If You Feel Knee Pain While Hiking Don’t Ignore It With These Tips From A Physical Therapist You Can Remedy And Prevent Injury
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Knee pain is a common hiking ailment a weight-bearing hinge joint is not a structurally ideal setup for hiking. Walking at an incline puts two to three times your body weight of pressure on your knees, according to Harvard Medical School, and walking at a decline adds even more pressure.
The little decisions you make can have big consequences in your hiking health. A too-heavy pack adds pressure to your knees and joints. Poorly fitting shoes can give you blisters and even make you change the way you naturally walk, which increases your risk for injury. Also, choosing to go sans trekking pole means your knees are absorbing a lot of unnecessary weight . None of this means you should hang up your hiking shoes for good if you start to feel knee pain. Just be smart about how you manage it.
Lateral Collateral Ligament Injury
The lateral collateral ligament is one of the four main ligaments of the knee. It connects the outer side of the femur and tibia and is primarily responsible for stabilizing the outer aspect of the knee.
An LCL injury is often the result of a blow to the inside part of the knee this causes the LCL to stretch beyond normal and can result in partial or complete tearing of the ligament.
Symptoms may include soreness on the outside of the knee, swelling, and stiffness. You may experience instability a feeling that the knee is unstable and going to buckle or give out.
32 million adults in the United States.
With aging, the cartilage that helps cushion the ends of bones in the knee joint can wear thin and eventually allow the bones to rub together. Pain, stiffness, and loss of joint movement can follow.
Some people have more significant wearing of the cartilage in the outer compartment of the knee joint and this can lead to lateral sided knee pain.
What Is Jumper’s Knee
Jumper’s knee also called patellar tendonitis is an overuse injury that occurs when a tendon is overloaded, causing it to thicken. I see this most often in younger patients who complain about pain in the front of the knee.
It can be especially painful when you squat, jump or land. Jumper’s knee typically begins in adolescence or early adulthood.
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Consider A Knee Brace
If you experience knee pain after hiking, consider wearing a knee brace during your hikes, especially those with significant elevation changes.
If you decide to use a knee brace, be sure to purchase one specifically made for hiking that has side stabilizers and gel pads for patellar tendon support.
Everyday knee braces do not provide the proper support and alignment required while hiking and can even cause more harm than good.
Other considerations include taking joint supplements or eating foods rich in Omega-3s, as well as strength training between hikes.
Are You Still Having Knee Pain
If so, work on your strength for the quad muscles in the front of the leg. The perfect exercise for this is the 3-way step-down. Your quads need to be strengthened in the lowering motion, and this movement is ideal for this. Start with a low step height and work up as able.
Youll also want to stretch and massage the quads on the front of your leg. If the muscles are tight, it can create additional tension through the kneecap when you bend your knee. If you reduce that tightness and the pain decreases, youve found one of your causes for knee pain.
Give these simple tips a try on your next adventure! Happy trails!
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What Is The Iliotibal Band And Why Is Causing Outer Knee Pain
If youre placing 4-8 times your body weight in force on your knee, its bound to irritate some of the components making up that joint. If the pain is on the outside of your knee, then it is likely to be caused by the Iliotibal Band.
The Iliotibial Band is a thick band of tissue running from your hip, down the outside of your thigh, and connecting to the knee. Because its connected to both the knee and the hip, if the IT Band is involved you may be feeling the pain on the outside of your knee travel up your thigh to your hip.
The IT Band causes pain when its irritated and inflamed. This can be due to the excessive amount of force hiking downhill causes, but also overuse of the joint often contributes as well. So if youre hiking a lot downhill, or combining hiking with other activities hard on the knees, your IT Band very likely could be contributing to your pain.
With that said, there are a lot of components to a knee joint, so if youre not sure whats causing the pain always check with a medical professional first to identify what is going on with your pain.
Diagnosis Of Pain Behind The Knee
Your doctor will examine your knee and ask about your medical history and symptoms, including:
- the type of pain you have, when it started and whether it comes and goes
- how active you are
- any activity, accident or injury that could have caused it
If they suspect a posterior cruciate ligament injury, they may refer you to have an X-ray or a magnetic resonance imaging scan. If you have signs of a popliteal cyst, your doctor may suggest you have an ultrasound scan.
