A long distance charity hike is an exciting thing to do and a great way to raise money for charity. However, it can be a very challenging feat that can really take a toll on your body – especially your knees.
The constant pounding of hiking for many hours and days can really cause wear and tear on your knees joints and can potentially cause serious injury. At the end of the day your knees will be tired and inflamed from too much more. Your knees are a sophisticated mechanical device and they can wear out if they are overworked without proper care.
It is very important to take good care of your knees so that you can complete a long distance charity fundraising hike challenge event without causing them serious damage. Here are some tips that you should keep in mind for caring for your knees while on a long distance charity hike:
Knee Care Tips
- Build up to the long distance hike gradually by hiking increasingly longer distances, so that your body and your knee joints can get used to the activity. Don’t try to attempt the hike without any training.
- Before you start your walk at the beginning of the day, do some leg stretches so that your muscles will be limber and ready. This will improve your gait and reduce your risk of knee injury.
- Do exercises to build muscle and strengthen your legs. When you have strong leg muscles they will be able to take the pressure off your joints and handle more of your body weight by themselves, which means less strain on your knees.
- There are a lot of exercises that you can do to improve your leg muscles, including riding a stationary bike, lunges and step-ups.
- If you are overweight, try to lose weight and reach a healthy body weight for your height. Did you know that for every pound of weight you lose, there is four times less stress and pressure on your knees?
- As well as reducing your body weight, make sure that you reduce the weight that you are carrying on the hike. Take a look at everything that you have packed in your bag and ask yourself if you really do need to bring it with you.
- Try to plan hikes on soft soil or dirt rather than concrete or hard surfaces, which will be easier on your knees.
- Rather than doing several hours of exercise on Saturday and remaining sedentary for the rest of the week, it’s much better to get regular exercise throughout the week so that your knees can stay supple.
- Make sure that you are wearing high quality hiking boots and that they do not cause your legs to tilt inward when you are stepping, as this can cause a lot of strain on your knees.
- When you stop hiking at the end of the day, elevate your legs and rest for a while. This will allow blood to flow away from the legs and prevent inflammation and swelling.
- Bring along some ibuprofen with you so that you can reduce any inflammation while you are on the hike.
- An ice pack can also be very helpful to alleviate pain and bring down the swelling in your knees. Apply an ice back for 15-20 minutes at the end of the day while you are resting.
- You also might find that wearing a knee brace is helpful, as well as using hiking poles.
- Hiking downhill is when you will do the most damage on your knees. Make sure that you never lock your knees when you are heading down a steep hill. Keep your knees flexed and walk down at a steady and slow pace. Make sure that your feet are planted securely before putting your weight on them and really take your time.
- It is also helpful to zig zag down a steep hill rather than going straight down, as this will ease the strain on your knees.
- If you can, try to plan hikes that do not include a very steep downhill section. Or, make sure that it is at the end of the journey so your pack will be lighter because all of your food will have been consumed.
Keep these tips in mind so that you can take good care of your knees on a charity trek!