Last Updated: January 29th, 2020

Ouch! I cannot take it anymore. How to deal with hiking knee pain? Surprisingly, you are not the only one and there is a lot you need to take care of.

It is not simply having a better boot like  Columbia Newton Ridge Plus Waterproof Amped Hiking Boot or a lighter backpack like OUTLIFE Hiking Lightweight Backpack It is much more than that. This post covers everything you need to deal with your hiking knee pain.

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How To Deal With Hiking Knee Pain

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Causes of Knee Pain

Knees and your legs carry your entire body weight. However, they are the ones who are most neglected and end up in pain.

There can be various reasons for hiker’s knee and here are some of them:

  • Tendonitis
  • Sprains
  • Muscle Strains
  • Bursitis
  • Cartilage Tears
  • Arthritis
  • IT Band Syndrome
  • Weak Glutes
  • Tight Hip Flexors
  • Foot Wear
  • Hiking Downhill

Of these, Muscle Strain or Sprain will go away easily after some time.

However, things like Arthritis are here to stay.

So, you have to find a way to work around this problem.

Also, some hikers get this pain when hiking downhill. They need to follow special precautions.

How To Deal With Hiking Knee Pain?

Preparing Your Knees Before The Hike

As we all know:

Prevention is better than cure – Unknown

So, let’s check a couple of ways in which we can prepare our knees for a hike.

The first thing that comes to my mind is Exercise. It makes your body strong and prepares it for the upcoming hike.

Here, our focus is to strengthen the leg muscles and the muscles around our knees.

We also, have to make our knees flexible for a better range of motion.

Here are some good resources that will get you started in the right direction:

 

Muscle GroupExercise Resource
QuadricepsThe 6 Absolute Best Quads Exercises You Can Do
Hamstrings10 Highest-Rated Hamstring Exercises
CalvesThe 15 Best Calves Exercises of All Time
IT band7 Exercises to Treat and Prevent IT Band Syndrome
GlutesHere are the 19 Best Glute Exercises and Workouts of All Time (The Definitive Guide)
Hip FlexorStrengthen and Stretch: Hip Flexor Exercises
CoreThe Best Exercises for Core Strength

It’s not enough to strengthen the leg and knee muscles. You have to make your knees flexible as well.

This video will give you step-by-step instructions on how to stretch your knees.

Tackling Knee Pain During The Hike

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1. Have a proper shoe:

The importance of having a proper shoe is underestimated. If you have a properly fitted shoe, you will save your feet from a lot of hassle which in turn will save your knees.

Choose a shoe with proper cushioning and which is lightweight.

This will absorb the impact when your feet strike the ground. This will take away the reverse force that affects the knees.

There are a lot of extremely nice boots out there. One of our favorites is Columbia Women’s Newton Ridge Plus Waterproof Amped Hiking Boot

2. Reduce The Weight You Are Carrying

Orthopedic Surgeons says that every 1 unit increase of weight, will put a pressure equivalent to 10 units on your knees.

Means:

1 KG increase of Weight = 10 KG pressure on your knees

So, try to make your luggage as light as possible.

This starts with your backpack and ends with your boots. If you have to invest some extra bucks for purchasing a piece of lightweight equipment, do that. 

It will be cheaper than getting your knee treated by Orthopedic Surgeons.

You should start by choosing a lightweight backpack. One of the best in the market is OUTLIFE Hiking Lightweight Backpack

Then there are jackets, pants, toiletries…you get the idea.

3. Downhill Precaution

Moving downhill puts a lot of load on your knees.

It will put a pressure equivalent to almost 8 times of your body-weight.

When you start hiking downhill, due to gravitational force, your pace is increased.

To maintain balance, you tend to hold yourself back. This puts additional stress on your knees.

Put a brake only as much required and to the minimum. If you do it too much, you will end-up injuring the knees.

4. Keep Your Leaps Minimal

When hiking, keep your leaps minimal. Landing hard on your heels will further stress out your knees.

This is especially true if you are hiking downhill. Here a well-cushioned shoe can make a lot of difference.

5. Use Trekking Poles

Many hikers think that a trekking pole is useless. However, if you want to protect your knees then, they are essential.

They help you to distribute your weight evenly between the poles and your legs.

This way, your knees have to carry less burden.

However, we do understand why many people think that the poles are useless.

They break often. To avoid this, you should ideally go for carbon fiber and aluminum mixes like Montem Ultralight Carbon Fiber Trekking Poles or something made out of Aluminum 7075 (military grade) like TrailBuddy Trekking Poles

They will share the load with your knees.

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6. Use Knee Braces

If you have weak knees then the knee braces can stabilize them.

You have a lot of options to choose from like sleeves, support and stabilizers.

Ask your doctor, which one is best for you.

Also, if you have just recovered from a knee injury, please limit the distance of your hike.

Starting small will help you get adjusted before you can go for longer hikes.

7. Turn To Mother Nature

There are a lot of herbs that can help you with the pain during your hike.

They are natural ingredients and are less harsh on your body and will have no to minimal side effects.

Let’s check them out:

Willow Tree Tea

This tree is common on the trails and has a lot of medicinal properties, along with painkilling

The bark of the tree contains acetylsalicylic acid and helps in reducing the pain.

This is also the chief ingredient of Aspirin (aka the painkiller you get in drug stores)

Don’t know how the tree looks? Here is a picture for your reference:

Willow Tree

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Once you have identified the tree, make a cut of about 2”x 3”.

You will understand if you have done it right if you can see the pink inner layer come off with the bark.

Then infuse it in hot water for 20 min and then sip it like tea.

Do it for a maximum of 3 times. You will get relief.

But don’t overdo it. Acetylsalicylic acid like Aspirin can give you a bleeding stomach

Wild Lettuce

WARNING: They are extremely bitter

Wild lettuce also known as opium lettuce is a natural pain reliever.

It doesn’t belong to the opium family but gets its name due to its pain reveling nature.

It is tall and has dandelion-like flowers. The stem secrets a milky substance once if you run your nail through it.

Wild Lettuce

You can either directly consume the latex-like substance or infuse it in hot water for 20 min and sip it.

Making a tea out of it and drinking is very hard due to its bitterness.

However, either way, it works fine.

It can quickly relieve pain and you can have it up to 3 times a day.

Burdock Root Tea

This is also very popular among the hikers. 

The flowers of this plant are like balls and they stick to your pants when you walk among them

Burdock Root

You can make tea out of its root and drink it 3 times a day.

The effect will not be as quick as above but is also effective in soothing the pain.

8. Take Some Medicines

Also, in certain situations, regular medicines will come handy.

You can use Advil, Motrin, or Aleve. However, I’m not a doctor.

Consult with your physician before purchasing any of the medicines.

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Preventing Knee Pain After The Hike

After the hike, you may face swelling and knee pain. This is what you should do.

Still In Pain? This is what you should do…

Let’s say you have taken all the above precautions and did a good job with stretching and using herbal tea.

Still, you are facing problem. Then you can use the RICE technique. Which is Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation? You can read more about it in RICE Therapy For Knee Pain from EVERYDAY HEALTH.

However, if you are still in a lot of pain, then visit a physician immediately. He will be able to help you with your knee pain.

Over To You

What techniques you use to deal with hiker’s knee pain. Let us know in the comment section below.

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