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Exercises To Strengthen Your Lower Body
Squat With its range of muscles worked and its number of variations, the squat is a fitness staple. Add squats to your routine to increase lower body strength all the way around.
Lunge Like the squat, lunges work many muscles and are great for nearly any fitness routine.
Deadlift Deadlifts work the glutes, hamstrings, hips, back, and core. Doing deadlifts to increase your overall strength will help your body handle the pressure of walking downhill more easily and safely.
Step Ups Step Ups mimic stair climbing. Going up and down stairs is a lot like elevation changes when hiking.
Calf Raises Standing calf raises help build calf strength and that will help so much when hiking! Your calves put forth much effort on the trails, so make sure theyre in tip top shape!
If you regularly experience knee pain when walking downhill, be sure to talk to your doctor. There are many treatments available that can help to reduce or eliminate the pain. With the proper treatment, you should be able to enjoy all your favorite activities without knee pain.
You Might Have Arthritis In Your Knee
“Arthritis can also make walking uphill tricky and painful,” Dr. Okubadejo says. “Arthritis is when your knee’s cartilage breakdown continues, and the space between the bones in the patella, fibula, and tibia diminishes, and damage develops.”
This can actually change the shape of the joint and force bones out of their normal position, causing knee pain, he says.
Along with the treatment options above, there are a few other ways to address knee pain from arthritis.
“Maintaining your weight, injections such as corticosteroids, surgery , medications, and elevating the knee can all help reduce knee pain,” Dr. Okubadejo says.
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Why Does The Outside Of My Knee Hurt When Hiking Downhill
Most hikers know that hiking downhill is often worse on the knees than hiking uphill. After an especially challenging hike, it can be difficult for your body to transition to downhill hiking and this is often when various pains start to appear. If youre having pain on the outside of your knee while hiking downhill, you may be wondering whats causing that pain and is there any way to stop it?
Pain on the outside of your knee while hiking downhill is often due to the excessive force placed on your knee and surrounding muscles when hiking downhill. In extreme cases, it can be due to an inflamed iliotibal band, which requires medical oversight and treatment.
Lets explore why outside knee pain may occur while hiking downhill, if theres any way to prevent it, and how you should go about treating it.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links and I may receive commission for purchases made through links in these post. All links are to products I highly recommend and have verified.
Why Do My Knees Hurt After Hiking
Although it may not always feel like it at the time, hiking can put a lot more stress on your body, muscles and knee joints than typical daily activities.
Sore knees after hiking is actually a very common complaint, especially for beginner hikers.
Of all hiking activities, hiking downhill is largely what causes knee pain. The most common type of knee pain occurs around or behind the knee cap.
This is because your knee absorbs all of your body weight when you hike downhill.
Not only is it taking all of that weight, its doing so while your ankles and legs are at unusual angles.
Medical studies suggest that walking downhill actually puts stress of up to 8 times your body weight on your knee.
When youre hiking, you also often have a daypack or backpack, so thats even more weight and more impact concentrated on your knee cap.
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Other Inner Knee Pain Treatments
If your inner knee pain worsens after several days, or if basic at-home remedies dont alleviate symptoms, you should go see your doctor.
Some treatment methods for more serious knee injuries include:
- Steroid injection. This injection is used to treat pes anserine bursitis.
- Physical therapy. Therapy often involves stretching, exercises, and ultrasound therapy.
Hiking Poles Protect The Knees
Hiking poles provide significant relief when walking downhill. This is particularly noticeable on higher edges. But hiking poles are also a joint-friendly companion on even hiking trails.
It is important that you use the right poles and adjust them correctly .
However, you should not use your walking poles all the time. Especially when walking uphill, you can store them in your backpack. This way you train your sense of balance and dont rely too much on the poles.
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Route Planning: Avoid Steep Descents
If you already have joint problems, you should avoid tours with long, steep descents from the outset. You can read the intensity of the descent on the altitude profile of your hiking map or your online route planner. To avoid descents in general and still not have to give up mountain hikes, you can also choose a route with a cable car so that the gondola takes you back to the valley.
Can Hiking Damage My Knees
Without proper precautions and listening to your body when you experience pain, hiking may damage your knees.
Examples of knee damage from hiking can include:
Bursitis: Inflammation, pain, and swelling after repetitive strenuous activity or trauma to the knee.
