Celebrating National Hiking Day with NWOS
Greetings, adventure seekers and outdoor enthusiasts!
As we celebrate National Hiking Day, our team invites you to lace up your hiking boots and explore the stunning trails that the Pacific Northwest has to offer. In this blog post, we'll delve into the benefits of hiking for strong bones and joints, as well as your overall health, while highlighting some local hiking destinations and hiking tips. We're also excited to share photos from our own team hitting the trails!
Hiking for Healthy Bones and Joints
At NWOS, we understand the importance of maintaining strong bones and joints for a healthy and active lifestyle. Hiking isn't just a recreational activity; it's a fantastic way to promote orthopedic health and keep your bones and joints in top-notch condition. The weight-bearing nature of hiking helps stimulate bone growth, ensuring your skeleton stays strong and resilient. Additionally, the varied terrain and natural movements engage your joints, promoting flexibility and reducing the risk of orthopedic issues. Unlike high-impact activities, hiking provides a low-impact workout that is gentle on your joints. This makes it an ideal option for those with orthopedic concerns or those recovering from injuries. The rhythmic motion of walking on uneven surfaces also enhances stability and balance, further supporting joint health. Here's more about why hitting the trails can positively contribute to your orthopedic and overall health:
- Bone Density and Strength: Hiking is a weight-bearing exercise that contributes significantly to maintaining and improving bone density. As you traverse the diverse terrains of Spokane's hiking trails, your bones adapt to the stress, becoming stronger and more resilient. This is crucial for promoting long-term musculoskeletal health and reducing the risk of conditions like osteoporosis.
- Joint Mobility: The varied terrain of hiking trails challenges your joints, promoting flexibility and enhancing your range of motion. The gentle, rhythmic motion of walking on uneven surfaces engages multiple joints, including the hips, knees, and ankles. Regular, moderate-intensity hiking can help alleviate joint stiffness and maintain joint function, reducing the risk of arthritis and fostering overall orthopedic well-being.
- Muscle Strength: Hiking engages a multitude of muscle groups, promoting endurance and stability. Uphill climbs, descents, and navigating uneven paths require your muscles to work harmoniously, enhancing your overall strength. Strong muscles provide better support for your joints and contribute to better orthopedic health.
- Cardiovascular Benefits: Hiking is a great cardiovascular exercise that promotes heart health. A healthy heart contributes to better circulation, ensuring that your bones and joints receive the nutrients they need to stay strong, while also ensuring better overall health.
- Improved Mental Health: The benefits of hiking extend beyond the physical, making it a powerful and natural remedy for the stresses of modern life. The combination of physical exercise, fresh air, and exposure to nature stimulates the release of endorphins, the body's natural mood enhancers, leading to improved mood, decreased feelings of stress, and an overall sense of well-being.
"And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul"
- John Muir
Local Hiking Destinations in Spokane, WA
We are grateful to live and work in the Pacific Northwest, with so much beauty and adventure right at our fingertips. Discover the wonders of our very own community with these local hiking spots:
- Riverside State Park: Nestled along the Spokane River and just a stone's throw away from our offices, Riverside State Park is a local gem, offering a variety of hiking trails suitable for all skill levels. From the scenic Bowl and Pitcher loop to the more challenging trails along the river, there's something for everyone. Whether you're a seasoned hiker or just beginning, the park offers a perfect blend of scenic views and diverse terrain.
- Mount Spokane State Park: For those seeking a more elevated experience, Mount Spokane State Park boasts stunning alpine scenery and a network of trails that cater to both beginners and seasoned hikers. The panoramic views from the summit are well worth the climb. In the winter, the trails transform into a snowy wonderland for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.
- Dishman Hills Conservation Area: Escape the hustle and bustle of city life by exploring the Dishman Hills Conservation Area. This natural oasis features a variety of well-maintained trails winding through lush forests and open meadows.
- Iller Creek Conservation Area: This hidden gem boasts a network of trails suitable for various skill levels. The Iller Creek Loop takes you through wooded areas and opens up to panoramic vistas of the surrounding landscape. With steep ascents and descents, this trail rewards hikers with stunning views of the surrounding landscape.
Shannon Funnemark, NWOS Billing Specialist, loves the impressive hiking trails our area has to offer. She says, "My favorite hiking spots are Riverside State Park because it is close to home and there are so many trail heads to pick from :) Also, Mt. Spokane and Liberty Lake are at the top of the list."
Orthopedic Wellness on the Trails
At NWOS, we understand the importance of maintaining your health. Our team encourages everyone to take steps to prioritize their well-being, especially when engaging in physical activities like hiking. Here are some recommendations to keep yourselves feeling great to get the most out of your hiking experience:
- Wear Proper Footwear: Selecting appropriate footwear is crucial for a hike; choose sturdy, well-fitted hiking boots with proper ankle support to provide stability and protect your feet on varying terrains.
