Mar 29, 2012 - Doug
On the use of hiking poles/sticks--
I've found that hiking with one pole really makes no sense... it actually makes you walk in an unbalanced way. Awhile back, I met an old guy who was thru-hiking the Superior Hiking Trail using two poles and I asked him why. He explained that--with two poles--there are always three points on the ground (two poles, one leg or two legs and one pole) which, if you're a math geek, forms a "plane." Think of it as a tripod or a three-legged cow milking stool--even if the surface is uneven, it will always be stable. Doing so will actually take weight off your feet and allow you to walk over the tops of roots and rocks, rather than letting your feet take the brunt of every obstacle on the path. You can hike farther and faster, and the problem of blisters is reduced. And also, since 80% of injuries and accidents occur when going downhill (on the descent), two poles provides a great deal of stability and considerably reduces the strain on your knees.
Mar 30, 2012 - Mom
Since I am having a knee problem in one knee I have learned through therapy that a lot of knee problems are caused from weak hips. Perhaps doing hip strengthening exercises before going on a long hike would be beneficial.
Apr 11, 2012 - wife
Thought you might want to read this article.
Jun 21, 2013 - Bob
Greetings from England: I found that my knee problems occurred when I walked for ten miles or more; Always pain on descent and never uphill; I did a seventeen miler with a friend and was nearly in tears towards the end and had to do the last two miles downhill walking backwards (Next day however, the knee was fine). I did some surfing and self-diagnosed I was 'overpronating'(Google over and under pronation) a pair of orthotics (Corrective cushioning insoles) in my walking boots enabled me, a week later, to do a 105 mile charity walk in five and a half days without a hint of knee pain. On the subject of walking poles; a friend who did the walk with me has bad hips, and reckoned he would never have done it without his poles. Hope this helps someone. Great site, keep up the good work.
Jun 27, 2013 - Lulu
Hi Bob -
I have the exact same issue - can you tell me a little bit more about the orthotics that you bought?
Jul 14, 2013 - Bob
I don't know where you are, but mine were from a high street chemists in the UK called Boots, but Scholl also make them. There are two main types, one with just a heel pad with more padding on the outside edge of the heel to correct heelstrike, and another type which is a full insole with heel pad and padding under the arch. I went for the heel only. There are also some sports outfitters or therapists who custom mould them for you. I also got rid of the thin insoles in my boots and bought some 'Sorbothane double strike' insoles. The insoles reduce the shock and the orthotics help my feet stay straight which in turn takes the strain off my knees - No pain anymore. Hope this helps.
Aug 30, 2014 - Robin Hayr
Any advice for preventing/caring for black toe nails? My boots were fit at REI, but the 3rd toe on both feet turned black.
Sep 04, 2014 - Hiking Dude
@Robin - Just start reading at this page
for all the advice you could use. I've been fortunate to not have the problem myself.
Sep 05, 2014 - doghiker
Have had problematic/painful knees(and feet) since high school sports ~30+ years ago. The professional/competent help I've sought has been worth the money for continued hiking enjoyment. 1) Total body (not just knees) strengthening via weight training, 2) two trekking poles, 3) carefully-fitted quality boots, 3) orthotics custom-made by podiatrist, and 4) professional physical therapy (not in any particular order) have all helped me keep walking/jogging. Also like to think that taking daily glucosamine for past 15 years has helped preserve my aging joints...
Sep 05, 2014 - doghiker
Forgot to include lose excess weight, both body and backpack! My knees ALWAYS feel better when I've lost weight and am at/closer to my ideal weight--it's one of my main motivations for maintaining or resuming the caloric restriction...
Nov 26, 2014 - Steve
I am 56 and have been hiking on and off all of my life without ever using poles or even giving a thought to having an issue with knee pain ... until ... this fall when I hiked Louden Heights across the Shenandoah River from Harper's Ferry. I went up the 1880 foot elevation gain like a billy goat, hiked all over the top, and had a great time. About 2/3 of the way back down my knees were screaming at me. By the time I reached the foot of the hill I could hardly walk even after a fellow hiker was kind enough to loan me a set of poles. I want to hike Old Rag in the Spring but was about to write that off until I found this page, and the great advice here. I will take this information and do Louden Heights again. If I fair better there I will use that as a gauge to decide if I am up for Old Rag.
Jul 17, 2015 - ahiker
I just hurt my knee from an unrelated event. Should probably take time off but hiking is not as
difficult as I thought it would be. It's the stiffness after. I did see a physio who showed me how to
complete a step by pushing off my toes, in otherwords, pushing yourself through a step, instead of
pulling yourself through makes a huge difference. I now consciously push off my toes even when I
am just walking. Someone said I now have a spring in my step:). It also ensures your step is as
properly aligned as possible. Thought this was worth sharing.
