Knee pain is a common issue for hikers and mountaineers.
The knee has a somewhat unstable design, yet it must support the body’s full weight when standing and even more so when hiking with a heavy pack. Hence, it’s no surprise many people have issues with knee pain.
Chances are you’ve tried resolving this by getting knee support, taping up your knee or taking some painkillers. Whilst these can help temporarily, they don’t deal with the root causes of the pain (which is likely nothing at all to do with your knee!).
So what might it be down to?
A couple of common issues;
1. Weak glutes
One of the most critical muscles to help support knee pain is the glutes (your bum). Your glutes (particularly the gluteus medius) is responsible for supporting and stabalising the knee.
If you are hiking without strong glutes, you can put a lot of pressure on the knee and over time this really adds up!
This is just one reason why it’s so important to include strength training with specific exercises to strengthen the glutes. Especially when most of us work in sedentary jobs which contributes to weak and underactive glutes. A weak gluteus medius is also associated with low back pain.
But once the glutes start doing their job, every step feels a whole lot easier.
Tight hips and ankles
Generally, the joints in your body want to either be mobile or stable. For hiking, the knee joint wants to be stable and your hip and ankle joints want to be mobile.
Unfortunately, it’s common for our hips and ankles to be really tight due to a variety of reasons such as sedentary lifestyles.
So, when hiking if the body can’t find sufficient movement in your ankle and hip joints, it will have to try and find it with another joint – such as the knee.
But once your hip and ankles become more mobile, the knee will be much more stable.
Simple exercises for hikers knee
Here’s a super simple routine to start mobilising the hip and ankle and strengthening the glutes.
- Do 10 ankle circles both clockwise and counterclockwise each side
- Do 10 90/90 hip stretches
- Do 20 glute bridges
- Do 10 side lying hip abductions each side
- Hold the pigeon pose for 20 seconds each side
- Do this everyday
(If you don’t know how to do these exercises, just type them into Youtube).
This whole routine will take you 5 minutes. It’s not HIIT and won’t get you sweating but it’s perfect for improving the right joints and muscles to be a healthier and pain free hiker.
And if you would like to take this a step further, you can get access to a free hiking strength, endurance and mobility training programme when you sign up for a free trial here.