Knee pain while hiking is an incredibly common thing. And it is one thing that can suck a huge amount of enjoyment out of your adventures.
Over the years of training hikers, we have helped hundreds of hikers improve their knee pain.
And it is something we have gotten very good at.
And while everyone's situation and needs are unique, there are a few things we have seen be INCREDIBLY valuable for almost every hiker who struggles with knee pain (in all its different forms).
And today, I want to share with you three of them:
Strengthening the supporting muscles of the knees is one of the best things a hiker can do to reduce pain and the risk of more severe injury.
However, the true magic of strength training isn't seen by just doing a few squats, lunges and clams and hoping it will help...
Numerous muscles help support and protect the knees (e.g. quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, calves, adductors), and if you want to give your knees the best chance possible of staying comfortable on the trail, you want to ensure you are improving all of these areas.
And the best way to do that?
Follow a structured, progressive strength training program (created by a professional and tailored to your unique needs, preferences and situation).
Did you know that fatigue and exhaustion are significant risk factors for knee pain while hiking?
So, if you regularly get to a fatigued/overly tired state on your adventures, spending some extra time in your week focusing on aerobic conditioning could make a genuine difference.
The idea here is you want to get 'more fit than you need to be' (for the types of hiking you want to be doing) so you can control this risk factor as much as possible*
*To be clear, getting tired on your hikes is okay (and normal). But we want to avoid getting exhausted.
Sometimes, a contributing factor to knee pain is that joints above and below the knee (e.g. ankles and hips) are tight/restricted.
If this happens, it can often lead to the knee taking more pressure during movement (especially during steep descents and ascents), which can often contribute to discomfort.
So for many hikers, doing regular mobility work on the muscles around the ankles and the hips can go a long way.
*If you are aware that you are 'hypermobile' already, you can probably ignore this area
I will admit there are many other factors beyond these three areas which can be worth exploring in your knee pain journey...
But I have seen, time and time and time again, just how effective these areas can be for helping hikers feel more comfortable and confident on the trail.
So if you struggle with knee pain while hiking and are not currently working on any of these areas, these can be a great place to start.
And if you did want help with this and wanted to explore just how effective a holistic and comprehensive training program can be for your knees and your hiking, you can check out the Online Summit Program here:
Rowan is a personal trainer who specialises in training for hiking, trekkers and mountaineers for their bucket list adventures.
Summit Strength is a personal training for hiking service created specifically to help hikers have the best chance of a safe, enjoyable and successful adventure.