After a stressful week of work, going out on a hike can sound refreshing and adventurous. But if you return with painful knee pain that could be scary as hell!
Hiking is a kind of activity that tests out the weight-bearing capacity of your knees. If you do not prepare well or not cautious enough, painful knees can result in. But, the good news is, you don’t need to fear it every time the mountains pop up on your mind.
There are lots of ways to get a grip on this painful situation. We are going to walk you through every strategic approach. How to prevent and treat painful Hikers’ knees while hiking.
Why my knees hurt after hiking?
Our knees go through a certain level of stress during routine daily chores, not to mention the time on risky trails. So, knee pain is not very uncommon in ardent hikers.
Many people complain first about it as stiffness during standing from sitting. This kind of pain usually worsens while climbing uphill the mountain or moving downhill.
According to researchers, the force on your knees joint counts as eight times your weight while hiking downhill. In addition, the force you feel on your knees is two to three times your weight while climbing upstairs.
Other hikers report having pain in the inner knees. You could have inners knees by injury or due to getting slipped on some muddy trail in the rainy season.
Here we are discussing some common causes of knee pain after hiking.
If you are suffering from acute severe pain while going downhill for a prolonged time. You kneed gets more words in hiking downhill the going up.
Hiking downhill puts a lot of strain on the muscles and ligaments surrounding your knee joint. This gives a signal of pain and joint inflammation from the untrained and ill-prepared knee.
Knee pain recovers after one or two days of complete rest and no pressure over the knee joints.
This problem usually presents with the painful, warm, swollen knee with pain occurring on the inner aspect of the knee just below the joint.
It usually happens by inflammation of a small fluid-filled sac named bursa. Which might be occurring after strenuous hiking on a rocky, unwelcoming trail.
Sharp, throbbing pain, swelling, tenderness with a burning sensation above or below your kneecap might be signs of severe tendonitis.
It results from acute inflammation or mild tear of the tendons, (fibrous band like structures) supporting the bones of the knee joint. This happens generally by a repetitive load on your knees or hiking with an already painful knee.
It is similarly painful but without the signs of inflammation like redness and swelling as it presents with tendinitis.
You may also experience some stiffness and restriction of movement due to the starting of tendon breakdown. Aged hikers with osteoarthritis are more susceptible to tendinosis.
If all of a sudden, you hear or feel a popping sensation in your knee during hiking, that is most likely due to a meniscus tear. It happens during forceful twisting your knee, particularly when you put your weight on it.
The possible timing may coincide hiking down a steep hill or kneeling downhill through any mountain tunnel carrying a heavy backpack.
Each of the knees has two menisci, which are cartilaginous discs that act as a cushion for your shin ( tibia).
If it’s torn accidentally you’ll experience huge swelling and joint stiffness. You will most likely feel the pain when bending or moving your knee during any movement.
ACL tear or damage:
An anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is a fibrous band-like structure that supports knee joint movement and protects it from regular wear and tears.
An ACL tear or sprain can occur due to sudden stoppage of the movement or change in direction of movement resulting in the excessively flexed ankle as well.
Signs and symptoms of ACL tear might look like: rapid swelling, intolerable pain, loss of ROM ( Range Of Motion), a loud ‘popping’ feeling, instability of the weight-bearing function of the affected knee joint.
Other causes of knee pain after hiking might include synovial plica syndrome, iliotibial band syndrome, patellofemoral pain syndrome, knee osteoarthritis.
Prevent knee pain before you start hiking:
For any medical injury or condition, prevention is always way better than cure. By modifying your hiking routine a little and making few changes, you can always answer the call from mountains without the fear of pain.
Choose soft and supportive footwear:
Hiking might involve uneven terrain, rocks, and lots of other obstacles on the trail. Choosing supportive and soft, comfortable hiking shoes is a must for that.
They should fit you right and provide enough cushion-like support to endure stress over your joints during hiking. Actively replace them as soon as you find them unwearable.
Stretching your limbs before hitting trails:
Warm-up for your hike with a regular stretching routine. It gets your muscles prepared. Concentrate on letting your leg muscles relax and loosen up with long stretches that provide you flexibility for tough movement of joints.
