Hiking Knee Pain Causes and Treatment

Whether they have a grand plan to scale all 53 of Colorado’s fourteeners or just casually explore the trails close to your home, many hikers struggle with knee pain after an outing. While hiking down inclines may be the source of pain, hikers may not need to stick to flat treks to avoid pain, as many strategies help in preventing hiking knee pain.

A hiker’s knees may absorb shocks up to eight times their bodyweight when hiking downhill, according to Knee Surgery, Sports Traumatology, Arthroscopy, so even minor alterations to your habits can reduce post-hike pain.

  • Pack Lighter: The heavier the pack, the more force is put on the knees when you head downhill. Stick to essentials rather than luxuries – wireless speakers, cook stoves, unnecessary clothing – and cut down the impact the knees absorb with each step.
  • Use Trek Poles: Trek poles transfer some of the impact of each step into shoulders, helping to alleviate the stress on the knees by up to 25 percent, according to a study by the Journal of Sport Sciences. Titanium-tipped trek poles won’t just save knees and provide stability on rocky stretches: They frequently improve hikers’ speed.
  • Check Your Boots: Just like running shoes, good hiking boots are designed to absorb and redistribute some of the shock of each step. Many times, hiking boots still look presentable long after their functional benefits have deteriorated, so rotate boots frequently.
  • Support: A knee brace or taped support can be a temporary solution to knee problems. While helping ward off hiking knee pain, it’s important to determine the underlying root of your problem with a doctor.
  • Stay In Control: Bounding down inclines can be fun, but it only amplifies the forces that cause knee pain. Take short, bouncing strides, focusing on precision of each step rather than length and speed. A good downhill stride takes advantage of momentum without losing control.

Hiking knee pain is preventable in many cases. If changing habits doesn’t alleviate pain, hikers may need to visit with a doctor to determine therapy or treatment options. Front Range Orthopedic and Spine’s staff is experienced treating knee injuries and sports-related injuries. Call us at 303.772.1600 to schedule your appointment.

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