Hiking Techniques to Help Avoid Common Injuries

By July 24, 2019 May 1st, 2020 One Comment
Woman on hiking trail in the mountains

Use these simple hiking techniques to ensure you have a great time on the trail injury free!

This time of year, we get questions about hiking techniques, equipment, and how to best avoid injury.  Here are just a few tips for your next hiking trip!


  • Shorten your stride on uphill sections to save your hip flexors, pushing up on toes, propelling yourself upward with your calves.
  • Loosen your chest strap if carrying a backpack for better breathing capacity


  • Shorten your stride on downhills to keep your center of mass over your lead foot and avoid slip outs
  • Don’t lean back, don’t lean forward.  Keep your center of mass over your feet to avoid slips and back pain.
  • Plant your foot with your knee slightly bent to avoid heavy impact.  If you have more knee pain on descent, you may benefit from Strength Training with our Wellness Center’s ARX machines or Closed Chain Functional Rehabilitation with a physical therapist.
  • Tighten backpack straps to avoid it shifting, throwing you off balance on your descent.

General Hiking Tips

Lace your shoes properly to minimize blisters that are produced by foot movement in the shoe.  Here is a link to a helpful how-to video: How to Lace a Hiking Boot

Use trekking poles to lighten the impact on your knees and increase your balance.  Here is a link to All Things Trekking Poles

Striding out on uphill or downhill sections of the trail can lead to slip outs, muscle fatigue, and even injury.  Shortening your stride will maintain a center of mass more directly positioned over your leading and trailing foot positions and minimize those risks.  For those of you who like to read research, here is an article breaking down the positive and negative work of each foot during single leg and double leg stance while hiking: Mechanical Work of Hiking Uphill and Downhill



“I took a walk in the woods and came out taller than the trees.” – Henry David Thoreau

Jesse Dunn DPT CSCS

Jesse Dunn DPT CSCS

Jesse graduated from Eastern Washington University in 2017 with her Doctorate of Physical Therapy. Prior to graduate school, she graduated North Dakota State University with a degree in both Exercise Science and Psychology. Jesse has been a certified personal trainer since 2007 and a Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach with the National Strength and Conditioning Association since 2010. She enjoys working with all types of patients, especially helping athletes of all ages return to optimal performance. She uses a combined approach of manual therapy and exercise to help patients return to the activities they love. When she’s not working, Jesse enjoys biking, gardening, and exploring the outdoors. “I have been an injured athlete, trying to stretch, exercise, and tape myself out of an injury without success. That’s where manual therapy comes into play. I have been practicing fascial counterstrain for over a year now and notice more benefits with this technique than any other. Some things you can’t do yourself, and that’s when coming in for manual therapy can help you.”

One Comment

  • Appreciating the time and effort you put into your website and the in depth information you offer. It was such a most valuable concept that how we can hike more. Nice explanation and you have pointed out some valid points exceptionally well. It will surely help beginners update their knowledge. Looking forward to seeing you soon in a new post. Thanks for your help!

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