Knee Pain Going Downhill?
Nearly 60 percent of Appalachian hikers surveyed said they experienced sore knees during their hike. Why do your knees hurt more going downhill than up? What can you do to help them ache less? Learn a few tips here that can really help save your knees and your hike!
Did you know that while hiking downhill, your knees absorb nearly 8x your body weight! Hiking on flat terrain or uphill place the joints in a better position to absorb the pressures. By going downhill (or stairs) your outstretched leg relies on the knee to handle the pressure as you place weight on that outstretched foot.
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There are a few other things that may play into your knee pain besides gravity and the hill grade. If the hip and leg muscles are imbalanced as we have discussed before, your kneecap will not stay in the center of a little groove.
Likely, the kneecap is being pulled to the outside of your knee slightly, causing pressure and pain.
One other factor may be overpronation. If the foot is collapsing with each step due to lack of foot strength or proper footwear the knee will begin to absorb pressures that will cause pain.
There is good news! Strength and trekking poles can do wonders to help reduce the strain. Focus on leg strength with exercises like squats, lunges, step-ups, and deadlifts to help support the knee and iron out any muscle imbalances.
You can also use trekking poles to help absorb the pressure in the knees via the arms and shoulders. The other option, of course, is to move a little slower going downhill and side-step steep sections if needed.
You can reach me firstname.lastname@example.org with any injury issues, past or present that you feel will impact your hike. Training questions are also welcome – I am happy to help!