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Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Trekking at altitude

I have just landed in Peru to do the Inca Trail up to Machu Picchu! The hardest thing with this trek is the altitude, not so much the terrain; when you trek in high altitude you have less oxygen for your body to use, so your body will be working harder without you even knowing it.

Here are my top tips for trekking at altitude:

  • Take your time
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Snack on fruits (and some lollies are always good!)
  • Have an electrolyte drink as well as water
  • Make use of sports recovery gels
  • Dress in layers
  • Pack light
  • Stay focused: this is important as you may get lightheaded or feel sick – if this happens take a break and have a cup of tea
  • Make sure your feet are prepared for trekking: keep them dry, do a few minutes of massage each day, make sure you have fresh socks and cover any ‘hot spots’ to avoid blisters
  • Take full breaths and breathe a little slower than usual – your body is using every bit of oxygen it is getting.

If you’ve just finished a 10-hour day of trekking chances are your body will feel tired and your legs sore. If you’ve got another trek tomorrow, how do you prepare?

If you have a river close by, putting your legs in to help freshen them up (like an ice bath) is great way to do a recovery session.

Alternatively, a pool session is a great way to help the body recover.

Pool recovery session:

  • 10 minutes walking on the spot in the pool
  • 10 x leg swing-through: holding onto the side of the pool, take your leg up and swing like you are kicking a ball
  • 10 x side leg swings: face the pool wall and take your leg across your body and back up so your leg is hip height
  • Calf stretching: move feet on to the pool step and drop your heel down, feel the stretch in the back of the leg
  • 2 x 1 minute standing quad stretches, each leg 
  • 2 x 1 minute hamstring stretch, each side: put your leg up on the step or side of the pool and hold
  • 3-5 minutes floating or treading water
  • Jump out of the pool and, lying on your back, and do lower back rolls, left and right, keeping you upper back flat on the ground
  • Get a good nights’ sleep

Part of recovery is to hydrate and eat a great meal to help recharge the batteries.

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