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Strength for off-track travel

Image of the April 2018 Wilderness Magazine Cover Read more from the
April 2018 Issue

On any tramp you will trip, slip, slide, stumble, catch your foot, twist and step awkwardly. Strong legs will help you stay in control

Having strength and mobility in your feet, ankles and knees will help you avoid injury and enable you to cover technical terrain more quickly. Strength helps you control and limit the amount of joint movement and the impact on the joints. Mobility allows your ankles and knees to move through those awkward positions with less risk of strains, sprains and tears.

But how do you get it? This month, the focus is on strength (you can read about mobility here). Be sure to try these exercises barefoot (unless you have foot injuries) – your feet and ankles will work harder without the support of shoes.

1. Wide leg squats: Step your feet wide apart and turn your feet out 45-degrees. Bend your knees into a squat and keep the knees tracking in the direction of your toes.

Challenge – stay in the squat with knees bent but lift your heels to balance on toes.

2. Chair sits without the chair: Start with feet hip-width apart, sit your hips back as if you are sitting down but with no chair – stay there and hover; be sure to keep a neutral spine, which means a slight arch in your lower back.

Challenge – stay in the squat and lift your heels.

3. Heel raises: Start with feet hip-width apart, toes straight ahead, lift your heels – balance here or go up and down a couple times; be sure your ankles don’t roll out to the side.

Challenge – try closing one or both eyes.