Sep 26, 2015 - Karen Titmus
I'm very interested in this thread. And greetings from Nottingham, in the
East Midlands region of the UK. I've been a power walker [averaging 4 miles
in an hour] and I've just started hiking. I've had no pain at all with power
walking, but today I've just done a modest 6 mile hike over relatively
unchallenging terrain [farm land, woodland and roads with several climbs up
and down] and finished the walk hobbling with knee pain. This happened a
fortnight ago when I did a slightly longer walk and the pattern is identical: I
start the walk completely pain free, and around the 4 mile mark on a down hill
section I get a twinge in the outer edge of the left knee. The first time this
happened there was a 30 minute progression from twinge to agony. This time
the progression was much, much shorter.
So, knee support and poles? I
flatly refuse to let this spoil my walking, but it's disappointing, to say the
least. Tomorrow's hike has had to be abandoned, and I'm trying not to sulk!!!
Apr 23, 2016 - David
Karen, I have a knee issue which seems to similar to yours. I am off to Crete next week and am
quite concerned about the 9 day walk we have ahead of us. Have you managed to find any specific
solutions to the problem? Hope you have managed to get out hiking again!
May 06, 2016 - Linda
I have just completed my first long distance walk - The Dalesway - and on the final descent into
Bowness my knees were killing me. I used one hiking pole and was interested to read that most
people recommend two poles and as I am walking a good part of the West Highland Way in two
weeks, think I will give this a try. In the meantime I am creeping about like an old age pensioner!
The pain is on the inside of my knee and mainly on my right leg which is my dominant side. I have
orthotics already due to dodgy feet.
May 06, 2016 - Hiking Dude
@Linda - Visit your doctor or a physical trainer. It may be that
some simple stretching and rest will make things better, or you may
have a condition that will just get worse and worse if you don't do
something about it.
Aug 26, 2016 - Women on wednesday
Knees seem to freeze up on steeper sections heading downhill. I appreciate the "slow down"
advice as I hike fast. Does anyone have suggestions on exercises that strengthen legs to take
pressure off knees?
Sep 28, 2016 - Vasant
I have gap of almost 12 years from walking/running and other outdoor sports. I am
training to get back in shape for my maiden 4 day easy hike. I noticed that when I
jog/brisk walk, I develop pain in my feet just above the arch. Can you please point
me in a direction where I can reduce/end this pain?
Sep 28, 2016 - Hiking Dude
@Vasant and @Women - I would point you to your doctor or physical
trainer for help with pain. Over the counter pain relief,
exercise, and better diet can all certainly help, but diagnosis and
cure of specific pain or problems isn't best done by asking on a
Feb 19, 2017 - cuzimthedad
Thanks for starting this great thread! I have just been diagnosed with arthritis in my left knee which had caused some severe pain over my past two hikes. Just had xrays taken and will have the results Monday. I would like to say that as with all things important to your health, don't skimp on the infrastructure of your hiking gear. Good boots/shoes, insoles, moisture wicking socks, poles that will hold your weight, a "your doctor approved" knee brace if necessary,a sound strengthening plan, etc. and sticking to it all. As in being on the trail the old axiom applies...take no shortcuts. Thanks again for this thread and to everyone who has participated!
May 20, 2017 - Lynn Mortimer
Really helpful advice from all thanks. Tackled two peaks in two
days both ascents challenging but no physical problems, it was
a shock to the system when on both descents the pain in my left
knee was so painful. Will try all the suggestions! Happy
May 21, 2017 - Cathy
I have the pain 'while hiking downhill syndrome.' Will try all of the suggestions above. Thanks for
the great advice.
Jul 15, 2017 - Jim
Hurt my knee day before yesterday while
decending 350m.Before that the climb
stair was with huge gap.since I always
act tough, took every step one at a time
instead of two.Burn 100% legs muscle that
time and my knee gave up at the beginning
of the decend.
Learnt a lesson never show
off take your time on every step you
Sep 18, 2018 - Jamie
Thanks for sharing the above information.
I tend to, for all my walks over 10 miles, use kineo tape and/or a patella strap just under the knee cap. I have found this useful in preventing any patellar-femoral (anterior) knee pain - I prefer the patella knee strap(rather than full knee brace) as it does not restrict blood flow.
In addition a nightly knee massage with olive oil and comfrey oil + the optional essential oil Italicum Helichrysum - expensive so only need to add a few drops) is beneficial for the knees (well any synovial joint will benefit not just the knees).
I would also agree with the use of two poles as this significantly decrease the stress on the joints, also with the adjustmentof gait particularlyon the descent and with the use of the supplement glucosamine, chondroitin + msm (don't forget tradional cod liver oil and turmeric are also beneficial.)
All the best and continue to enjoy your hiking.
May 04, 2019 - Kunal Parikh
I too injured my knee last year while trekking in India. I must
say, Total Knee Replacement Surgery was a life saviour and totally
life changing exp[erience for me.
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