Hiking is a great way to get outdoors, enjoy some fresh air, and get some exercise. However, it’s also a high-impact activity that can put a lot of strain on your knees.

In fact, according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, knee injuries are the most common type of injury among hikers.

That’s why it’s so important to take steps to protect your knees while hiking. By following these tips, you can minimize your risk of sustaining a knee injury on the trail.

1. Choose the Right Shoes

Make sure your hiking shoes have good tread and provide ample support for your feet and ankles. This will help you avoid slips and falls, which can put unnecessary stress on your knees.

2. Use Trekking Poles

Trekking poles take some of the load off of your knees by spreading the impact of each step across both your upper and lower body. They also help with balance and stability, which can further reduce your risk of falling and injuring your knees.

3. Don’t Go Too Far Too Fast

If you’re new to hiking, gradually increase both the distance and intensity of your hikes over time. This will help you avoid overstressing your joints and your muscles, which could lead to an injury.

4. Warm Up Before You Hike

Just like any other physical activity, it’s important to warm up before you begin hiking. A simple 5 to 10-minute warm-up that includes dynamic stretching exercises like lunges and leg swings can help reduce your risk of sustaining an injury on the trail.

5. Take Breaks When You Need Them

If you start to feel fatigue setting in, don’t be afraid to take a break. It’s better to rest for a few minutes than push yourself too hard and end up injured.

6. Be Alert for Obstacles

Keep an eye out for obstacles like tree roots, rocks, and uneven terrain as you hike. These can be trip hazards that can cause you to fall and injure yourself. Try to stay on well-marked trails whenever possible. If you do have to veer off-trail for any reason, proceed with caution.

7. Pack Light

The lighter your backpack is, the less strain it will put on your body—including your knees. So, only pack the essentials for your hike, and leave anything non-essential at home.

8. Watch Your Footing

Pay close attention to where you place each step as you hike. This will help you avoid tripping or slipping, both of which could lead to a fall and a serious knee injury.

9. Monitor Weather Conditions

Before heading out on any hike, be sure to check the local weather conditions… inclement weather can make trails more slippery and dangerous, increasing your risk of sustaining an injury.

10. Know Your Limits

Finally, it’s important to know both your physical limitations and the limitations of the trail itself before undertaking any hike. If a trail is rated as “difficult” or “strenuous,” think twice before attempting it if you’re not an experienced hiker. It’s better to play it safe than to risk an injury by biting off more than you can chew.

Conclusion

By following these simple tips, you can protect your knees—and yourself—from sustaining an injury while hiking.

Do you have any other tips for protecting your knees while hiking? Share them with us in the comments below!