Tendinitis: Shooting pain above or below the knee cap, burning and/or swelling. This is caused by repetitive stress on the knee.
Meniscus tear: This feels like a pop inside your knee followed by stiffness, pain, and swelling.
ACL damage: The ACL is a ligament in the knee and damage is a common knee injury, including swelling, severe pain and instability.
These are not the only kinds of injuries your knees might sustain while hiking, but they are some of the most common.
I dont share these injuries to alarm you. Rather, I want to convey how important it is to take care of your knees while hiking to prevent them.
Even if youve never felt knee pain while hiking, its important to take precaution to prevent pain and injury.
For example, keep trekking poles handy for going downhill and try to switchback whenever possible. And of course, always wear proper footwear.
If you take the proper precautions, hopefully you will never have to experience knee pain after hiking!
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Additional Treatment For Iliotibial Band Syndrome
It may be a good idea to have an analysis of your running stance, technique and footwear at this point. Having an expert evaluate and tweak your technique can help tremendously.
A strengthening program, physical therapy and exercises, and manual therapy such as trigger point work can help, too.
Common Causes Of Inner Knee Pain
There are a variety of causes of inner knee pain. Many of them can be linked to an injury. Some of the most common incidents that cause knee injury and pain include falls, sports injuries, or increased activity.
Adults particularly those older than 60 are most likely to experience knee pain. However, inner knee pain can also occur in children and adolescents.
According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, the most common causes of inner knee pain in children are:
- patellar subluxation
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Knee Pain When Going Downhill Or Down Stairs: What Is Runners Knee
Pain|April 1, 2015| Author: The Super Pharmacist
Runners knee is characterised by an aching pain around the kneecap, pain when bending the knee, swelling, a popping or grinding sensation in the knee, and pain that is intensified when walking downhill . It is the most common musculoskeletal injury in otherwise healthy, active adults and is most often experienced by individuals involved in regular activity such as running, walking or swimming . It is also commonly referred to as either Chondromalacia patellae or patellofemoral pain syndrome . Although the terms are used interchangeably, there are some slight differences: CMP is characterised by a softening of the patellar articular cartilage, whereas PPS applies only to individuals who experience pain without cartilage damage .
Train With Extra Pack Weight
One key component to downhill hiking training is to hike short distances with a heavy backpack. If your ankles, knees, hips, and back can tolerate a heavy pack, then you will have a better chance of controlling your body weight and the pack while hiking. These sand sack pack weights are easy to throw in your pack to increase the challenge. If downhill hiking normally causes you knee pain, then do not carry heavy pack weight until you have performed some of the other training techniques above for several weeks to months.
Training for downhill hiking is an important strategy not to be ignored. Implement one or two of the seven techniques year-round. If you develop a significant strength base and level of durability in your knees and muscles over time then you can add 3+ techniques to the last few months of training prior to departing for a challenging hiking, backpacking or trekking trip. The ultimate goal: Avoid knee pain when hiking downhill minimize chances of stumbling and falling having fun and feeling confident
Ready to take your downhill hiking training to the next level? Contact us today for your complimentary fitness consultation.
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How To Avoid Knee Pain
Pain in the knees after hiking is not uncommon. Especially when hiking downhill, the stress on the knee joints is high. Those who already have problems or pain should be especially careful. But prevention is also important for an untroubled hiking experience. We show you the right technique for the descent and some tips for relief.
Pain in the knee is usually due to overloading. By the way, even experienced mountaineers and tour guides are affected by this from time to time. This is due to the human anatomy, because the entire body weight rests on the knees when going downhill it even increases several times.
What Are The Symptoms
The main thing is pain. You might notice it:
- Usually in front of your kneecap, though it could be around or behind it
- When you bend your knee to walk, squat, kneel, run, or even get up from a chair
- Getting worse when you walk downstairs or downhill
The area around your knee could swell, or you might hear popping or have a grinding feeling in the knee.
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Causes And Risk Factors
Chondromalacia patella occurs when there is:
- Abnormal kneecap positioning
- Muscle weakness or tightness around the knee
- Too much movement that involves the knee
Individuals who are at risk of getting chondromalacia patella include people who:
- Had an injury, dislocation, or fracture that is related to the kneecap
- Exercise often such as bicyclists and runners
Tips For Going Down Stairs
There are a few things you can do to help prevent knee pain when going downstairs.
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