Walking downhill after conquering a large mountain always seems like the easy part. After trekking up switchbacks and steep climbs, it is easy to march back downhill without giving a second thought. However, going downhill puts more stress on your joints and may cause you knee pain for weeks or even months after a good hike. Here are a few tips to help you avoid knee injuries on high-elevation trails.
Take advantage of switchbacks going downhill
Switchbacks, although difficult when going uphill, are ideal for going downhill. They’re designed to level out the trail to lessen the stress on your knees and joints, which you’ll be thankful for the next morning. Try to avoid the temptation to take the steeper shortcut, especially when wearing heavy backpacks.
Invest in hiking poles
Hiking poles give a bit of extra stability and help take some of the impact while going downhill. Investing in a good pair of adjustable poles may just keep you from going to the chiropractor for months to come.
Wear a knee brace
If you already suffer from knee pain, a brace can help lessen that pain while hiking. However, braces are best to wear only when it feels necessary. Wearing a brace all the time may prevent your knees from getting stronger, as instead they may rely on the “crutch” of the braces to absorb the impact.
Don’t lean back
While hiking downhill, we often try to over compensate for the uneven terrain by heavily leaning backwards. However, this will put you off balance and put an uneven stress on your knees. Try to instead stay upright over your hips; this will line you up over your knees. If you can lean very slightly forward while keeping your stability, that will help as well.
Bend your knees
Make sure to keep your body loose while descending the hill. Locking your knees or joints can cause a great deal of pain or even hyperextend the joint in the wrong direction. Instead, keep a good bend in your knee at all times.
Stretch and exercise your muscles before and after hiking
When your knees are in pain or you’re tired after a hike, the last thing you probably want to do is more exercise. However, stretching can be one of the best things you can do. It helps keeps your joints flexible. It’s important to stretch your muscles before and after hiking so your body stays loose and is less prone to injuries.
Invest in a good pair of shoes
Proper hiking boots with a bit of cushioning will help absorb a bit of the impact with each downhill step. This in turn helps ease the pressure off of your joints.
Make sure you’re only taking the essentials. Do you really need that entire bottle of sunscreen? The lighter the backpack, the less stress on your knees. Also, make sure to pay attention to packing your backpack correctly by balancing the weight evenly. An unbalanced backpack can be putting more stress on one knee over the other.
PURICA products to avoid knee pain
It might seem tempting to reach for an ibuprofen to numb pain you’re either already experiencing while hiking or expecting to feel, but pain killers are often just a temporary solution to a bigger problem. Products such as PURICA Recovery and PURICA Curcumin can be extremely helpful to take as both precautionary methods to avoiding pain and after you’re already in pain. While PURICA Recovery acts as a pain relief, it goes beyond that. These vegan, non-GMO and gluten-free capsules regulate inflammation, inhibit cellar damage and increase the cells’ ability to absorb important hormones. Essentially, it targets the root cause of your pain while preventing future injuries. Overall, PURICA Recovery helps immensely with tissue maintenance and repair, so you can stop worrying about knee pain on your next adventure. PURICA Curcumin is a fantastic anti-inflammatory as well. Not only that, but it acts extremely quickly, for when you’re already halfway up the mountain and need immediate pain relief. Combining these two is a great way to manage knee pain.
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