Exercise! - Any backpackers and serious hikers...need help!

10-11-2011, 02:17 PM
Hi there!
So this weekend I finally learned the difference between walking and hiking! I always thought I was a decent hiker....boy was I wrong :D

This weekend we did a "big hill" in the catskills. We did a total of 14miles and went up a total of 4400 feet. Boy, I'm glad I was starting to get in shape! It paid dividends. But, I also realize I have lots to learn!

Anyway.. hubby also realized he's a bit out of shape. He needs to work on the uphill, which we understand that he needs to work on cardio exercise and some leg work, such as squats.

For me, I'm the opposite. Uphill was allright. I do need some more cardio work, but I did allright. My issue is with downhill. I understand this to be needing to strengthen my calves, ankles, hamstrings etc. My knees started to bother me right at the end of the descent. Which makes me happy, in the past they would've been aching the first day!

We have done a bit of research on some exercises to do. For me it's some leg lifts, squats, lunges, one site encouraged fast walking or running. I can't really run, but I can walk faster.

Any other suggestions or guidance would be lovely! We really enjoyed backpacking and would love to get better at it. It was very thrilling to wake up in the middle of the forest, have breakfast, pack up and find a new site later that day.
Thank you! :hug:

10-11-2011, 02:26 PM
Anything to work your quads will help with going up OR down hill. I'd also recommend some trekking poles. They're a bit of a pain on the way up, but knee savers on the way down.

10-12-2011, 12:20 AM
Ahh I LOVE hiking! So awesome you got to do such a great hike recently.

I am like you- the descent can really hurt my knees. I'm only 25, have never been overweight, but have a knee condition and bad joints (thanks Mom and Dad! ;))

Building up the muscles around your knee helps to shift the burden from your joints to your muscles. It also helps stabilize the knee joint. Like you said, squats and lunges are great for engaging the lower body.

I don't really think running or fast walking would do much. Those are not weight-bearing activities that build the muscle. I'd focus more on strength training.

A good pair of hiking boots that stabilize the ankle are key as well. There's a lot less strain on your joints when you have a solid boot holding your footing in place. If you plan on doing a lot of hiking, I would absolutely invest in a good pair of boots!

Have you thought about a knee brace? I sometimes wear an ace bandage sleeve on my knee when I run. It helps a lot.

Ice and ibuprofen afterwards helps to calm the inflammation.

Lastly, listen to the pain. Sometimes it may tell you to back off... perhaps ask someone to carry your pack, go slowly, take a rest, or stop early (I know sometime that last option isn't possible if you are descending to your next overnight, or back to the car). Sometimes the pain isn't just about not being in shape, it's actual wear and tear on the joint that shouldn't be exacerbated.

Good luck!

10-13-2011, 06:53 PM
Thank you guys!
indiblue: Thanks for the feedback. I am planning on getting a better pair of boots. I have thought about a knee brace, but I probably would've only worn it for the last hour since I didn't feel pain up until then.
I think I will work on some strength training for now. I'll bring a knee brace with me next time and see if I need it. It will probably wait until the spring until we do a major trip again. We may do a quick hike here or there, but nothing like we did for another 6 months.

Thank you! I will add lunges to my routine. I'm also planning on adding some ankle and calf work as well to see if I can improve those as well.