Hiking is a favorite form of exercise to many. It’s so much more than just walking up and downhill. You get fresh air, beautiful views, and a terrific feeling of accomplishment from actually covering ground, instead of going nowhere on a treadmill.

However, hiking can also lead to some pretty significant aches and pains. 

If your hiking practice is inconsistent, and your body is not conditioned for the mountains and hills you’re treading over, it’s likely you’ll be hit with some pain and inflammation the next day.

Also if you cover a ton of ground you could be experiencing repetitive stress/strain in your joints and muscles from all those footfalls.

To help relieve aches, pains and inflammation in your knees, feet, ankles, and hips we’ve got a lightweight solution that will barely add any weight to your pack.

All below techniques can be performed with the two original sized Yoga Tune Up® Therapy Balls and Tote. They weigh in at just 8 ounces and will gives you loads of pain relief!

Check out the self-massage ball therapy exercises below, then get back out there and enjoy the fresh air.

Hiker Foot Pain Relief

Plantar fasciitis is a common form of heel pain that shows up for hikers. It comes from inflammation of the fascia (taut band of connective tissue) that stretches across the sole of your foot.

When plantar fasciitis hits it can hurt like a mother!

But it’s a bit more complex that that local sensation on the bottom of the foot. 

Fibers of the plantar fascia have continuity with the fibers of your Achilles’ tendon, and calf muscles. So be sure to hit up the below exercises addressing the lower leg as well if you’re experiencing foot pain.

Now, let’s get down to business and give you some foot relief.

Hiker Foot Myofascial Massage Technique

Remove one therapy ball from the tote and place it under the arch of one of your feet.

Rest your heel on the ground, this your toes in the air (this will induce an immediate calf stretch).

If you are having trouble with balance, put a hand on a tree. If it’s too intense putting your standing weight on the ball, sit on a rock or bench and do the same exercises from a seat.

Start light… gently rock your foot side to side – trying to get your pinky toe, then your big toe to the ground as you go back and forth. This will “cross-fiber” the plantar fascia.

Next, move your foot forward and back – running the therapy ball along the length of the foot. This is called “stripping” or going with the grain of the target tissue.

Finally, twist your foot right and left (just like how your grandma used to “do the twist”), creating a squeegee effect twisting your skin and fascia this way and that.

Step off and notice if your foot feels any warmer, plumper or happier. Then do the other side.

Hiker Calf Pain Relief

Achilles tendinitis is caused by overuse of the Achilles tendon. The Achilles’ tendon is the strong fascial band that binds your calf muscles to your heel bone. It can get aggravated by the repetition of hiking in varied terrain.

Pain associated with Achilles tendinitis might just start out as an achy sensation in the back of your ankles. But if gone unaddressed, it could turn into a more severe sensation. 

One of the keys to addressing this inflammation, is working out some of the kinks, trigger points and knots in the calf muscles.

That’s precisely what we will do in the exercise below.

Hiker Calf Roll Therapy Ball Exercise

Remove the Yoga Tune Up® therapy balls from the snug grip tote. 

Kneel on soft ground and rest a therapy ball behind each knee, on the bulkiest part of your calf muscles.

First, lean your hips back until you feel the pressure of the therapy balls and take a couple of breaths while your body acclimates.

Next, lightly rock your hips side to side to the therapy balls “cross-fiber” over your soleus and gastrocnemius muscles.

If you would like more intensity, sit a little heavier and “contract/relax” your calf muscles by squeezing and releasing them into the therapy balls.

Continue for about two minutes.

Take a few moments after your self-massage to sense the difference before and after your self-myofascial massage.

Hiker Knee and IT Band Pain Relief

“Hiker knee” is no joke and can sideline many an avid trekker. It’s basically caused by the compressive forces of repeatedly taking steps downhill, with the added weight of a pack, on varied terrain.

Many hikers take preventative measures such as using hiking sticks and knee braces. 

It’s also a great idea to strengthen your leg muscles overall, including conditioning your hamstrings and gluteal muscles to bear some of the weight of your walking, as overuse in the quads, and hip-flexors can contribute to hiker’s knee.

For today, we are going to focus on relieving tension in a hip flexor called your tensor fascia lattae (TFL). This muscle attaches from your iliac crest (top of your pelvic wing), straight down into your Iliotibial band (IT band).

When your TFL gets shortened, or hypertonic from repetitive use, it can feed tension into the IT band, causing it to tug on structures of the knee where it attaches.

