Bushwalking -- reducing impact to the knees

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Bushwalking -- reducing impact to the knees

Postby speed_pit » Wed 02 Jan, 2019 10:55 am

Hi everybody,

This is a follow-on from this topic: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=28969

I went on my first proper bushwalk 10 days ago and my elbows and knees are still hurting. I've had problems with these joints prior to t. If bushwalking is going to have this kind of impact on my joints, I would be forced to give it up altogether, which would be a shame.

I thought that a way to overcome the stress on elbows and knees would be a pole with built-in shock absorption. However, as was explained to me in the above thread, shock absorption poles will lessen impact on the arms, but not the knees. So now I'm wondering what would lessen impact on the knees. All I can think about is hiking shoes with good shock absorption in them. Can anyone recommend such shoes? If there are any other ways to lessen impact on the knees, I would be glad to hear what those are.

Many thanks!
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Re: Bushwalking -- reducing impact to the knees

Postby Franco » Wed 02 Jan, 2019 11:18 am

If you are doing overnighters, then reducing the weight of your backpack would have the greatest impact.
Or whatever weight you have that your feet have to carry.....
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Re: Bushwalking -- reducing impact to the knees

Postby Turfa » Wed 02 Jan, 2019 11:21 am

Hi Speed-pit,

Regarding cushioned shoes, you may like to look at the range of trail runners from Altra. I started using Altra Timps about a year ago and love them for their soft cushioning on very long walks. The reduction impact forces while walking is quite noticeable. Altra have a range of cushioning levels to choose from.
However, be aware that their shoes are zero drop, and that can take a little getting used to.

Back to your original question about poles. I would disagree with those who say that shock absorbing poles do nothing to reduce loads on your knees. Any poles will reduce the load on your knees as they are taking some of your body weight. You mentioned that you just used a stick on your previous walk. This will not give anywhere near the advantage of properly used hiking poles. The best thing to do would be to try some poles and see how they work for you. Research how to use them properly (especially the wrist straps) and then practice with them, as they do take some time to get the hang of. Good poles can be expensive, so maybe try to get a second hand pair or even some old ski poles to try first.
Not everyone likes poles, but I would not do a long walk without them.

Other ways to reduce impact on your knees...walk a little more slowly.

And don't disregard the importance of training. You have just done something for the first time. Your muscles and joints are not accustomed to it. It will hurt :-) Start out slowly and build up your distances. Do some strength training to help build muscle and stabilize your joints. This will all help too.
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Re: Bushwalking -- reducing impact to the knees

Postby Turfa » Wed 02 Jan, 2019 11:24 am

Franco wrote:........Or whatever weight you have that your feet have to carry.....


very diplomatic Franco : -)


A very good point though !
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Re: Bushwalking -- reducing impact to the knees

Postby speed_pit » Wed 02 Jan, 2019 11:31 am

Franco wrote:If you are doing overnighters, then reducing the weight of your backpack would have the greatest impact.
Or whatever weight you have that your feet have to carry.....


At the moment my fitness levels will only allow me to do day hikes. I do carry about 15 kilos of excess fat. :D
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Re: Bushwalking -- reducing impact to the knees

Postby Warin » Wed 02 Jan, 2019 11:35 am

Step length. Rather than walking slowly, reduce the step length.

Cushioning. You can buy cushioning inserts, they take a little room in the shoe so should be bought before the shoes so you can get the right size of shoe to go with them.

--------------
Another way to exorcise with little knee impact - bicycles. The trick here is to keep the pedals spinning rather than a slow pace. Speeds of ~ 1 revolution of the pedals per second is about right.
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Re: Bushwalking -- reducing impact to the knees

Postby speed_pit » Wed 02 Jan, 2019 11:38 am

Turfa wrote:Hi Speed-pit,
However, be aware that their shoes are zero drop, and that can take a little getting used to.


By "zero drop", do you mean heel-to-toe drop? When bushwalking, are there any benefits in having a high heel-to-toe drop? I have a pair of hiking shoes, which I can't use because they are a size too small for me, and they have a very noticeable heel-to-toe drop, so I assumed that this is needed for hiking, although I can't think of a reason why.
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Re: Bushwalking -- reducing impact to the knees

Postby photohiker » Wed 02 Jan, 2019 11:39 am

speed_pit wrote:So now I'm wondering what would lessen impact on the knees. All I can think about is hiking shoes with good shock absorption in them. Can anyone recommend such shoes? If there are any other ways to lessen impact on the knees, I would be glad to hear what those are.

