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Backpacker Magazine – January 2013

Mileage Master Skills

Going the distance? Use these tips to ease big-mile trips.

by: Rachel Walker

You can do this IT band stretch in the field. (Supercorn)
Photo by You can do this IT band stretch in the field. (Supercorn)
You can do this IT band stretch in the field. (Supercorn)

Prevent High-mileage Injuries
Stop these common ailments before they end your hike.

>> Dull or aching knee pain
Cause: Walking downhill causes small tears in the patellar tendon below the knee (called patellar tendinopathy). Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome is a result of excessive wear on the kneecap itself. Both lead to persistent aches and stiffness.
Solution: Rest and elevate the joint, ice it (if there’s no snow, submerge your leg in a cold creek), and take an anti-inflammatory (like ibuprofen) prophylactically and to manage pain. It may help to wear a brace and use trekking poles to reduce joint stress.

>> Pain and stiffness in the heel and bottom of the foot
Cause: An inward-rolling gait, high arches, flat feet, a tight Achilles tendon, and ill-fitting shoes can all strain the plantar fascia, the thick tissue on the bottom of the foot.
Solution: Rest, stretch your toes and calf at least three times a day, ice the bottom of your foot, and take an anti-inflammatory. Wear heel pads, cups, or custom orthotics in your boots.

>> Tenderness on the outside of the knee
Cause: Muscle imbalances exacerbated by an unevenly weighted pack, slanted terrain, or extended hiking can cause Iliotibial Band Syndrome, inflammation of the band that runs from knee to hip.
Solution: Rest, ice, elevate, and take an anti-inflammatory. Sleep with a pillow or padding between your knees (if you sleep on your side) to reduce pressure on the IT band. Stretch daily: Lie back on a flat surface so your affected leg hangs over the edge with a 90-degree bend in your knee. Pull your unaffected leg to your chest. Keep your hips level and move the thigh of your injured leg across your midline (without rotating it; see illustration above). Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and repeat four times. Consult a physical therapist; if pain isn’t persistent, you may be all right to continue.

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Your are so right ! major knee pain on the way down from snow creek trail in yosemite in/12 3000 ft/el desent with 40# pack , level ground could not come soon enough !!!!! now I use poles/pills on long desents with heavy loads they really do help ! tks for advice.


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