: tell yourself that every time you stop at a mapping point, you take a certain number of sips. Creating automatisms is useful to fight against this trap, which is easy to avoid. As a reminder, drinking enough and consistently can prevent headaches or cramps, which are very bothersome during this type of physical exercise.

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