Many thanks!


Hi speed_pit,

I started walking as a cub way years ago. Become a scout, hiking at school, a rower racing in the eight boat, in the Yarra in Melbourne, a rugby, and later became a regular hiker.

I have had sore knees for the last decade or so, and just put up with it for most of those years. My right knee is the worst.

For hiking, I have solved the pain in my knees in two ways together:

1) Went to a Physio, who tested my knees and ankles. They built a sole in my walking shoes that corrected the angles of my feet, and made them correct.

2) Another physio said that the problem with my knees is that they move around too much when hiking. If I was to use good tights, which are tight in my knees, the pain will be reduced a lot.

The physio suggested I find good tights, not the basic and cheap ones. Suggested several and I bought the CW-X StabiliX Joint Support Tights and now never have the pain in my knees when walking. Not cheap but works excellent.
https://cw-x.com.au/product/stabilyx-me ... ort-tights
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Re: Bushwalking -- reducing impact to the knees

Postby speed_pit » Wed 02 Jan, 2019 11:56 am

photohiker wrote:1) Went to a Physio, who tested my knees and ankles. They built a sole in my walking shoes that corrected the angles of my feet, and made them correct.


I'm also in Melbourne. I am thinking of going to a podiatrist. Or is physio the better option?

photohiker wrote:2) Another physio said that the problem with my knees is that they move around too much when hiking. If I was to use good tights, which are tight in my knees, the pain will be reduced a lot.

The physio suggested I find good tights, not the basic and cheap ones. Suggested several and I bought the CW-X StabiliX Joint Support Tights and now never have the pain in my knees when walking. Not cheap but works excellent.
https://cw-x.com.au/product/stabilyx-me ... ort-tights


Do you wear something over the top of the tights, or is it alright for guys to go bushwalking wearing just the tights?
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Re: Bushwalking -- reducing impact to the knees

Postby wildwanderer » Wed 02 Jan, 2019 12:06 pm

You may also want to consider the type of walking pole. I use one with a handle (like a walking cane) so I can push against it while descending. I find it very effective in transferring load from knees to my arms when accending and descending.

Of course if your issues are both knees and arms this may not be of benefit.

Lighter pack/shoes will help. I would consult a sports physician for exercises to strengthen your arm, legs and core muscles. A weight program significantly benefited my bushwalking.
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Re: Bushwalking -- reducing impact to the knees

Postby Lamont » Wed 02 Jan, 2019 12:15 pm

In pain after ten days-see an expert/physio.
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Re: Bushwalking -- reducing impact to the knees

Postby ofuros » Wed 02 Jan, 2019 3:47 pm

I'm starting to get knee pain from worn joints too...I was thinking along the lines of a knee brace to keep my hairy legs pumping up & down those inclines...though i haven't bought a set yet.

My packed gear is already light.

Too many years of knee abuse is catching up with me. :wink:
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Re: Bushwalking -- reducing impact to the knees

Postby speed_pit » Wed 02 Jan, 2019 3:52 pm

Lamont wrote:In pain after ten days-see an expert/physio.

I may have exaggerated somewhat. Eight days after the hike I was able to do barbell squats through the whole range of motion AND walk for 7.5 km virtually pain-free. The strong pain after the hike must have come from a long descent, which was something new to me.
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Re: Bushwalking -- reducing impact to the knees

Postby speed_pit » Wed 02 Jan, 2019 4:03 pm

As for yes or no to anti-shock, there are poles where you can yurn it on or off. I'm pretty sure the poles in the link below have that feature, although I can't find it in the description.

https://www.kathmandu.com.au/fizan-pres ... -pair.html
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Re: Bushwalking -- reducing impact to the knees

Postby Huntsman247 » Wed 02 Jan, 2019 4:18 pm

Earlier this year I injured my knees running down big steps with a 25kg pack... At the end of a 5 day trip. In hindsight it was pretty stupid...
Anyways I did my rounds of doctors as I couldn't bend my knees properly for about a month and after they kept swelling up on any overnight trips with the multiday pack.
Happened onto a really good sports physio who discovered some issues with the knees and feet.
He was against inserts as he felt that you never fix the actual problem instead I got a list of progressive stretches and exercises. Fast forward 6 months and I'm no longer flat footed and have so much more strength in my knees. Did a steep trip with a 30kg pack (had to cart water plus camera gear and wanting to test the knees) and knees felt great after.
Given the results, I think he's right. The biggest help is to strengthen your knees. The stronger the knee muscles the more strain they take off the joint.
It does that effort but it seems to be really helping.
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Re: Bushwalking -- reducing impact to the knees

Postby MrWalker » Wed 02 Jan, 2019 4:30 pm

speed_pit wrote:The strong pain after the hike must have come from a long descent, which was something new to me.

