Hiking is one of the most common outdoor activities here in Beautiful Vancouver, and we are blessed to be surrounded by mountains and trails. One of the most common trails for hiking, both for locals and for tourists from all over the world who visit Vancouver during summer holidays is the Grouse Grind trail, located up the side of Grouse Mountain in the North Shore Mountains of the Pacific Ranges in North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
Elevation: 1,231 m (4,039 ft) from the sea level. Every summer people come to do the grind and test their fitness level and boast about their accomplishments to their friends.
The Grouse Grind trail is a steep, nearly vertical trail, and recently the staff of Grouse Mountain have reinforced the trail with steps to make it easier to ascent.
It usually would take an average person with a good fitness level about an hour to an hour and 10 minutes to summit the trail, but having said that, because of the elevation gain hikers usually feel short of breath and start feeling heavy legs and slow down closer to the top, slowing their pace. There are also hikers that train all year round and have built special endurance and fitness levels, enabling them to do the grouse grind in under 40 minutes or less.
There are some precautions new hikers should consider while doing the grind – to be well hydrated and to carry water with you. Wearing thinner and loser clothing helps with comfort and keeps you cooler while you are hiking up as well (sometimes during the summer temperature can rise above 25C +/-).
As a regular hiker and trail runner, I have noticed that there are times when I want to improve my hiking and trail running time, and I have to make some improvements to my muscle strength and muscles flexibility to accomplish this.
What Muscles are Used When Hiking?
Trekking up hills or mountainsides is hard work, and it engages multiple muscle groups in tandem. Here are the muscles used most strenuously:
• Gluteus group
• Lower Back
• Ankle and Knee Complex
• Inside and Outside Thigh
The muscles listed the above can vary in people differently – some people will have a stronger muscle group but are not necessarily flexible while some people have less strength but more flexibility. A hiker should usually consult with a professional and find out what muscles need to be strengthened and what muscles need to be stretched to find the right balance.
Commonly after a vigorous hike like Grouse Grind it is recommended to stretch post hike for about 10-15 minutes and to hold each stretch longer than 40 seconds.
Post-hiking can cause some pains and aches due to repetitive movement and storage of metabolic waste like lactic build up in the major muscles like gluteus, quads and hamstring groups. Massage therapy is usually recommended as a natural healthy alternative treatment to loosen the muscles and flush out the lactic build up in the muscles.
Once the seasonal hiker gets into a more regular routine of hiking there will be less discomfort. Keeping your lower extremities strong and doing regular exercise will make you a better hiker and improve your performance so you can enjoy your beautiful summer day in Grouse Mountain in North Vancouver BC. Canada!
Shem Sharifi, RMT, and a true out door lover!