Hiking is an escape for many of us. Especially in the gorgeous terrain that Montana has to offer! However, it can take a heavy toll on the body, specifically the joints and the knees. Not to worry, sweet reader, because Krawdaddy has got you covered with some easy ways to prevent knee pain and hike healthily! If you’re looking for places to hike, check out my previous piece on the best waterfall hikes in Montana!!
A great way to hurt your body in general, is by overpacking and lugging a heavy pack on the trail all day. Minimizing and simplifying what you bring will work to your benefit, as you’ll preserve more energy and put less strain on your joints. A protip is to get a luggage scale, this one is from Amazon, and stay below 20% of your body weight. According to REI, if you weigh 150 pounds, your pack shouldn’t go over 30 lbs.
There’s a few ways to minimize your pack, and one of the best ways is to only carry items that have multiple functions. A blanket that is also a sleeping bag, compact food, a swiss army knife with a million uses, etc. This will reduce the overall volume and weight of your pack, and make it much easier on your joints as you’re trekking through the wilderness.
A great way to distribute your weight, according to Backpacker, is to use trekking poles. The poles will distribute your weight more evenly, which reduces the strain on your joints and the risk of injury from walking differently. If you don’t have any hiking poles, Best Reviews has got a top 5 ranking that should cover everything you’re looking for in a trekking pole.
IF THE SHOE FITS
Having shoes that fit properly means that you will walk in the most natural way, and prevent injury from hiking. If your shoes are too tight, or too loose, you run the risk of getting blisters and in turn, walking funny. That’s why finding the right hiking shoe, and breaking it in before taking to the trail, is a good idea.
Switchback Travel has a great piece on the Best Hiking Shoes of 2023, so you can find the latest models and designs there. Additionally, making sure that your socks are warm, snug, and durable is an important part of maintaining a healthy hike.
EXERCISE FOR THE OCCASION
It may seem ridiculous to train for exercise, but if you’re looking to prevent injury, it may be essential. Keeping your legs and core in shape will be pivotal to enjoying your hike, and physically sustaining it without injury. It can be so easy to slip up, especially if you haven’t built up the muscle and stamina to support yourself properly. Backpacker has a few exercises that they recommend:
- Wall sit: Strengthen your quads by standing against the wall with your knees bent. Hold this position for 30 seconds followed by a 30-second rest for four to five sets.
- Banded monster walk: Wrap a resistance band around your ankles and step laterally while holding a slight squat. Move for the same distance in both directions in order to correctly strengthen both sides of your body. The resistance band should provide enough tension that walking laterally is a challenge.
- Hip raises: Lay on your back with your arms resting beside you. Lift your hips to the ceiling as you squeeze your glutes. If this is too easy, hold a weight or barbell to your hips or wear a resistance band above your knees. Three sets of 10 hip raises will strengthen your glutes and help keep your knees stable on the trail.
SEEK HELP IMMEDIATELY
If you do find yourself in pain, seek help immediately. Once those ligaments and joints have been damaged and worn down, it can be near impossible to revive them to where they once were. As soon as a hint of knee pain comes on, make sure to rest and seek help from your physician on how you can prevent further damage, and get yourself back on the trail.