So a great way to address tension in the knee is actually to massage the TFL up near the hip.

Check it out.

Hiker Knee and IT Band Therapy Ball Exercises

Place one therapy ball on a surface like a picnic table.

Locate a tender spot at the upper (superior) outer (lateral) thigh.

Angle your body so you can rest your weight into that spot for a few breaths of sustained compression. 

Next, begin to rock your body up and down, right and left.

You could even experiment with clenching and relaxing the muscles you’re targeting (this is called a “contract/relax” technique).

As a hiker, this area might be extremely tender for you. Go easy and notice how your hip/knee feel after you finish about 2 minutes of rolling.

Hit up the other side.

Hiker Shin Pain  

Shin splints, also known as medial tibial stress syndrome, cause tenderness, soreness, pain and swelling in the front of the lower leg.

But if you’ve had shin splints, you already know this! Sometimes the pain is related to the bone, sometimes it’s muscle related due to tight fascia.

Shin splints can come from repetitive stress on the shinbone caused by walking on uneven surfaces, a sudden increase in intensity and duration, or just good old repetition of movement.

To help ease up the tension in these taut tissues, try the following technique.

Hiker Shin Myofascial Massage Exercise

Place the toted Yoga Tune Up® therapy balls on a hard surface.

Rest your tibia (frontal shin bone) in the groove between the therapy balls.

Brace yourself on your hands and knees and slowly cruise your lower leg forward and back, so the therapy balls roll up and down the sides of your shin.

When you encounter a particularly tender spot, pause, lean into it, and try to breath slowly and deeply.

Then continue up and down for approximately two minutes.

Take a moment to rest before moving to the other side. You will probably need it!

Hiking on Into the Horizon

With proper conditioning of your muscles, fascia and joints, hiking can be a sustainable form of exercise well into the later seasons of life.

We hope you take the time to regularly practice myofascial massage and strengthen and condition all tissues so you can enjoy the varied terrains of the great outdoors for years to come!


Shop this post: To practice all of the above techniques, get the original Yoga Tune Up® therapy balls in tote.


Related Article9 of the Best Self-Myofascial Massage Techniques to Overcome Pain

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Super article pour les marcheurs, merci ! Je marchais beaucoup et j’avais mal dans le bassin et mon ostéopathe m’avais de stabiliser mon bassin quand je marche et de me faire masser…. Les balles auraient été parfaites à ce moment là !

isabelle savary

merci pour cet article intéressant, j’ai dû arrêter la randonnées pendant plusieurs mois suite à des douleurs dans un genou, si j’avais eu connaissance de ces balles j’aurais sans doute pu éviter de me priver de belles randos.

Johanna Vicens

Les petites balles YTU me suivent partout dans mes randonnées. Excellent article pour apporter une solution aux randonneurs qui malheureusement parfois sont désarmés face a des douleurs durant la pratique de leur randonnée et les pousse parfois a ne plus randonnée. Des exercice simple qui vont redonner l’espoir et le sourire aux randonneurs qui vont avoir une belle trousse de secours sur eux pour leur futures randonnées.


Que des bienfaits avec ces balles après une entorse de cheville


excellent article for strengthening, stabilizing and mobilizing your feet and ankles, whether hiking or everyday. I love it!


So many great on-the-move moves here. Love the picnic table moves 🙂 …oh those forgotten calves!

Line Couture

Merci pour cet article. Dorénavant, lors de mes prochaines sorties en montagnes, mes balles vont m’accompagner dans mon sac à dos. C’est vraiment désagréable de sentir l’inflammation le lendemain et le mal aux pieds et ainsi devoir rester tranquille. Je vais faire les exercices suggérés pour pouvoir profiter d’une autre belle journée à bouger en montagne les lendemains. Ajouter ce rituel fera partie de mes nouvelles habitudes.


Great info and a good way to introduce rolling to someone who isn’t familiar with it – everyone walks, right?

Simone Brown

I love hiking in the woods and camping as well, that being said, I rarely get the chance anymore due to a couple past hiking trips that ended up going pretty rocky. Can’t wait to get back at it and try out these tips!

Mike D

I really enjoy hiking, so thank you for providing some techniques that I can use to alleviate some of the discomfort I experience.

Niki Loyst

Wow, I’m a big canoe camping fan and after a long day of portaging these techniques would be so helpful. I’ve never had a trip without someone complaining of foot, calf or knee pain. I’m excited to bring my balls to this years trip and help my follow campers.


