Power Rests

27 June 2013 11:58 pm0 commentsViews: 32

Power rests might sound like an oxymoron but they are an effective way to supercharge your rest time on the trail. The objective is to maximize the value of every minute you are not moving forward by delivering as much relief to your feet and legs as possible.

The Technique:

1. Elevate your feet above your heart while laying down like so:


You can prop your feet up on whatever is naturally available around you. The above photo is taken at a flat trail with a gravel picnic area so I used the bench for my feet and my pack for a pillow.

The goal is to get your legs above your heart.

Below is another example pic from where the trail is steeper and there is a mini-clearing around a small rock made by peoples feet as they sit the rock to rest. Rather than follow the inefficient example of those before me and sit on the rock, I throw down my tarp just downhill of the rock and lay using both the incline and the rock to elevate my feet.


Since I use an external frame pack the ground cloth take la less than a minute to grab and throw down. The ground cloth keeps me dirt free and lets me better see ground bugs approaching.

Another example (final picture of my legs, I swear guys), shows me using nothing but a 30 degree slope of the rock face to elevate my legs. This was great because the use if the incline allowed for the back of my knees to be supported while resting.


2. Do this as often as needed or for as long as needed on your breaks. I find doing this for 5-15 minutes at a time during my breaks to be sufficient to feel the benefits.

3. Grab snacks and water from your bag when you lay down to eat and drink during this rest time (so long as you can do this without choking, which for me is easier with my head propped up a little)

Why it Works:

For one, it forces your to get all the weight off your feet. I get lazy from time to time (yes, too lazy to set my pack down), and I can tell you simply standing with your pack on is not rest. If you are huffing and puffing, do more than standing around to give your lungs a break. Get off your feet and see the difference it makes.

Really though, the elevation is key. Your heart works to pump blood up from your lower extremities against gravity. Getting your legs above your heart allows for your cardiovascular system to rest, especially where it needs it most (in your legs).

Elevating your legs in such a way is called a leg inversion.

This exercise shows up in a few variations outside of backpacking. When done indoors, it is often done by putting your legs up a wall, which is closer to a full body inversion. That technique appears in yoga and has often been the remedy for aching feet during pregnancy or for those with “restless syndrome.” If you want to read more about the medical benefits do so by researching those.

Power rests help increase the vale of rests that you are taking. This is great because it helps you spend more time on your feet moving forward.

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