Hiking becomes better with practice, and with time you get to enjoy your sessions without much of the endurance part. You enjoy increased momentum and seem like you can continue your form forever until…… you sustain a knee injury.
Don’t fret at all. Knee injury is very common with hikers and is considered the major bane that could put you out of your stride and keep you away from the trail for days, weeks or months. The severity of a hiking-influenced injury can be mid and temporary to severe and long-lasting. Many factors influence knee injury; some are natural lifelong habits and practices that have become part of us. These could be the style of seating, posture and even walking.
So does this mean knee injury is inevitable as a hiker? Not really. You can defeat knee injury and do so permanently if you implement knee-strengthening exercises. A number of exercises are designed to strengthen the knees and the surrounding leg muscles so that they become stronger for strenuous hiking. Even if you often fail to maintain appropriate posture or make some mistakes that could increase your knee injury risk, the appropriate knee exercise can significantly launch a good counter.
The 5 Best Knee Strengthening Exercises as a Hiker
Knee exercises have overtime to be excellent for hikers, and there are many of them you can start doing today to start building your knee strength. This guide highlights the best knee exercises designed for hikers so you can master pressure much better. These exercises strengthen your entire leg so they can handle the weight of your backpack and other loads.
So without further ado, here are the five knee-strengthening exercises you can try.
Hamstring Curl with Resistance Band
Hamstring curls with resistance bands are a great exercise for building hamstring strength. To do this exercise, you will need a resistance band and a sturdy object to anchor the band to. Start by anchoring the band around a sturdy object at about hip height. Then lie down on your back with your feet through the loop of the band.
Curl your legs up towards your butt, keeping your knees straight. Return to the starting position and repeat for 12-15 repetitions. This exercise can be done three times per week as part of a knee injury prevention program. Strengthening the hamstrings can help reduce the risk of knee injuries and help you stay active and pain-free.
The Glute Bridge is a simple yet effective exercise that can be performed at home with just a few pieces of equipment. The exercise works to Strengthen the knees by working the muscles and ligaments that support them, as well as the muscles of the buttocks and lower back.
The glute bridge can also help to reduce knee injury by improving the range of motion and flexibility. To do the exercise, start by lying on your back with your feet flat on the ground and your knees bent. Then, raise your hips off the ground, using your Glutes and hamstring muscles to lift.
Hold for a few seconds at the top of the movement, then slowly lower your hips back to the starting position. Repeat for 10-12 repetitions.
The Glute Bridge can help increase blood flow to the knees, reducing inflammation and pain. For these reasons, the Glute Bridge is often recommended for people who are looking to improve their knee health.
Regular exercise is crucial for maintaining joint health, and the Step-Up exercise is an excellent way to strengthen the knees. This move works the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes, all of which are key muscles for knee stability.
In addition, the Step-Up exercise can help to reduce the risk of a knee injury. By strengthening the muscles and connective tissue around the joint, this exercise can help to prevent debilitating conditions such as osteoarthritis.
To perform the exercise, stand in front of a sturdy chair or ledge. Place one foot on the chair, and then press down through the heel to raise your body up. Try to keep your weight evenly distributed between both legs as you raise yourself up. Once you reach the top of the movement, pause for a moment, and then slowly lower yourself back down to the starting position.
For best results, perform three sets of ten repetitions on each leg. Remember to maintain good form throughout the movement, and be sure to stop if you experience any pain or discomfort. With consistency, the Step-Up exercise can help you to achieve strong, healthy knees.
Lunges are a great way to strengthen the knees and make them stronger. By doing this exercise regularly, you will not only be able to improve your knee strength, but you will also be able to improve your balance and coordination.
In addition, lunges help to stretch the muscles and tendons around the knee joint, making them more flexible and less likely to be injured in the future.
To perform a lunge, simply stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and take a large step forward with one leg. Bend the knee of your front leg and lower your body towards the ground. Push back up to the starting position and repeat with the other leg.
Remember to keep your upper body upright throughout the entire movement. You can also hold dumbbells in each hand to make the exercise more challenging. Start with three sets of 10-12 repetitions on each leg and work your way up as you get stronger.
Wall squats are very simple exercises that anyone at any fitness level can do. They’re also very effective in strengthening the knees.
Stand with your back against a wall and your feet shoulder-width apart to do a wall squat. Bend your knees and lower yourself into a squatting position until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Hold this position for 30 seconds to 1 minute, then slowly stand back up. If you have knee pain, start by holding the squat for just 10 seconds before slowly standing back up.
As your knees get stronger, you can increase the duration of the squat. Doing 3 to 5 sets of wall squats a few times per week can help to make your knees stronger and reduce your risk of injuries.
Tips to Prevent Knee Injury
While knee exercises are powerful and very effective, you should also not push your luck by engaging in knee-threatening activities. There are major steps you can take to also care for your knee while strengthening them with the right exercises. With the right tips, you can successfully remove most of the pressure that your knee carries when hiking. So here are some tips to prevent knee injury.
Wear The Right Shoes
Hiking is a great way to get some exercise and enjoy the outdoors, but it’s important to wear the right shoes to support your body weight and protect your knees. Shoes with good arch support and cushioning help take some of the weight off your knees, and they can also prevent you from slipping on wet or icy trails.
If you’re planning on doing a lot of hiking, it’s worth investing in a pair of hiking shoes or boots that are specifically designed to support your feet and ankles. We have considered the best hiking shoes you can wear in several of our articles. These boots and shoes provide the best arch support and ensure you have a worry-free while enjoying the scenery.
Take It Slow When Starting Out
Hiking is a great way to get some exercise and fresh air, but starting slowly is important to prevent knee injuries. As a new hiker, your body isn’t used to the demands of walking uphill for extended periods of time. As a result, your knees have to work harder to support your body, which can lead to pain and swelling.
However, if you take things slowly at first, your body will gradually get stronger and more efficient. Your muscles will become more accustomed to the strain of hiking, and your knees will adjust to the demand. As you build up your endurance, you’ll be able to hike faster and further without pain. So don’t be discouraged if you find yourself moving slowly at first – it’s all part of the process!
Use Trekking Poles for Extra Stability and Balance
While a good pair of hiking boots is essential, trekking poles can also be a big help, especially when it comes to your knees. Trekking poles support the knee and take some of the weight off of it. They also provide better cushioning, which can help to reduce impact and prevent knee pain.
Additionally, trekking poles can help to improve balance and stability, making it easier to keep your footing on uneven terrain. Whether you’re an experienced hiker or just starting out, investing in a good pair of trekking poles can go a long way in making your hikes more enjoyable.
Rest When You Need To
One way to reduce knee pain when hiking is to take breaks throughout the day and give your knee a chance to rest. This will remove pressure and tension from the knee joint, giving it a chance to recover from the stress of daily use.
Additionally, ice can help to reduce inflammation and pain. Applying an ice pack for 15-20 minutes several times a day can help numb the area and relieve discomfort. Finally, it is important to maintain good posture and alignment. This will help to distribute weight evenly and prevent undue stress on the knee joint.
By taking these simple steps, you can help to reduce knee pain and keep your joints healthy.
So with the right exercises, your knee will become stronger and adapt more to the pressure and tension required for long-term hiking. This guide has revealed 5 of the best exercises you can try to strengthen your knee to tackle the many risks of getting injured. It is not just all about the exercises, though, which is why you also have suggested tips you should adhere to decrease knee injury risk.
You will enjoy a lasting and successful hike by performing these exercises and implementing all the required knee injury prevention tips.