Love the convenience of these balls so much, I travel with mine no matter what. I love the horizontal rocking of side to side motion in the foot especially before hiking or walking long distances and definitely after! Every roll out technique is here is just what the body needs! Thanks for such a great roll out and article.

Anya Taylor

I’m reading this literally while my husband drives as we head to hike in the trinity alps on northern California. I hiked the jmt in 2014, and my feet suffered. Too tight shoes, too tightly laced for heavy packs and steep declines. Since then, my feet need extra care, and foot rolling is one thing I can do quickly. Especially in the plantar fascia area, which gets so worked in boots.

Rachel Lando

Managing foot neuropathy and being a hiker presents its obstacles. However, after spotting this article last year, I tossed a set of balls in my hiking pack. I am happy to report that with these suggestions from YTU I have been able to enjoy gorgeous views — without blinding ankle and sole pain.

Allison English

I don’t live in hilly terrain but I do love to walk a ton even on the flat paths near my home and I find these extremely helpful for keeping my feet and calves feeling great! They also reduce fatigue for me and improve circulation after exertion. I usually do them before my long walks but I love the idea of doing this mid-walk. That will be my next try! Thanks for the great lower leg series!

Monica B Pack

I love this article because I have experienced all of these hiking discomforts and the balls saved me! It was nice to get a breakdown of the roll method for plantar fasciitis because I have a client going through and now I can forward him this article!

Sarah Nelson

Love these ideas for some post-hike self-care! The last time I went camping and hiking in the mountains, you better believe my therapy balls went with me. But then again, they travel with me everywhere. 😀


I’ve experienced all of these aches and pains; thank you for the great information and tips!

Myriam P

Thank you for the tips, I Will Carry my Balls, next hike.

Cristina Bacica

Could have used this on our 18 day trip through Utah.


I find the TFL is such an underappreciated and under treated muscle. I love that you instructed to target that muscle to relieve ITB pain. I’ve seen so many people in the gym and on social media roll along the IT band itself and it just makes me grind my teeth.


I am currently partaking in a pedometer challenge and hiked on uneven terrains, in the forest and up and down hills for long distances. The Yoga Tune Up® therapy balls helped me recover way more effectively. I hadn’t made the connection between the Hiker Knee and the IT Band Therapy Ball Exercises. I’ll give it a try! Thanks for sharing!

Ann Donachey

Such easy techniques with a huge impact on those dull aches that can creep in during repetitive adventuring.

We left the balls inside the tote and let the calcaneus tendon sit between them at the distal end, but rolling them up proximally towards the knee (while avoiding the knee ditch) had each ball sitting on one of the two bellies of the gastroc. muscle. Using the contract/relax here really isolated the sensations in the gastroc for anyone looking to break that one calf roll into two!

Veronique Fortin

Well noted Thanks !!!
I am just starting to realize that I need to carry theses balls everywhere I go !!!

Isabelle Audet

Having my knees hurt each time i do a long hike, mainly when on the return (descent), i was very interested by this article. I will certainly massage more often (using the MFR describe), and strengthen my hamstrings and gluteal muscles. Thank you

Cynthia Racine

I know a couple people who will adore these tips for their summer days hiking (myself included). My YTU balls will find their way in my trekking backpack! Thank you very much for sharing!

Lucie Pivin

La marche c’est bon pour la santé,mais parfois nos pieds et nos genoux en souffrent . Je suis ravis de découvrir que les massages avec les balles de yogathérapie ont le pouvoir de soulager sur le champs. Pieds et genoux . merci des bons conseils .

Stephanie Aldrich

I like to hike, so I appreciate all the suggestions here. I was especially happy to see you suggestions for dealing with plantar fasciitis. My partner is currently struggling with this condition, and I’m looking forward to sharing your ideas with him!

Rosalynn (Roz) Adams

Foot movement is a must for everyone. Great ideas shared. Reading blogs helps with new ideas to share with friends.

Sigrún Haraldsdóttir

These portable therapy balls should be in every hikers, mountain climber and out door enthusiast bag on the go. You will be able to go further, feel better and have a much better experience with good blood flow and less tension in your body. I have many friends that have been able to enjoy their activity much longer because of healthy feet and calf tissue.

Denise Hopkins

Wow! I live in the Catskill Mountains and do tons of hiking and often experience achy feet and calf muscles. The Calf Roll is especially intense for me. I’m wondering if there is any danger with rolling into the sciatic nerve too deeply in this one?