Poles are particularly useful for reducing jarring on your knees on descent.
Going up you tend to push off smoothly, so it may take an effort, but not damage your knees much.
Dropping down on each step does more damage, unless you brace yourself with poles.
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Re: Bushwalking -- reducing impact to the knees

Postby bush_tux » Wed 02 Jan, 2019 7:55 pm

Huntsman247 wrote:Earlier this year I injured my knees running down big steps with a 25kg pack... At the end of a 5 day trip. In hindsight it was pretty stupid...
Anyways I did my rounds of doctors as I couldn't bend my knees properly for about a month and after they kept swelling up on any overnight trips with the multiday pack.
Happened onto a really good sports physio who discovered some issues with the knees and feet.
He was against inserts as he felt that you never fix the actual problem instead I got a list of progressive stretches and exercises. Fast forward 6 months and I'm no longer flat footed and have so much more strength in my knees. Did a steep trip with a 30kg pack (had to cart water plus camera gear and wanting to test the knees) and knees felt great after.
Given the results, I think he's right. The biggest help is to strengthen your knees. The stronger the knee muscles the more strain they take off the joint.
It does that effort but it seems to be really helping.


What exercises did you do? :?:
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Re: Bushwalking -- reducing impact to the knees

Postby trekker76 » Wed 02 Jan, 2019 9:24 pm

I blew a knee out in the army quite badly and to still stay active 12 years later I came up with a list of things that helped. A lot is already mentioned above.

1. Get lean, an extra 15kg fat makes a big difference on bad joints. For example 108kg is my young man's weight( what I was in my 20's) and takes a lot of eating discipline to maintain in at 44 but I do it and my knees feel 'almost' problem free. As soon as I drift over 112kg(just 5% weight gain) the right one starts to feel looser and more 'gammy', I can still walk bit its prone to swelling after walks, and more painful on steep gradients.

2. Get onto a physio to assess your joints and advise which muscles to build up and improve your stability, gait and shock resistance. Muscles are natures shock aborbers , calf muscle development in particular helps reduce impact through the knee and cartilages. Also quad development adds power and stability. Try and get an experienced sports or elite athlete physio( a lot of city phsyios seeing athletes will often have regular clinics) . They specialise in getting people back into arduous sport( which ours is) not just getting you back to 'worker levels'. You don't have to keep spending money to see them. After a couple visits( usually with GP request for xrays to supplement) they can assess and give you exercises to keep doing in your own time. My exercises just for interests sake are static lunges or static leg press( holding weight or load in fixed positions without moving- reduces joint wear but still developes the muscle), slow repetition leg press, calf raises, high rep seated hamstring curls with rubber band.

3. Good shoes with the best cushioning you can. I moved away from heavy and hard soled boots as much as possible, though I am always on the hunt for good jungle boots.

4. Go ultralight or light as possible. The 'UL; guys get down to incredibly low loads and one day when my knees get older I will bite the bullet and pay the money for their fancy gear.

5. Get fit and adapt to walking before carrying any major loads. Even the army doesn;t throw packs onto recruits backs until they at a certain level of general fitness and their soft tissues are used to pack free walking and running. Aka don't use heavy backpack carrying to get into the game, or into shape. No pain, No pain is the best motto for sore joints. Or as I say "don't tackle fitness head on when you can sneak up and stab it in the kidney"

Poles, I know little about them as can't use them in my terrain but the consensus is they can make a difference.
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Re: Bushwalking -- reducing impact to the knees

Postby Huntsman247 » Wed 02 Jan, 2019 9:52 pm

bush_tux wrote:
Huntsman247 wrote:Earlier this year I injured my knees running down big steps with a 25kg pack... At the end of a 5 day trip. In hindsight it was pretty stupid...
Anyways I did my rounds of doctors as I couldn't bend my knees properly for about a month and after they kept swelling up on any overnight trips with the multiday pack.
Happened onto a really good sports physio who discovered some issues with the knees and feet.
He was against inserts as he felt that you never fix the actual problem instead I got a list of progressive stretches and exercises. Fast forward 6 months and I'm no longer flat footed and have so much more strength in my knees. Did a steep trip with a 30kg pack (had to cart water plus camera gear and wanting to test the knees) and knees felt great after.
Given the results, I think he's right. The biggest help is to strengthen your knees. The stronger the knee muscles the more strain they take off the joint.
It does that effort but it seems to be really helping.