Keep the backpack weight in limit:
An unnecessarily heavy backpack puts excessive load on your weight-bearing joints like knees.
Before any hike, pack your essentials according to a strict plan. Follow a checklist to lighten your backpack. Instead of water bottles that weigh heavy even when empty, a lightweight water bladder is a way to go.
Get some good supportive garments:
Get some additional support for your knees such as knee brace. It will restrict unusual or risky joint movement or stabilize your knee cap to give you more stability and a controlled grip.
Some fervent hikers also consider kinesiology tape for more balanced knee movement.
Invest in a hiking pole:
Hiking poles are highly effective while hiking on a risky, unpredictable trail. Poles redistribution of pressure felt on knees.
Particularly, in downhill hiking, it helps to stabilize your knees by redistributing some weight on your arms and shoulders.
They act as the second line of defense, protecting you from serious injuries resulting from accidental falls on muddy, slippery trails.
Take all the time you need:
Well, slow and steady wins the race at the finishing point. You might be enthusiastic and excited enough to start too fast to cover the entire trail in lesser time.
But, it is going to do no good to you at the end except putting unnecessarily added strain on your knees and ankles.
Consider careful side-stepping while navigating steep downhill trails. It will help ease and shorten your steps, making you much comfortable.
How to Prevent hiker’s knee while on the trail
Ensure proper hydration:
It might sound funny, but this is something utterly necessary. Your muscles need water for metabolism during strenuous hiking. Dehydrated muscles get cramps easily and make you unable to move.
Poor posture and bad gait only put more stress and pressure over knees and lead to a painful hiking experience.
Consider some mid-hike stretches as well. You should try some good stretching exercises before you cool yourself down completely.
It will help your muscles relax and relieve stress. You can follow through any regular running routine coupled with some back and shoulder stretching.
Treating knee, Post hiking knee pain: Top 5 Secrets You Should Know.
If you are already there with some disturbing knee discomfort, we have got you covered. You can relieve hiking pain with some simple at-home steps. While others might require your physician’s attention.
1. How to treat Hiking knee pain At-home.
RICE (complete rest, ice pack, hot compression, and elevation of the joint) to comfort your painful knees. Give some resting time to your legs, before you consider hiking again.
Apply ice packs to your hot, hurting knees. It helps to reduce the swelling and restoration of your complete ROM (range of movement). Repeat thrice a day, each time for 15-20 minutes.
Add some tolerable hot compression aided by hot water bag, it helps in relieving joint stiffness after a cold-weather hiking trip.
Elevation of the affected limb helps to rebalance the blood flow to the painful joint and surrounding muscles and ligaments. So, keep your painful knee elevated by some cushions or pillows while you rest.
2. physiotherapy for hiking knee pain:
To retain or regain joint flexibility, planned physical therapy can help heal the inflammation and damage of the affected knee and can alleviate the pain you’re going through. A professional physical therapist can help you through this.
3. Take some OTC painkiller medications:
Conventional OTC (over-the-counter) painkiller medications can ameliorate the problems associated with the hiker’s knee, especially in the post-injury acute healing phases.
You can take some non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen in low dose for immediate relief.
And, you can always consider getting medical professional help. If you find the pain worsening.
4. Steroid Knee injections:
If the pain doesn’t respond to conventional anti-pain medications, your physicians might advise for interventional pain management systems like steroid injections. It’s most likely to provide an immediate alleviation of pain.
In maximum cases, one injection is sufficient enough. While previously diseased joints suffering from arthritis might need more. Usual response time is one day to one week and you are good to go pain-free for at least six months.
5. surgery for Hiking Knee Pain:
In case of some severe injury like fracture due to an accidental fall in your hiking trip. You might need surgery.
The goal is to repair the damage or sometimes replace the ligament or the entire knee joint (arthroplasty).
Pain is the protective mechanism of the body to protect us from extreme conditions.
So, when your knees hurt, pay attention to them before getting worse. Now, You have all the tricks and tips. You will Be prepare enough not to withhold going out on mysterious trails.
Grab your hiking gears. You are better than your fears!