Mountaineering Training | Tips for Strong Knees in the Mountains
Categories: Mountaineering Fitness & Training
Traveling through the mountains and climbing up and down rough and uneven terrain can take a toll on our knees. Knee pain can be debilitating in the mountains and the best strategy to avoid knee pain is to actively prevent it. Prevention begins early in your training process and continues throughout the climb.
• Remember that getting up the mountain is only half the climb: you still face the entire descent back to the bottom. Keep this mind during your training and include downhill travel in your training routine in order to prepare your muscles and joints to the stress encountered in a climb.
• Build general knee strength. See this article for an example of different knee strengthening exercises and discuss the specific areas that you need to improve your knee strength with a physical therapist or trainer.
• Take care of your knees during training: don’t beat them up too much and let small irritations turn into major injuries!
On the Climb
• Be aware of the weight you are shouldering and avoid carrying extra or unneeded gear.
• Be strategic when pack your backpack: keep the heavy items towards the back of your pack (close to your body) and centered so that the heaviest weight is closest to your center of gravity and your pack sits comfortably and squarely on your frame, not pulling to one side and throwing you off balance (see more packing tips…).
• Bring trekking poles: poles are a great tool in taking a few pounds of weight off of your knees with each step and can help you protect a knee if it is feeling tired (learn more about using trekking poles…).
• Take small steps on the climb up whenever possible to avoid straining the major muscles around the knees.
• Don’t fight the descent! Take smaller consistent steps coming down and try to avoid the big jarring steps that jolt your body.
• When coming down on moderate snowy terrain and no longer wearing crampons, try keeping the sole of your foot parallel with the slope and sliding a few inches with each step downwards. These little distances add up over the course of a long descent and make the downhill feel just that much easier.
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