Jul 18, 2005 at 3:22 pm #1216395
Have just started backpacking. Went on my first overnighter last weekend. The trip uphill was OK….however, coming downhill, my knees started to feel week and wobbly. Is there anything I can do,besides going up and down hills more to get my knees into shape? I’m down to a 15-pound pack now and don’t feel “comfortable” going with anything less than what I’m bringing. I’m 56 and in average shape – I walk each day. However, I’ve learned that going up and down hills uses a different set of muscles.
Thanks for helping out a newbie….Jul 18, 2005 at 3:42 pm #1339193
Are you using Trekking Poles? Amongst their other benefits, they permit you to gradually apply your combined body&pack weight to your lower body.Jul 18, 2005 at 3:42 pm #1339194
@david_bonnLocale: North Cascades
A lot of people find trekking poles help a great deal for this situation.
Proper footwear and insoles also can make a huge difference with respect to knee problems. Figuring out what “proper” footwear is for you can take some time, though. If there is someplace near you that offers the Phil Oren Fitsystem (google for “Phil Oren”) that might be a good shortcut.
This also depends a lot on much of a downhill you are talking about. A steep, rocky downhill of five thousand feet or so will leave even extremely strong hikers limping.Jul 18, 2005 at 5:46 pm #1339196
Ken HelwigBPL Member
@kennyhel77Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
trekking poles make a HUGE diference. Have done hikes with and without and I always feel soooo much better when I use trekking poles on downhill and uphill. Also the type of terrain that you are hiking comes into play as to how much stress is being placed on your knees.
oh and sometimes I like to stow my poles away on level hiking ground for a break.Jul 18, 2005 at 6:07 pm #1339197
I agree with Paul and the others. No matter the weight of your pack and the rest of the equipment, Trekking Poles can make quite a difference in your comfort level and the affects on your knees.
I am sure that Paul will particularly agree about the problems of terrain particularly here in the east which can include a lot of rocks, tree roots, etc. And depending upon where you hike as an example in the Adirondaks, and I would presume the White and Green Mountains, you may have such things as ladders, and other nice obstacles.
The trekking poles will not only take a lot of stress off your knees both climbing and decending, but will also contribute substantially to improve and maintain balance.
If you can deal with some of the new offerings you can purchase some very light poles. In particular if you can deal with a non adustable length pole, you can get something such as the new $95.95 (including shipping) Gossamer Gear Carbon Fiber Lightrek Plus poles http://www.gossamergear.com/cgi-bin/gossamergear/Lightrek-Trekking-Poles.html
Paul can comment on the Gossamer Gear poles. If you want more expensive non adjustable poles they are available here on BPL and there are many adjustable poles available as well.
You can read the reviews of trekking poles here on BPL at http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/trekking_poles_review_summary_and_gear_guide.html
RichJul 18, 2005 at 8:59 pm #1339203
If your knees are just wobbly, that’s one thing. If you are feeling specific pain below, on, or above your knee cap you might benefit from a ChoPat type of knee support strap.
-G$Jul 19, 2005 at 8:00 am #1339214
Thanks everyone for your input. I will definitely give trekking poles a try. I’ve used them in skiing – alpine and nordic.
Not to sound too dumb, but is there a specific TECHNIQUE to using trekking poles in going downhill?Jul 19, 2005 at 8:18 am #1339216
Perhaps i’m mistaken, but i don’t know that there is a “proper” technique. Seems to be pretty much common sense or intuitive. Never really thought much about it. It seems to come pretty naturally w/o a lot of thought. Plant the pole first. Then gradually load it with body/pack wt as you step down. Sometimes a bit of wt. is placed on the pole b/f stepping down. This might be accomplished by leaning on it a bit. If there’s anything else to it, it’s transparent to me.Jul 19, 2005 at 8:19 am #1339217
Some of this will tend to be or become natural and second nature. When hiking up hill people tend to lean forward (center of gravity shifted forward). For adjustable lengthed hiking poles, they should be shortened when going uphill and leaning forward. For poles without adustability, you should tend to grab the poles a bit lower on the shaft and/or grip.
For downhill, most people tend to lean back a bit (center of gravity shifted backward). Poles with adjustable lengthed poles should be lengthened when traveling downhill and leaning backward. For poles without adjustability, you should tend to grab the poles higher on the shaft and/or grip.
When walking and taking a step forward the left arm would move forward when the right leg moves forward and vice versa with the right arm and the left leg. Using the trekking poles, in the sequence mentioned above, tends to maintain balance and support on as many as four points at any time.Jul 19, 2005 at 8:26 am #1339219
Thanks Paul and Richard.Jul 19, 2005 at 9:28 am #1339224
Thanks everyone for your input. I will definitely give trekking poles a try. I’ve used them in skiing – alpine and nordic.
Not to sound too dumb, but is there a specific TECHNIQUE to using trekking poles in going downhill?Jul 19, 2005 at 12:11 pm #1339234
It may be trite, or obvious, but use the straps of your poles to support your weight. Do not grab the poles themselves in some sort of ironman grip, which will only fatigue and wear out your hands.
The way I do it – and I suppose there are variants – is to put my wrist downward through the loop, then bring my hand up around the side of the strap so that my hand is now above the strap, and my fingers are curling around the pole and my thumb is around the strap. Cumbersome to describe in text, but fairly common and easily explained at your nearby REI or ski store.
Finally, I used to change the height of my poles depending on whether I was going uphill (shorter) or downhill (longer). I’ve since grown lazy about it but it’s worth considering.
