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How to Hike With Bad Knees

The weather is starting to cool off, and now's the perfect time to go hiking. Not only will you avoid overheating when trekking it up the mountain, but you may even get to see hints of the leaves changing colors. Don't let bad knees, keep you off the trail. Here are some ideas that could help you and your knees to keep on hiking:

  • Have someone else carry your gear for you. Even though a little pack may not add a ton of extra weight, downward force on your knees can reach eight times the weight applied, so even five extra pounds can add 40 pounds of pressure to your knee joints. Ouch.
  • Get a pair of trekking poles. Two poles can take weight off your knees when climbing up steep terrain, but they're especially helpful for slowing down your steps when going downhill. They can decrease the amount of pressure on your knees and other joints by 25 percent.
  • Make sure your shoes offer exceptional cushioning so your joints aren't jarred with each step. That means hiking boots may not be the best choice, and you may want to wear your running sneaks instead. Adding insoles may also help — opt for a sturdy and rigid style instead of a squishy one.

For more helpful tips


  • You may benefit from wearing one of those tight elastic knee braces that offer compression support to your knees.
  • Avoid moving in a straight line, especially when going downhill. Zigzag your movements to decrease the pressure on your knee joints. You'll also ending taking extra steps, which will lengthen your hike, but will also end up burning more calories. You can also give your knees a break by walking backwards.
  • If your knees are really aching, stop and elevate them. Applying an ice pack can help reduce inflammation and pain (you should keep one in your first-aid kit). If you don't have ice, cold water from a stream or snow will work beautifully. But who wants to start thinking about snow just yet?


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