What exercises did you do? :?:
A lot of one legged balancing/squatting/jumpingish stuff. Basically reteaching yourself how to walk properly. Stuff that's hard to explain by typing. Awkward as hell at first mostly muscle memory now. But what worked for me may not be what works specifically for you. Sport physios are the go though. Normal physios don't normally have the same amount of experience in getting someone from an injured state back up to peak condition.
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Re: Bushwalking -- reducing impact to the knees

Postby davidf » Thu 03 Jan, 2019 10:42 am

I have numerous complaints. I agree with a lot of above. Lose weight. Have a regular and maintainable exercise program. See a physio, insist on getting specific exercises for your problems, if they dont and want to do quackery walk out, dont pay and find a good one. Look at diet. Certain foods can increase inflamation. Particuarly some fish and processed food. I eat these as staples on walks but make sure I abstain prior to anything that will challenge me and after. As goes for coffee. Stretch each time you eat on a walk. Walking poles are great. Especially down hill for knees. Again with elbow problems look at them the same way. Carry as little as u can. Good luck, keep walking and working at it.
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Re: Bushwalking -- reducing impact to the knees

Postby Eremophila » Thu 03 Jan, 2019 12:41 pm

A bit obvious but... avoid "locking" your knees when walking. Easily overlooked once you start to fatigue. Also ensure your knees are not tracking inwards.
Some bushwalking clubs will rent out equipment such as walking poles, you may be able to try a couple of different models.
I do like my pole with the walking-cane type handle, as mentioned by Wildwanderer they are good for descending.
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Re: Bushwalking -- reducing impact to the knees

Postby speed_pit » Thu 03 Jan, 2019 9:24 pm

photohiker wrote:1) Went to a Physio, who tested my knees and ankles. They built a sole in my walking shoes that corrected the angles of my feet, and made them correct.

2) Another physio said that the problem with my knees is that they move around too much when hiking. If I was to use good tights, which are tight in my knees, the pain will be reduced a lot.


Huntsman247 wrote:Happened onto a really good sports physio who discovered some issues with the knees and feet.
He was against inserts as he felt that you never fix the actual problem instead I got a list of progressive stretches and exercises. Fast forward 6 months and I'm no longer flat footed and have so much more strength in my knees. Did a steep trip with a 30kg pack (had to cart water plus camera gear and wanting to test the knees) and knees felt great after.
Given the results, I think he's right. The biggest help is to strengthen your knees. The stronger the knee muscles the more strain they take off the joint.
It does that effort but it seems to be really helping.


Are any of the physios you guys went to based in Melbourne? If so, I would appreciate a PM with their details.
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Re: Bushwalking -- reducing impact to the knees

Postby speed_pit » Thu 03 Jan, 2019 9:33 pm

Turfa wrote:Regarding cushioned shoes, you may like to look at the range of trail runners from Altra. I started using Altra Timps about a year ago and love them for their soft cushioning on very long walks. The reduction impact forces while walking is quite noticeable. Altra have a range of cushioning levels to choose from.


Altra shoes are heavily discounted on Wild Earth until the end of this month. I ordered Timps and Olympus, which are even more cushioned in two different sizes to try how they fit and feel. I am still struggling with the issue of how it is possible that shoes used for hiking must extend at least 2 cm beyond your big toe, so the toes don't push hard into the shoe on descents, and at the same time prevent the foot from sliding inside the shoe.
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Re: Bushwalking -- reducing impact to the knees

Postby photohiker » Thu 03 Jan, 2019 10:42 pm

speed_pit wrote:Are any of the physios you guys went to based in Melbourne? If so, I would appreciate a PM with their details.


The Physio I have used was in Adelaide.

Have a look, there are plenty of Physios in Melbourne.

https://www.google.com/search?client=fi ... +melbourne

Look at their information and make sure they are recently tested for working on hikers on their knees and feet.
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Re: Bushwalking -- reducing impact to the knees

Postby Turfa » Fri 04 Jan, 2019 11:42 am

speed_pit wrote:
Turfa wrote:Regarding cushioned shoes, you may like to look at the range of trail runners from Altra. I started using Altra Timps about a year ago and love them for their soft cushioning on very long walks. The reduction impact forces while walking is quite noticeable. Altra have a range of cushioning levels to choose from.


