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Like to Hike? Protect Your Knees!

A long hike can take a serious toll on the knees. The uneven terrain, rock slabs and sharp descents can punish knee joints, and produce swelling and stiffness that can linger well after the outdoor adventure ends.

Cutting down on the compressive abuse the knees endure can help alleviate post-hike pain and protect cartilage. Hikers and backpackers can spare the knees the effects of an outdoors adventure and help improve their longevity by practicing a few simple steps.

Carry less weight. Cutting down on the weight of your backpack can reduce up to 40 pounds of downward pressure on your knees. Keeping fit and your body weight in check will also help lower the knee stress.

Use trekking poles. This can reduce the compressive forces on the knees by as much as 25 percent. But always use two poles. Relying on one pole can increase the pressure on the unaided knee.

Wear properly fitting shoes with quality insoles. Inserts that typically come with most footwear offer little shock absorption help when out on a nature trail. Moreover, many inserts found at both pharmacies and outdoor gear shops may not stand up to prolonged hiking. Therefore, you should consider a more rigid type of insert made of plastic and dense foam, which can carry you for hundreds of miles.

Source: Appalachian Mountain Club

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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