- Stretch and Warm-up: Before embarking on a hiking adventure, it's crucial to engage in a thorough warm-up that includes dynamic stretches such as lunges, leg swings, and arm circles to increase blood flow and flexibility. Targeting major muscle groups such as the quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves through static stretches after the warm-up can further enhance joint mobility and reduce the risk of injuries during the hike.
- Hydration and Nutrition: For a successful hike, ensure adequate energy levels by consuming a balanced mix of complex carbohydrates, lean proteins, and healthy fats, along with staying hydrated to sustain endurance and promote overall well-being on the trail. Make sure you pack a water bottle and some nutritious snacks to keep you fueled along your way as well.
- Know Your Limits: Listen to your body and take breaks when needed. Pushing yourself too hard can lead to injuries.
NWOS Employees on the Trails
At NWOS, we practice what we preach! Our team members are passionate about maintaining good orthopedic health through physical activities like hiking. With its countless health benefits and the opportunity to connect with nature, it's no wonder that hiking has become a favorite pastime for NWOS providers and staff, with many of them spending a lot of their free time hiking. The Pacific Northwest makes a wonderful backdrop for the activity and they're eager to take advantage. As Jody Kay, NWOS Practice Coordinator, says “I always tell my kids, life is better in hiking boots!"
Dr. Tim Powers, NWOS Spine Surgeon and Interventional Pain Specialist, is an avid hiker! He says, "The reason I love hiking, for everyone, is that all it requires is a pair of shoes, a water bottle, and a sense of adventure. It’s a great exercise that doesn’t require a gym membership, a personal trainer, any amount experience or expensive equipment. Everyone can do it. You can choose how hard or easy you would like it to be. You can choose a flat trail, even one that’s paved, or you can pick a trail that is virtually straight up, and requires you to scramble over rocks and boulders. It can be as simple or elaborate as you would like. You can go at your own pace, and you can take a break anytime you feel. If you want it to be more difficult just take a small pack with some weight in it.
You never know what you might find on a hike. You could find anything from huckleberries to mushrooms to a sense of peace, serenity and a connection with nature. I have carried fishing poles, a bow and arrows, snorkeling gear, cameras, backpacks or nothing but a power bar and a Swiss Army knife. My family and I have seen every kind of animal from a mountain goat to a river otter to a wolverine. Every time out is an adventure, and you never know what is around the next corner."
Hiking is not just a physical activity; it's a journey that nourishes the mind, body, and soul. There's an undeniable joy when starting a new hiking adventure, and the experience is only enhanced when shared with others – be it co-workers, family, friends, or your four-legged companions. Hiking with co-workers fosters camaraderie outside the confines of the office, as shared challenges on the trail build bonds and promote teamwork. Family hikes become cherished moments of togetherness, weaving tales of adventure into the fabric of shared memories. With friends, hiking transforms into a social expedition, offering both the thrill of exploration and the comfort of companionship. And when furry friends join the trek, their boundless enthusiasm adds an extra layer of joy, turning a hike into a shared adventure filled with wagging tails and joyful barks. In the embrace of nature, surrounded by the ones you hold dear, hiking becomes not just a physical activity but a celebration of connection and the beauty of the great outdoors.
Tony Hill, NWOS Support Services Director, loves hiking as both a bonding and adventure activity. He says, "My two brothers and I have done a September backpacking trip every year for the last 32 years. Different place each time from Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana. All spectacular in their own way. Highlights for us are climbing Mt. St. Helens, Robin/Tuck Lakes, Sahale Glacier, Spider Meadow, fishing alpine lakes, sliding down a Mount Daniel glacier, day hikes to the highest nearby peak. Most of all, the family bonding is priceless. We added our sons about 15 years ago with the intent of keeping this going after we can no longer continue."
Rebecca Snell, a Registered Nurse at NWOS, also loves to hike. She says, "Hiking is one of my favorite activities to do with friends. My favorite trail has to be the Scotchman Peak Trail near Sandpoint. The mountain goats at the summit are a nice surprise! Hiking to the Redemption Rock Tower in Post Falls is also a cool adventure, where you can stay overnight in the lookout tower. Having a good friend along for the trek is great for encouragement… and entertainment!"
This National Hiking Day, let's celebrate the beauty of the Spokane area and prioritize our movement and health. At NWOS, we are proud to be a part of a community that values the great outdoors, and we look forward to many more adventures to come. Whether you're a seasoned hiker or a beginner, Spokane's trails offer something for everyone. Lace up those boots, hit the trails, and join NWOS in promoting strong bones, healthy joints, and overall orthopedic well-being. Happy Hiking, everyone!