Altra shoes are heavily discounted on Wild Earth until the end of this month. I ordered Timps and Olympus, which are even more cushioned in two different sizes to try how they fit and feel. I am still struggling with the issue of how it is possible that shoes used for hiking must extend at least 2 cm beyond your big toe, so the toes don't push hard into the shoe on descents, and at the same time prevent the foot from sliding inside the shoe.


I find that lacing my Altras with a heel lock makes a big difference. There is plenty or room in the front of the shoe and lacing this way holds my foot securely at the rear of the shoe and prevents it sliding forward on steep downhills. here is a Youtube video that shows the technique.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OBbc6TackDQ
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Re: Bushwalking -- reducing impact to the knees

Postby Huntsman247 » Fri 04 Jan, 2019 11:52 am

speed_pit wrote:
photohiker wrote:1) Went to a Physio, who tested my knees and ankles. They built a sole in my walking shoes that corrected the angles of my feet, and made them correct.

2) Another physio said that the problem with my knees is that they move around too much when hiking. If I was to use good tights, which are tight in my knees, the pain will be reduced a lot.


Huntsman247 wrote:Happened onto a really good sports physio who discovered some issues with the knees and feet.
He was against inserts as he felt that you never fix the actual problem instead I got a list of progressive stretches and exercises. Fast forward 6 months and I'm no longer flat footed and have so much more strength in my knees. Did a steep trip with a 30kg pack (had to cart water plus camera gear and wanting to test the knees) and knees felt great after.
Given the results, I think he's right. The biggest help is to strengthen your knees. The stronger the knee muscles the more strain they take off the joint.
It does that effort but it seems to be really helping.


Are any of the physios you guys went to based in Melbourne? If so, I would appreciate a PM with their details.
Mine is near Jervis bay in nsw.
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Re: Bushwalking -- reducing impact to the knees

Postby Eremophila » Fri 04 Jan, 2019 12:21 pm

"Lock lacing" technique is great for keeping your shoes in place and preventing the laces from loosening. My podiatrist put me onto this a couple of years back.

On some shoes/boots such as Keen, the top lugs holding the laces in place (the last one or two lacings above the eyelets) will "lock" the laces into place - I can have the lower laces a bit looser for my wide feet, but lock them nice and snug up toward the ankle. Plenty of room as my feet warm up and swell, but no sliding around inside the boot. So no need to alter your stride to compensate, with the resulting blisters/injuries.
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Re: Bushwalking -- reducing impact to the knees

Postby beardless » Mon 07 Jan, 2019 8:03 am

I had really bad knee pain after my first pack carrying overnight walk which involved a long steep relatively fast descent down a scree slope. I had sharp pain for weeks and wondered if I could continue with bushwalking.

I echo much of the advice above.

1. Go to a physio to get strethes and strength extecises specific to your issues and body
2. Build up muscle around your knee. When training for a demanding walk, I use an exercise bike one or twice a day on a hard setting for about 100 rotations. I don't usually like gyms but I had a membership for a while and the seated leg presses were also a good way to build up muscle around the knee.
3. Reduce pack weight.
4. Do recommended stretches at the start of the day and at breaks.
5. Go slower downhill.


I have done long walks with heavy loads since with very little knee pain.
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Re: Bushwalking -- reducing impact to the knees

Postby bluewombat » Mon 07 Jan, 2019 9:17 am

Two issues account for 80% of everything you can do with ageing/damaged knees.
1. maintain ideal body weight (which in walking terms means accounting for pack weight as well as trying to maintain appropriate BMI) 2. adequate strength for the task (and the research does not really support the need for specific prescription in most cases). NB you only need strength that has a use so doing full squats is not appropriate for bushwalking, where it might be useful if you are a wicket keeper

Everything else (shoes/tights/braces/orthotics/walking poles/standing on your head in the corner/holding your tongue at the right angle etc) deals with the other 20%. The body weight and strength options are cheap (although I agree pack weight is not cheap at the top end of gear), the other options can be expensive so best to use them when the other options have failed
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Re: Bushwalking -- reducing impact to the knees

Postby ChrisJHC » Mon 07 Jan, 2019 1:14 pm

bluewombat wrote:Doing full squats is not appropriate for bushwalking, where it might be useful if you are a wicket keeper


Luckily I’m both a bushwalker and a wicket keeper!
[FACE WITH TEARS OF JOY]
ChrisJHC
Athrotaxis cupressoides
Athrotaxis cupressoides
 
Posts: 298
Joined: Sat 25 Feb, 2017 8:22 pm
Region: Victoria
Gender: Male

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