-G$Jul 19, 2005 at 12:40 pm #1339236
The prev. poster espoused the usual technique for gripping trekking poles – a very good technique actually. I used this technique for some time using older trekking poles.
However, some of the newer CF poles (those from GossamerGear & BMW) do NOT come with wrist straps. There is provision to add some lightweight (e.g., Spectra) “keeper” cords. However, these should NOT be used as substitute wrist straps. Their function is to keep one from loosing them should one loose grip on them.
I have been using GossamerGear LightTrek (and also the new “Plus” poles) for some time now. I do NOT find the lack of wrist straps at all a disadvantage. Can’t say that my forearms/grip fatigue in the slightest even after an entire day of hiking. Many others, i’m sure, can testify to the same experience.Jul 19, 2005 at 7:59 pm #1339260
Really? No fatigue without using straps? Interesting. I wouldn’t have thought it. I guess we both learned something today. Thanks PJ.
-G$Jul 19, 2005 at 11:51 pm #1339266
Just remembered. A while back I thought about why there is no forearm/grip fatigue when using the strapless GG poles, I mentioned in my prev. post in this thread.
Can’t be sure ’bout this, but this is what seems to me to be the reason, in my case.
When using these UL poles (~4.7oz per PAIR – WITH trekking baskets installed), I don’t have to grip very tightly at all when swinging them forward. Therefore, my forearms & hands get to rest a bit with each stride/fwd swing. I realized that my grip is actually quite loose on the forward swing of each pole – making the spectra “keepers” a good idea (but, having said that, i haven’t drop one yet on the forward swing).
Anyone else feel the same? Another reason why they work w/o any fatigue? Disagree?Jul 20, 2005 at 12:18 am #1339268
I believe that the forearm fatigue tends to come from grasping the trekking poles tightly whether they are heavier poles or the new 2.5 to about 3 oz Carbon Fiber Poles. I think with a light grip and particularly with such light weight poles, we are barely putting any stress on our muscles, ligaments, tendons, and skeletal structure.
I know that when I grasp tightly I will feel stress and some pain at times in my wrists and forearms from either hiking poles or other objects but in my case this is as a result of 2 formerly broken wrists. Therefore for me, I tend to use a light grip on my poles and only use a tight grip when I have to catch my balance or I have to put a fair amount of weight on the poles.
RichJul 20, 2005 at 1:06 am #1339269
I guess we agree on the reason for lack of forearm/hand fatigue.
I might also add that even when placing wt. on the pole, my grip is not surpremely tight. Just tight enough to keep my hand from slipping. The very fine grips on the GG poles are not only soft, but seem to have a high coefficient of friction, making a less forceful grip necessary in order to prevent the hands from slipping when loading the poles. This is as compared with my prev. Leki Ti Super Makalu poles – which had fine grips, but the cork was a bit “slippery” (NOT that the Leki grips were all that slippery, mind you, just that the GG poles are less so than the Leki).
[Note: for any wondering why we mention forearm fatigue: w/o gettin’ techinical here – the muscles for finger “gripping” are located in the forearm, not in the hand.]Jul 20, 2005 at 8:45 pm #1339313
These come in fixed lengths. Again, not wanting to sound like too much of a “newbie” – is there a certain method used to determine the correct length to get?
Or is simply as easy as get the length that feels most comfortable to me? If they were adjustable, I know some people shorten them for ascents, and lengthen them for descents.
What’s the correct “all the time” length?
Thanks to all who reply.Jul 20, 2005 at 9:02 pm #1339314
Michael MartinBPL Member
@mikemartinLocale: North Idaho
Checkout GG’s FAQ page for sizing info…Jul 21, 2005 at 8:06 am #1339341
Thanks Michael. I must have missed it when I was on their internet site.Jul 27, 2005 at 5:20 am #1339554
It sounds to me like you need to do some exercises to strengthen your knees. The best I have found is straight leg raises with ankle weights. Lie on your back with one leg bent, then raise the other leg 6 to 8 inches. Hold for a count of 5, lower and repeat. I have worked up to doing 15 reps with a ten-pound weight. In addition, you should consider doing lunges, squats, and seated leg raises.Jul 27, 2005 at 8:52 am #1339560
if i understand correctly the exercise suggested, the stated leg lift exercise will:
actually exercise the quads isometrically (involves no movement or contracture/shortening of the muscle(s) involved), & in part involves the knee joint, although statically,
will exercise the hip flexors isotonically (involves movement, or contracture/shortening of the muscle(s) involved – and, upon the “return” motion lengthening of the muscle(s) involved).
[Note: contracture, as used here, refs to just the concentric portion of a contraction when the muscle shortens against the load and not the eccentric portion of the contraction when the muscle lengthens against the load – e.g. when returning to the starting position of the rep.]Jul 27, 2005 at 10:48 pm #1339626
john flemingBPL Member
I put my hand up through the strap loop.The strap goes up the palm.The pole is held with the thumb&index fingers,or gripped with the hand as needed.
see this page
http://www.personal.dundee.ac.uk/~pjclinch/Welcome.htmAug 2, 2005 at 8:37 pm #1339844
Before my last hike, I did wall-sits twice a day while brushing my teeth (easier to remember to do it then)for a few weeks before the hike. I think it helped a lot, though I still had a little trouble with one knee it wasn’t nearly as bad as usual. This stregnthens the quadriceps muscles and probably some pelvic girdle and abdominal muscles. In the past working out at the gym on leg extension machines has helped a lot, but no gym membership now. Of course hiking poles are a must for me too. I’d be in sorry shape without them. Patti
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