With the 180 miles of greenways in the Raleigh area there is no shortage of great places to go hiking. Hiking can be an excellent workout, but it is important to take the proper precautions to avoid joint pain.
Choose the proper footwear
The use of proper footwear is crucial to avoid discomfort and injuries. Even on a well-manicured trail there may be rocks, hidden obstacles and slippery surfaces that can lead to knee or ankle injuries. Wearing a properly fitted, well-cushioned shoe will help ease the pressure on your joints.
Lighten your load
No matter your age or fitness level, walking downhill causes a lot of stress on the knees.. The use of a hiking pole or stick can help reduce the impact of the force on the knees by allowing some of the load to be redistributed to your arms and shoulders. Another strategy is to lighten your backpack.
Take your time
You may be tempted to rush through your hike, especially when you are experiencing pain, but increasing your speed will intensify the force and stress on your knees. It is important to walk at a slow, steady pace and keep the knees flexed.
Stretching is key
As with any activity, stretching your joints before and after a hike is important for better range of motion and flexibility. The muscles most engaged while hiking are your shoulders, hips and leg muscles, so it is imperative to focus on these areas, as well as any other areas of weakness you may have.
These tips can help you avoid injuries and enjoy the great outdoors. If you experience ongoing pain, however we recommend a visit to one of our orthopaedic specialists for further evaluation.