How To Avoid Knee Pain While Hiking

Hiking is an enjoyable sport that can improve your health and fitness. Although it is a low-impact kind of exercise, you may still have knee pain while hiking. If you have arthritis or other joint problems, the chances are higher. It's important to know the cause of your knee pain and how to treat it. Research shows that there are effective ways to lessen this pain and we'll tell you how.

Probable Cause of Knee Pain While Hiking

Knee pain can be caused by a few different conditions including:

  • Injury to the knee including strains and tears to the cartilage
  • Osteoarthritis which is from wear and tear
  • Rheumatoid arthritis that causes inflammation to the joints
  • Other joint conditions

The key to figuring out how to best treat and avoid knee pain is to determine the cause. Your doctor is the best resource for doing this. In some cases, medical treatment including surgery or injections are needed. In less extreme cases, there are things you can do at home to control knee pain. Once you have a diagnosis, you are better able to manage the pain without ending your hiking days.

Preventing Knee Problems

Knee pain while hiking is a common symptom. Anything that puts extra weight on the knee can cause pain and soreness. Wearing the wrong shoes, carrying a heavy backpack, rock climbing and being careless on the trail can also lead to pain. Here are some things you can do to prevent experiencing knee pain on your hike.

Use a hiking stick

A sturdy hiking stick can help to lessen the impact on your knees. Use the stick to shift your weight onto as you walk. This moves the stress from the knees to the stick. It also helps to give you better balance, so you don't fall.

hiking-stick
Take your time

When you're in a hurry, the odds of getting hurt go up. Hiking slowly lets you enjoy the scenery and makes you less likely to trip and fall. Accidental missteps can cause you to twist at the knee. Knee twists are one cause of tissue injury and knee pain you can avoid.

Wear the right shoes

Choosing the right shoes is one of the basics for preventing knee pain while hiking. Ill-fitting shoes put you off balance and make hiking uncomfortable. You may wish to trade your heavy hiking boots for a pair of lighter hiking shoes. Make sure they fit perfectly and give foot and ankle support where it's needed.

Stay hydrated

Drink pure clean water to stay hydrated on your hike. This helps to keep your body and especially your joints working their best. Dehydration can cause muscles to spasm.

Reduce backpack weight

Carrying a heavy backpack puts more strain on your delicate knee tissues. Take what you need, but keep your backpack as light as you can to protect your knees and ankles. Heavy packs are known to lead to injury from stress and strain.

Use a knee brace

Wearing a knee brace will help to protect your knees from injury. It can also lessen inflammation and give you relief from knee pain while hiking.

knee-pain-while-hiking
Use care walking downhill

Using walking poles can help you to pace yourself going downhill. It's easy to trip or twist a leg moving downwards with a pack. The weight pushes you faster, so you need to be careful and watch where you step.

Avoid jumping

Jumping from one rock to another can be tempting, but don't do it. If your knee is sensitive, any leaping or jumping could set off a round of pain and discomfort. Avoid jumping, leaping or doing any activities that could cause inflammation or impact on the knees.

How to Treat Hikers Knee

After you've finished your hike, you may be dealing with knee pain. The walk may have made your muscles feel tight and sore. Pain and stiffness are common symptoms after this kind of exercise. You can treat the discomfort of hiker’s knee by doing the following:

Stretches

You should stretch your muscles before and after your hike. This gets your body in better condition and lowers the chance of injury or muscle strain. Stretching after a hike limber the muscles and prevents them from getting stiff and causing more discomfort.

The best types of stretches to treat hikers knee is wall squats, Hamstring Stretches, and Leg Extensions. Each of these exercises helps to work key muscles in different areas that affect the knees. By loosening the tension and preventing stiffness from developing, pain is reduced.

Biking

Riding a bicycle is recommended for hikers to keep the legs limber and conditioned for hiking. Riding on flat terrain gives a moderate workout, but uphill rides can put more stress on the knees. Try to keep the riding terrain level for the best results.

Reduce the inflammation

If your knees hurt after a hike, apply an ice pack to the affected area. It's always a good idea to take them along on a hike. If you don't have ice-packs, then use cold stream water. You can also use the cold water or ice from an ice chest. Just be sure to wrap any ice in a towel to protect the skin from the extreme cold.

Pre-Hike Preparation

Preparing for your hike ahead of time can help to prevent knee pain while hiking. Here are essential pre-hike strategies you should use.

Eat a healthy diet

One of the leading causes of knee pain is from inflammation. Eating the right foods helps to ease inflammation and protect your body from injury. Choose foods that are known to fight inflammation and eat healthy portions as a part of your regular diet both before and after hiking. These include olive oil, fatty fish, and nuts. Green leafy vegetables, strawberries, oranges, blueberries, and cherries are also inflammation fighters. Eating these can help you to avoid the need for pain-relieving medications.

Knee pain exercises

Get into the habit of regularly exercising to strengthen your leg muscles. This keeps them well-conditioned to lessen the chance of muscle strain. It also gives your knees more support. Use hamstring stretches, wall squats, and leg extension types. Don't overdo it. Every other day is recommended. Use the knee pain exercises before and after hiking. The most important muscles to target are the hamstrings, calves, quadriceps and the IT band.

Conclusion

If you have knee pain while hiking, there are things you can do before, during and after to ease the discomfort. By following the recommendations above, you can enjoy your outdoor activities with less discomfort. A healthy diet, pre- and post-exercise and taking precautions while hiking is simple actions that can make a big difference in your enjoyment.

Michael Ethan
 

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