How can I get in shape for a backpacking trip?

What is the best way for a non-athlete to get back in shape for a backpacking trip? I want to hike the Wonderland Trail in 5 months, but I have gained weight and lost muscle tone recently. Niki Berkeley, California

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The number one injury prevention tool you have as a hiker is improving your stability for uneven or loose terrain. There will likely be many times that you nearly twist an ankle or take a nasty spill, so you want your body as stable as possible to help maintain your balance in those situations.

What’s more, your movement patterns have likely deteriorated during the time you’ve been inactive. When you’re carrying weight in your pack, this will only exacerbate faulty movement, which will drain you of energy faster and put you at greater risk of injury.

So while it’s important to regain your strength and drop the weight you’ve added in recent months, you’ll also need to focus on improving your posture, stability and overall movement patterns.

Keep those things in mind as you return to the gym. With a focus on hip, shoulder and torso stability, mobility, balance and flexibility, you’ll be on your way to a fun, safe and adventurous outing.

For a beginner’s guide to stability exercises, click here.

Nick Anthony, Performance Specialist, Athletes’ Performance

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