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How to Protect Your Knees When Hiking Downhill

Hopefully you all are getting outside and going for some hikes. While hiking uphill feels great, works your backside and increases your heart rate, walking down the other side can cause some serious knee pain. Walking, or even worse running, downhill can really stress your knee joints. Here are a few tips on how to protect your knees when headed down an incline.

Wake up your VMO - The VMO (vastis medialis oblique) is the muscle that keeps the knee cap tracking correctly. It is the inner part of your quads and soccer stars like Davids Beckham, have nicely developed VMO's. It is a lazy muscle so you have to wake up the VMO by giving it a little pat, smack or flick. I know it sounds crazy, but it works.

Zig-zag - Instead of walking straight down the incline, try going in a zig zag pattern. Making your own personal switch backs significantly decreases the pressure on your knee joints. Plus if you are wearing a pedometer, walking this way will probably double the amount of steps you take on your descent.

Try walking backwards Walking backwards gives tired muscles a break since moving this way uses the opposite muscle group of walking forward. Make sure to twist your head around to see where you are going and do alternate the shoulder you look over - you don't want to tweak your neck just looking to one side.

If your knees are bugging you after a vigorous hike, try rolling out your IT Band.


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lindaloo lindaloo 9 years
Going downhill is so much more stress on your knees than going up.
mymaria mymaria 9 years
I just saw a Man vs. Wild and Bear gave the same tip about going down steep downhills, doing the zig zag. Something I would have never thought of but makes sense! Thanks for the informative post. I have bad knees so it's always good to find new ways to strengthen the muscles around them!
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