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Knee Pain When Walking Downhill

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How To Avoid Knee Pain

Knee Pain Hiking Downhill? – Technique to Save Your Knees

Pain in the knees after hiking is not uncommon. Especially when hiking downhill, the stress on the knee joints is high. Those who already have problems or pain should be especially careful. But prevention is also important for an untroubled hiking experience. We show you the right technique for the descent and some tips for relief.

Pain in the knee is usually due to overloading. By the way, even experienced mountaineers and tour guides are affected by this from time to time. This is due to the human anatomy, because the entire body weight rests on the knees when going downhill it even increases several times.

Structure Of The Knee Joint

To start, lets dive shortly into the structure of our knees.

The knee is a complex joint made up of the thigh bone , shin bone , and patella . The latter is found in the front of your knee. This joint is connected by a series of ligaments, tendons, and muscles which provide stability and prevent excessive movements.

The knee joint has all the muscles it needs to remain very strong and stable. but as a persons body weight increases, goes through normal wear and tear while aging, or has a previous knee injury, the demand on the articular cartilage of the knee also increases thus creating knee problems.

When descending, the persons body weight is transferred from the quadriceps muscle to the hamstrings, which puts more strain on the joint. In addition, going downstairs requires the person to bend their knees more than normal, which also leads to a painful knee experience, if they arent training properly.

How To Avoid Getting Knee Pain From Going Down Stairs

If you have been sitting or laying still for a while, the lubrciants in your knee might have dried up leaving you feeling stiff and sore. However, bending and stretching the knee for a few minutes before going down the stairs can make the knee feel more comfortable.

Introducing a few stretches into your daily routine can help improve strength in your knees, giving you the proper support for going down the stairs.

Try a Step-Up Stretch:

  • Leading with your strong leg climb up a singular step, bringing your bad leg onto the same step.
  • Climb down onto the floor, leading with your bad leg first and then bring your good leg down afterwards.
  • You should repeat this for several minutes a day.

Some people find heat therapy works by placing a hot water bottle onto the knees to relieve muscle pain and stiffness. Whilst others suggest cold therapy using ice to reduce inflammation and relieve joint pain make sure to wrap the ice in a towel to avoid damaging the skin.

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Outside Knee Pain When Running Downhill

While regular hill running is great for the runners fitness, it can often cause inflammation to the ITB. If you are experiencing outside knee pain when running downhill you may have symptoms of Iliotibial band syndrome. This injury is also commonly known as IT band syndrome, ITB syndrome, or ITBS.

Iliotibial band syndrome, unfortunately, is one of the most common overuse injuries runners experience. It usually occurs when the iliotibial band gets tight or inflamed from overuse or extended periods of running downhill.

If you find you have outside knee pain when running downhill it is important to rest and see a physiotherapist or masseuse that can help loosen up the surrounding tissue.

However, the discomfort you feel is coming from the iliotibial band. The iliotibial band is a thick band of connective tissue that travels from the hip down to the outside of the knee. And once this gets tight or inflamed, it will start to cause pain around the outside of the knee.

Breaking Down Boot Construction

Pain In Back Of Knee When Walking Downhill

There are several elements of hiking boots that you could consider when purchasing a new pair, but the two biggest ones are support and fit. There should be enough cushion in your boot so that when you strike the ground, your boots absorb some of the impact and reduces the stress that would go to your knees. If the lug patternthe rugged rubber on the bottom of the foot that provides tractionlooks worn down, then your boots likely arent supporting you or your knees enough. Enough traction also means you are less likely to have a fall that injures your knee.

The best boot you can buy is the boot that fits. Boots that dont fit correctly will likely result in joint or ligament pain, so its important to make sure your boots support your whole foot. Your toes shouldnt feel crowded or swim around in a spacious toe box. Pay attention to the arch as well With every step, hiking boots bend at the ball of your foot, and so the arch of your foot should match the arch on your boot. Anything that affects your natural gait or correct hiking form could put you at risk of injury.

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Why Do My Knees Ache Downhill

Q) I have recently started getting a sudden pain in the front of my knee just below my knee cap when walking the kids to school and when I go for a run a couple of times a week. The pain happens when I walk or run down hills and I find I am going down the stairs like my Gran, one step at a time because the pain can be so bad. My friends have said it is my ligaments or my cartilage and the GP said that its probably wear and tear, to take Ibuprofen and to lose some weight. I have already lost a stone but the pain is getting worse and the Ibuprofen doesnt help. What can I do? I dont want to end up like my mum who cant walk far without constant pain in her joints.

