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