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muscle contractures and overloads

How to react to muscle overload and contractures during the Way

The pilgrim on the Way of Saint James faces each day more than twenty kilometres of distance. Stage after stage, fatigue and physical effort can take their toll by causing muscle overload.

The legs are the ones that suffer the most during the walk. Because of that, it is necessary to follow a series of tips to prevent the overload from leading to an ankle or knee injury. Stretching during and at the end of each stage is crucial.

  • The calf muscles are the ones that suffer the most, as they work hard when the person going up and down kills. If you notice that they are strained, it is advisable to stretch them by leaning your hands on a wall o tree along the route or using a step. Also, once you arrive at the hostel you can do a self-massage. Using the knee of the opposite leg, the pilgrim can relax the calf area and prepare their legs for the next stage.

Other parts that suffer most are the neck and the back. Pilgrims travel to Santiago de Compostela carrying a backpack with all their belongings. The overload in the lumbar and cervical is a very typical problem among pilgrims.

  • Stretch your lower back before starting the stage.
  • Take advantage of the moments of rest to put aside your backpack and stretch every hour and a half or two hours.


Overloading can lead to a contracture, which can be very uncomfortable when wearing a backpack. The trapezius is the area that suffers the most in these cases. The choice of a good backpack is once again key.

  • Stretch your trapezius during rest periods and free yourself from your backpack every hour and a half to two hours.
  • During the break, take the opportunity to move your shoulder blade and neck.

Pilgrims should listen to their bodies during the walk. It is advisable to stop every hour and a half or two hours. However, if your body asks you to stop before, take a short break and stretch your muscles before continuing.

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