A Hiker’s Guide to Knee Support
The 2016 hiking season has finally arrived with the opening of the Grouse Grind. What’s that? You’ve never visited Mother Nature’s Stairmaster? Whether you are an accomplished hiker or a novice out for your first climb, the spectacular scenery at the top is well worth the challenging 2,830 steps ascent up the mountain.
As a hiker, I always try to fit in time for the Grind whenever I can. Unfortunately, however, I have suffered from knee pain for the past several years. And let me tell you, pain in your knees climbing up the Grouse Grind can make for a pretty unpleasant hike.
Knee injuries can happen doing just about anything. However, the endless pounding of hiking can really put a lot of wear and tear on your joints. The chance of a torn ligament from a twist or a fall are always a possibility on the trail, but it is your knees that are more likely to suffer if they are overworked. But if you are like me, the thought of being cooped up indoors on a gorgeous day, nursing a sore knee is simply not an option.
Here are some helpful tips to keep your knees in great hiking condition and treat your joints with the respect they deserve.
Wear high quality hiking shoes/boots
When it comes to protecting your knees, it’s all about the shoes. Take my word for it—wearing a proper fitting, well-cushioned shoe is going to make a world of difference. The right footwear will help take pressure off your knees when your heels hits the ground. If you are thinking hiking boots, make sure they have shock absorbing soles and ankle support. Quality hiking boots will help minimize the impact of shock during hikes, helping to save your knees.
Strengthen your legs
Taking on a challenging hike without being physically prepared is a sure-fire way to injury. Is it really worth crossing the Grouse Grind off your bucket list if you wind up in the hospital? Knee problems are less likely to happen when you strengthen your leg muscles.
I like to do a lot of exercises that workout my hamstrings, inner thighs, quadriceps and calves. For example, I ride my bike (or a stationary bike when the weather’s brutal) for at least 30 minutes every day. I also do a wide variety of weight-bearing exercises, including lunges, step ups, and squats. Keeping your leg muscles strong and balanced will help your knees handle the stress while hiking.
Wear knee braces
When hiking, wearing a knee brace is a great option for additional support. There are a wide variety of braces on the market for compression, stability, ligament support, tracking, and more. So, I highly recommend consulting with a physician or a qualified pharmacist to help you get a grip on what works best for you.
Don’t let the hiking season pass you by. With a little help and a little planning, you can help minimize pain and maximize your experience on the trail.
Taking up hiking this spring? Come in to meet with our brace fitters today.
Have you been up the Grouse Grind or are you thinking about it? We would love to hear all about it!