Descents can be tough. Shooting pain in the knees... crushed toes... slips, stumbles and falls... some serious amount of mental drain... and all too often, uncontrollable jelly legs.
And if this always seems to be happening to you while hiking, there might be one thing which is missing in your preparation...
Eccentric Muscle Contractions
When you are hiking downhill, every time your foot lands the quadriceps muscles will do something which is called an eccentric muscle contraction.
Which basically means it contracts, while it is lengthening.
Now understanding this is quite important.
Because it is this 'eccentric strength' which is essential for controlling your descent and stabilising your knees.
And if you develop this in your training...
You can greatly reduce the difficulty of downhill walking, reduce the chance of knee pain and stop those jelly legs!
How to develop eccentric strength
Developing eccentric strength is an incredibly simple thing to do. But unfortunately, of people training seem to miss it...
An eccentric muscle contraction happens anytime your muscle is contracting while it is lengthening.
And this happens every single time you do the 'lowering' portion of a repetition in the gym!
BUT this issue is most people tend to rush this part of the exercise..and if this is you, you are missing out on a huge amount of the benefits of your training!
So here is a challenge for you...
Next time you are in the gym, whether you are doing squats, lunges, steps ups, leg press or any other strength exercise.
Focus on taking 3-5 seconds to lower the weight, every single repetition.
It will take a lot of concentration...
It will make you a bit sore the next day...
But it is incredibly important!
Apply this strategy to your training in the gym and you can greatly reduce the difficulty of downhill walking, prevent knee pain and stop those jelly legs while hiking!
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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.