A) Pain in our joints that occurs while we are moving is usually caused by a mechanical problem within the joint. Most problems occur because the joint is not staying in its proper alignment so things catch or rub causing pain and/or inflammation.

If you would like to book a FREE 10 minute check up to see if we can help you with this or any other joint problems please contact our reception team on 01706 819464.

It May Be Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

One of the most common knee problems is patellofemoral pain syndrome , and you’ll feel this acutely when you’re walking uphill or climbing stairs. This condition, also called runner’s knee or hiker’s knee, can cause knee pain when walking downhill or down stairs, according to Mayo Clinic.

“When we run, the tibia and femur move, which puts pressure on the kneecap,” Dr. Okubadejo says. “When too much force is placed on the kneecap, the tissue can become irritated, thus causing pain around the patella.”

Similarly, walking uphill requires repeated bending and straightening of your knee joint which causes the patella to rub against the femur.

While they symptoms of PFPS occur at your knee, the problem might originate at your ankle or hip. Muscle imbalances and foot arch position can contribute to kneecap alignment.

Fix It

Treating patellofemoral pain requires a visit to your doctor or physical therapist. For the first few days, your doctor might advise you to rest your knee from aggravating activities, ice it for 15 to 20 minutes every few hours and possibly take anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen.

When the pain subsides, you’ll work on exercises to strengthen the quadriceps, the four muscles in your thigh which help to stabilize the knee cap .

A small percentage of patients do not respond to therapy and may need to have a surgeon resurface the underside of the knee cap.

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When Will My Knee Feel Better

People heal at different rates. Your recovery time depends on your body and your injury.

While you get better, you need to take it easy on your knee. That doesnât mean you have to give up exercise. Just try something new that won’t hurt your joint. If you’re a jogger, swim laps in a pool instead.

Whatever you do, don’t rush things. If you try to get back to your workouts before youâre healed, you could damage the joint for good. Don’t return to your old level of physical activity until:

  • You can fully bend and straighten your knee without pain.
  • You feel no pain in your knee when you walk, jog, sprint, or jump.
  • Your knee is as strong as your uninjured knee.

Causes And Risk Factors

Treatment for knee pain hiking downhill in Beaverton, Oregon

Chondromalacia patella occurs when there is:

  • Abnormal kneecap positioning
  • Muscle weakness or tightness around the knee
  • Too much movement that involves the knee

Individuals who are at risk of getting chondromalacia patella include people who:

  • Had an injury, dislocation, or fracture that is related to the kneecap
  • Exercise often such as bicyclists and runners

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Resistance Training With Slow Contractions

Walking lunges, reverse lunges, kettlebell deadlifts, and single leg ¼ squats are excellent exercises if you have difficulty walking downhill. Training for downhill hiking requires that you perform some lower body exercises with a slow descent. For example, while performing a walking lunge, you should lower your knee of the back leg toward the floor with a minimum 2-4 second count. You can stand back up in a quicker controlled pace. This article provides a structured and effective leg workout where you can apply the slow training strategy. This unique training technique is helpful for strengthening leg muscles to minimize or eliminate knee pain while walking downhill.

Use The Trail Features

By using the features of the trail like rocks, roots, and natural step features, you can reduce stress on the knee going downhill. Studies have shown that the forward step down exercise increases knee pressure. The increased pressure causes more force through the knee joint, which often leads to pain going downhill.

This video is a typical trail scenario that shows a forward step-down. The arrow will highlight when a lot of hikers feel pain, and it is often when the knee is most bent. However, this is not always the case, and you may have pain anywhere in the lowering phase.

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Common Causes Of Inner Knee Pain

There are a variety of causes of inner knee pain. Many of them can be linked to an injury. Some of the most common incidents that cause knee injury and pain include falls, sports injuries, or increased activity.

Adults particularly those older than 60 are most likely to experience knee pain. However, inner knee pain can also occur in children and adolescents.

According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, the most common causes of inner knee pain in children are:

  • patellar subluxation

Try Not To Fear Falling Over

Shooting Knee Pain Only When Walking Downhill : Acl Tear Symptoms / If ...

Many of us try to control ourselves too much on the downhill section literally stopping ourselves with every step, meaning that those quads are working even harder. This is especially true if we fear falling or damaging our knees. Ironically this fear makes things worse.

Webb explains that there are ways to combat this fear, including surveying the terrain to understand whether you really need to stop immediately.

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What Causes Knee Pain Walking Downhill

The main reason your knees hurt when walking downhill is pressure! Compressive forces are bearing down on you, and your knees know it. When going downhill, youre adding more strain to that knee joint to take on the extra weight from the downhill hiking.

