You don’t have to be an extreme athlete to overdo it, says John D. Kelly. You simply have to surpass your fitness level, which is common at an age when most of us are trying to squeeze more fun into less time. Typical maladies include patellar tendonitis (sharp pain below the knee), Achilles tendonitis, and mild arthritis (often in front of the knee).
Prevent Your first clue is often a twinge or ache right after you stop for a break. Next, you’ll feel pain while you hike. Then you’ll feel it all the time. Change your gait, cut pack weight, rest, and do the hurdler’s stretch to loosen hamstrings. For superstiff knees, stretch quads by lying on your stomach, wrapping your ankle in a T-shirt or ACE bandage, and pulling gently toward your glutes.
Soothe RICE and anti-inflammatories
Strengthen For Achilles: Start stretching and doing calf raises (toes on a stair or piece of wood) daily one month before your hike. For knees, build quad strength with lunges, squats, and single- straight-leg raises.