Kristin Harris

I very much appreciated this article and wish I could have incorporated the knowledge sooner into my hiking and running life. I never thought to bring light weight balls with me on my hikes. Brilliant! Loved the explanations that were covered on various pain sites and reasons for what might be the underlying cause. Taking this article’s valuable content into consideration, I now feel that I am armed with more tools that can aid me in my outdoor hiking adventures without worry for what pain or discomfort may rest ahead. I can even see injury prevention occurring mid-hike just at… Read more »

Kristin Harris

I very much appreciated this article and wish I could have incorporated the knowledge sooner into my hiking and running life. I never thought to bring light weight balls with me on my hikes. Brilliant! Loved the explanations that were covered on various pain sites and reasons for what might be the underlying cause. Taking this article’s valuable content into consideration, I now feel that I am armed with more tools that can aid me in my outdoor hiking adventures without worry for what pain or discomfort may rest ahead. I can even see injury prevention occurring mid-hike just at… Read more »

Toni Dee

I love all the tips and tricks. There really is no excuse to not bring your balls with you where ever you travel. I don’t leave home without mine 🙂

Rosalynn (Roz) Adams

I believe this could be beneficial to everyone. We all have feet and we would like to keep moving without pain.

Cammy Adair

Love this article! I could’ve avoided a nasty bout of Achilles tendinitis had I know about these tools and techniques! I’m going to share these ideas when I do my “Yoga for Hikers” sessions.

Ashley Shears

As a barefoot massage therapist, I use my feet and lower body ALL the time. These are fantastic self-care tips to keep my body healthy so I can do my best with the work and throughout my daily activities!

PJ Olsen

I have numerous clients who hike regularly and often mention how tight their calves feel all of the time. The therapy balls are such a great, simple solution and are something that’s convenient for them to bring along on their travels. Can’t wait to share this article with them!

Missy Tillman

I absolutely loved this article as I deal with hikers but also with populations with knee pain that I believe comes from overused TFL. As well as addressing dancers Achilles’ tendon irritation

Tara Young

Great techniques you can use hiking to keep on the trail. Love!


Thank you so much for the advice. I have a lot of friends who hike and have told me stories of the pains they endure, especially those that have done the El Camino. I can’t wait to share the tips and encourage them to pack the Tune Up Balls on their net adventure.

Julie Heacock

Next time I’m on a hike, my Tune Up Balls will be an essential item in my pack. Great post.

Mariana Espinosa

I have noticed that lower leg massage is underrated but doing it really makes a difference in the way we feel our tissues, walk and even stand. Even though I’m not a hiker, I could feel the benefits from all the techniques mentioned above, because we all walk and use our legs to move from one place to another. My thighs and feet feel much more rested and spacious. Caring for our legs is a life insurance so that we age with healthy tissues, better circulation and a graceful posture!

Marnie Werner

These techniques are so helping out on the trail. Next time I go on a backpacking trip or a section hike, I will be packing my Therapy Balls! Every ounce counts when you are choosing what to pack and what to leave at home. Every ounce is more strain on those knee joints, and uses up precious energy! So when deciding what to pack, I will probably end up leaving the deck of cards and book to read, and make sure my Tune Up Balls make it in there. No excuses to be in pain when you pack appropriately, and… Read more »


Hiking is one of my favorite workout but I don’t get to hike as often and so my body is not quite prepared for the hills. I always get heel pain and sore calves the next day after each trip and end up taking lot of pain killers. This hiker foot and calf therapy ball self-massage exercise works like magic! My feet feel happier and my calf muscles are more relaxed! Aside from this treatment and investing in a good pair of hiking shoes, I found that stretching and massaging my arches and calves one or twice a day prior… Read more »


Gracias por este maravilloso artículo, poder entender y preparar la fascia plantar para poder disfrutar de las caminatas , tan necesarias para nuestros cuerpos (físico ,mental y espiritual).
Al comprender la relación de la planta de los pies con el resto del cuerpo y el movimiento, podemos sentirnos enraizados y sostenidos y sin duda nos ayudará en el día a día .


How about pain relief if you are on an island and you get back pain or sciatica,I have found relief by finding a big rock or stone and placing it in a microwave or in a stove , careful not to heat more than 1 min and wrapping it in a small cloth or paper towel and rolling on the inflamed spot with the heat penetration