Are you looking for ways to avoid knee pain while hiking? Then this blog post is for you.
Hiking is an excellent way to stay in shape whilst taking in the beauty of the great outdoors. But every hiker fears the day when their knees start to ache. Our knees are vulnerable to injury because they have to endure an incredible amount of stress. Activities that involve repetitive pounding, such as hiking are the most difficult for knees. Over time, wear and tear can take a toll on knee function. That’s why knee pain is very common amongst hikers of all ages.
There are many potential causes of knee pain. The most common causes include muscle weakness, poor flexibility, torn cartilage, wrong footwear, and ligament damage. But even though knee pain often differs from one person to another, there are a number of steps you can take to avoid knee pain while hiking.
Related: How to get in shape for hiking?
To get the most out of your next outdoor adventure, follow these 5 pro tips on how to avoid knee pain while hiking.
1) Strengthen your muscles
One of the best ways to avoid knee pain while hiking is to strengthen the muscles in and around your knees. Your muscles will start growing weaker if they are not strengthened with proper workouts and exercises. The physical effort of hiking can be overwhelming if you haven’t gone through some rigorous exercises before hitting the trails. But it is necessary to start slowly and not to force it. The idea is to practice regular physical activity and strengthen your knee muscles.
Remember, once is not going to be enough. That’s why you have to train at least two or three times per week. You need to work your way up slowly but consistently. Four or five repetitions on each leg is a good starting point. When you use your muscles, they become stronger. Little by little, your knees will be prepared to endure tougher and longer hikes. But never ever push yourself too far, too quickly. You will only hurt yourself if you rush your training sessions.
Recommended exercises for strengthening your knees:
2) Use trekking poles
The second best way to avoid knee pain while hiking is using trekking poles. A set of hiking poles can be of great use when you’re out hiking especially on challenging, uneven terrains. High-quality trekking poles are a simple way to take some of the stress off of your knees. Trekking poles such as our TREK Z 2.0 serve as great aids for both balance and stability. When used properly, trekking poles help lessen the overall impact and pressure from your knees.
Bringing trekking poles will surely add a lot more comfort to your hike. But you do need to learn how to properly grip the trekking poles in order to benefit from them. You also have to adjust the height of the poles accordingly for uphill and downhill hikes. Adjusting the length can boost stability on varying terrains. You should lengthen your poles when going downhill and shorten it during uphill hikes. Doing so will make it easier to walk.
Note: Even with a good pair of trekking poles, there is a risk of overexerting & hurting your knees. So, do not forget to spend a few hours relaxing during the hike.
To select the best trekking poles available, check out this blog post “How to choose the right trekking poles?”.
3) Find your pace
Next thing you’ve to keep in mind is to find your pace. You should aim to hike in a consistent, easy-going pace throughout the day. A steady pace makes for a successful hiking experience. Keep in mind that hiking in itself is not a race and there are no prizes for being first to the finish. So try not to start out too fast in the heat of the moment. It’s important to know exactly when you’ve to slow down and when to speed up.
Make an effort to walk slowly if you start feeling tired and try to maintain a steady stride. Hiking becomes a lot more fun and safe for all when everyone is walking at a comfortable pace. Find your rhythm and avoid rushing to catch up with your group members. It’s good to pace yourself and take plenty of breaks along the way. That way you will get to enjoy your hike to the fullest without having to deal with knee pain.
4) Wear the right footwear
The last thing you want to be doing while hiking is wearing an uncomfortable set pair of footwear. Be sure to wear shoes or boots that are made specifically for hiking. And avoid heavy hiking shoes or boots in easy hiking paths. Improper footwear can lead to knee pain and joint aches when you’re out hiking for long periods of time. If your hiking footwear isn’t right then you are at a high risk of experiencing knee pain, especially on rocky or uneven terrain.
Shoes or boots you choose to wear should offer plenty of cushioning to help absorb impact and relieve pressure from your knees. Your legs are the ones doing the most work while hiking. So, it pays to focus on the type of hiking boot you choose to wear. If you recently bought a new hiking shoe then don’t go hiking with it unless you break it in first.
5) Keep your backpack light
Hiking with heavy load on your back puts more stress on your joints. So try not to pack unnecessary items for your hike. Avoid overstuffing your backpack and only bring the necessities. Take only what you need, not what you think you might need while on the trail. Your knees will be at ease for most part of the hike if you don’t have to carry a shitload of equipment and gears on your back.
Be very selective with what you want to bring. Keep your hiking checklist as short as possible. Prioritize bringing items that are lightweight and durable. Look for lighter alternatives whenever possible. Also, any multipurpose item will be a great addition to your hike.
Dealing with knee pain on a hike can be dreadful. Once your knees start aching, it becomes quite difficult to enjoy the outdoors, no matter how beautiful or easy the trail is. So, do keep these tips in mind to avoid knee pain and injuries whenever you’re out hiking. At first, it won’t be easy to follow all the above-mentioned tips and advice. So be smart and do what seems right to you. Slowly with practice, these techniques will become easier and then become second nature to you. Lastly, all that’s left for you to do is simply get out there and explore as many hiking trails as possible.
If you have any questions or tips you want to share, do let us know in the comments down below.
Want to learn how to beat the heat and stay cool while hiking? Check out this blog post!