Hiking is a great activity to stay active and healthy, but for many, hiking can lead to increased strain and wear on the knees. Knee pain is common while hiking for a number of reasons. First, the type of terrain shifts frequently when hiking, meaning your body can’t adjust and the type of terrain adds pressure points which aren’t present on a normal walk.
People also widen or narrow their stride when hiking, leading to new pain points, and many carry packs with them on hiking trips which add extra weight to many of your joints, including your knees. If you suffer from knee pain, you’re not alone. Many experienced and amateur hikers alike suffer from knee pain while hiking, and while it’s possible to cause permanent damage while hiking, there are a number of ways to protect yourself. Here are just some of the things you can do to protect your knees while hiking.
1. Know your gear
Carrying and using the right gear can make all the difference to your joints while hiking. If you suffer from chronic knee pain while hiking, try using specialized gear like trekking poles. Trekking poles help redistribute your weight as you hike, alleviating the pressure from your knees and letting the pole take the brunt of the load. Studies have found that trekking poles can reduce the force placed on knees by up to twenty-five percent.
You can also use knee braces which serve the same function as trekking poles – removing pressure from your knees and distributing it elsewhere. In addition, you should wear hiking boots which fit you snugly and are well cushioned, as well as flexible. Great hiking boots will also support your ankle and produce great traction while hiking.
2. Helpful supplements
Many people experience joint pain when hiking, or in their day-to-day lives. If you suffer from joint pain, there are a number of supplements you can take to relieve your symptoms. Our Arthro-Tact Healthy Joint Formula is made specifically to reduce and eliminate joint pain, relieving sufferers from joint pain, cartilage damage, stiffness, and inflammation. The formula blends together many ingredients, such as Turmeric and Quercetin, to help those who suffer from joint pain find relief.
3. Use proper technique when heading downhill
For most, the fun in hiking is found when climbing up the mountain or trail. Many people relax when hiking down the mountain, and, as a result, use improper technique which can easily strain their knees and other joints. As discussed previously, you should always use a trekking pole to add stability and redistribute strain.
You should also use hiking boots which support your ankle. When heading down a mountain, you should always keep your knees loose and add a spring to your steps. Keeping your knees locked is a great way to injure them by adding unneeded pressure. You should also pace yourself, making sure you’re not travelling too quickly, nor too slowly.
It’s best practice to let gravity decide the pace at which you travel. Finally, you should lean back slightly to increase your stability and hike in a zig-zag path which increases control for your decent. Zigzagging also decreases the chance of slippage on loose gravel or in muddy areas.
4. Use proper technique when hiking uphill
There are fewer specific things you can do when hiking uphill, but they do exist and will help you control your body and decrease the pressure to your knees. Try your best to walk flat-footed, as opposed to stepping on your toes. This position will decrease stress to your joints and help you maintain your balance. In the same line of thought, take shortened steps to the best of your ability.
Long strides increase pressure and increase the likelihood of slips. Finally, never lean back while walking uphill. Leaning back during your journey will throw off your balance and lead to greater strain on your knees. Keep your torso above your hips to the best of your ability.
5. Stretch and reduce weight whenever possible
It’s important to stretch before and after each hiking trip. Stretching helps your muscles stay limber and ready for other activity and avoiding proper stretching can cause your joints and muscles to stiffen or lock up, which increases the chance of damage to bones and ligaments.
Muscles need to be loosened after physical activity and the best way to do this is to stretch early and often. Tight muscles will strain your entire body, but this strain is most prevalent in your knees, which bear the brunt of your exertion when hiking.
In addition, you should reduce the weight your pack as much as possible. While there’s always going to be supplies you must take on your hiking trip, you should try to stick to the bear essentials, ditching items which you don’t need and will only add weight to your load. In addition, you should try to distribute the weight evenly within the pack.
Q & A
Is walking good for knee pain?
Walking and stretching for a moderate amount of time each day is great for keeping joints limber and inflammation down, but walking should always be done in moderation. It’s always best not to over-exert painful joints.
What are the 5 worst foods to eat if you have arthritis?
If you suffer from joint pain and arthritis, it’s best to avoid highly processed foods, such as trans fats, gluten, refined cars, white sugar, and fried foods. Foods which are high in sugar such as doughnuts, are best to be avoided.
Are weighted vests bad for your knees
Yes, weighted vests add extra weight and therefore extra pressure on your knees and joints. Try to avoid weighted vests if your knees are chronically aching.
How to avoid pain while descending from trekking?
To avoid pain on the descent, use a trekking pole and let gravity decide your pace. Don’t rush down the path and never lock your knees. All of these methods are great for keeping excess pressure off of your knees.