However, theres lots of other causes that contribute to experiencing knee pain from that added pressure.

These are some of the main contributors to knee pain while going downhill:

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What Causes The Pain On The Outside Of My Knee While Hiking Downhill

If youre having knee pain, youre going to want to know what causes it. Knee pain is primarily due to the immense about of force your body is placing on your knee and surrounding muscles while hiking.

When youre hiking downhill youre going one leg at a time in front of the other. When your leg is in front, its taking the full impact of your body. But not only that, its taking the full impact of your body plus the additional forces of heading downhill plus the weight of whatever pack youre carrying.

And this can be a lot of weight. One study found that the force placed on your knee joint while walking downhill can be as much as 7 times your body weight for males and 8.5 times the body weight for females. Other studies have shown less , but either way its a lot more force than youd typically put on your knees.

So, is it really surprising your experiencing knee pain while hiking downhill? If your knee joint isnt prepared to handle forces much higher than your body weight, pain is to be expected.

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What Is This Knee Pain When Going Downhill

I can hike uphill practically all day. However as very soon after I start a descent, pain builds on the outside of my knee. What is causing this and can I do anything to prevent/mitigate it ?

Edit: I talked to my doc and the location of the pain is very important in the cause. Note that this is pain on the outside of the knee specifically, as opposed to pain in the knee or below/under the kneecap.

  • I have just completed a 20 km walk called the Tongariro crossing. Its in new Zealand. Lots of steps going up and also going down. Did a reasonable amount of pre training by walking flat and steep.up and down. I was in severe pain on outside of both knees coming down hill. Steps were negotiated sideways and using a pole and one at a time. Slowed progress to a point where you may well be spending a night out in the bush if distance was any longer and daylight shorter. Looks like the correct preperation is the only answer. I am an active 66 year old and never had this before. Thanks for the advic user9177Mar 30, 2016 at 3:04
  • 2I’m voting to close this question as off-topic because this question can be answered with “go see a doctor” and thus meta.outdoors.stackexchange.com/questions/744/ applies

There are specific exercises and stretches that will work to prevent the injury. Specifically you have to stretch the band itself and build the muscles above the knee

Pain from excess force on the downhill would usually present below or in the kneecap, not to the side.

Knee Pain When Running Downhill Heres What It Could Mean

Relieve Knee Pain When Walking Up or Down Stairs and Hills

Knee pain when running downhill is a common occurrence within runners. Often this is caused by stress placed on the joints and muscles while running downhill. You see, as you run downhill, the quadriceps control the breaking and acceleration, which ultimately guides the tracking of the knee. Unfortunately, if the quadriceps or muscles surrounding the knee are weak, you may find you start to experience some pain.

However, if you experience knee pain, it may not only be the impact causing the problem. So let us look at the main factors that can cause knee pain while running.

Weak muscles. To help the kneecap track correctly it is important to have strong supportive muscles surrounding the knee. Having weak or underdeveloped muscles will cause twisting or a pulling motion to the knee cap when you run. This will cause incorrect tracking of the knee, which can then cause pain when running downhill.

If you experience this issue, start adding some gym-based strength training to your program. Doing so can help strengthen the surrounding muscles.

Exercises such as leg squats can help you strengthen muscles around the knee and help you analyse how the knee tracks under load.

Foot Landing and mechanics. Foot strike and biomechanics can cause additional stress to the knee during both flat and downhill running.

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Mechanics Of Downhill Walking:

Walking downhill requires the muscles at the front of the thighsthe quadricepsto contract eccentrically, meaning they work as the fibers lengthen. Consider the standard dumbbell biceps curl: During a concentric contraction, you lift the weight by bending your elbows and your biceps shorten. As you lower the weight back down and extend your elbows so they are straight again, your biceps contract eccentrically as they lengthen as help you control the weight rather than letting gravity pull the barbell to the floor.

The Right Technique For Walking Downhill

For the correct walking technique when going downhill, one thing is important above all: stay loose! If you are cramped and anxious, you make yourself stiff. This is not only bad for your knee joints, but also increases the risk of falling.

Try to take small springy steps not long hard steps. Moving downhill in a loping, almost prancing motion puts the least stress on your joints. It also reduces the risk of slipping such an uncontrolled jerky movement is especially bad for your joints. Bend your knees slightly with each step.

You should place your foot on the heel, then roll it over the middle of the foot and the ball of the foot.

Your upper body should point forward when walking downhill. The often observed backward position puts additional strain on the knee joints and you will fall backwards more easily if you should slip away.

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