Sore knees are one of the hiker's most common plagues. Heavy packs, tough terrain and long miles combine to place high levels of stress on the knees, and hikers often compensate by consuming large quantities of pain relievers. There are ways to combat knee problems, however, and to keep joint pain from slowing you down on the trail.
Step 1: Wear appropriate footwear. Hiking boots do more than protect your feet--they also provide cushion and support for your joints, including ankles, knees and back. Invest in quality hiking boots, and consider having them professionally fit for extra protection.
Step 2: Use trekking poles, especially on the downhill. Sturdy, carbide-tipped hiking poles allow you to take some of the initial load through your arms, saving your knees the impact of stepping downhill. You may find that trekking poles increase your average speed, as well.
Step 3: Take advantage of momentum on downhill hikes, but don't lose control of your stride. Keep steps short and precise, and watch the ground to avoid unsure footing. Make each step a smooth transition of your body weight, rather than a jerky impact.
Step 4: Keep your pack weight low. While minimalist hikers do this by nature, many weekend trekkers pack unnecessary "luxuries." These items may make camp life more pleasant, but if you are prone to knee pain, the weight trade-off may not be worth the comforts.
Step 5: Anti-inflammatory medicine like ibuprofen can be used in moderation to combat inflation on the trail. Always carry a well-prepared medical kit with pain or anti-inflammatory medication, as well as athletic tape.
Article Written By Greg Johnson
Greg Johnson earned his Bachelor of Arts in creative writing from The Ohio University. He has been a professional writer since 2008, specializing in outdoors content and instruction. Johnson's poetry has appeared in such publications as "Sphere" and "17 1/2 Magazine."