Does anybody have knowledge, experience, hits, tips, tricks, thoughts or advice you can share that might shed light or help with preconditioning that is not just about climbing stairs or building cardio? I'm thinking structural mechanics here, but as a NOOB I can use all the help I can get.
Some of my thoughts and experiences:
I was reading a book called "The 4 Hour Body" a few months ago and noticed the section about pre-conditioning the body. The author said most people's bodies are unbalanced, stronger on one side than the other and that this can cause injuries. I did the tests with a trainer at my gym, and yes, my left side is definitely weaker than my right side and I noticed when I did my first 10K that the outside of my right knee bothered me. For the second 10K I did knee stretches with a theraband for a few weeks ahead of time and didn't have that problem.
I noticed that I'm always reaching with my right arm, even across my body to something on the left, yet rarely do the same with my left arm across my body. Lately when I catch myself doing it, to make an equal stretch I'll repeat with a cross-body stretch using my left arm. I also notice that when I bend over, I automatically put my weight and get the stretch on my right leg, so now I try to at least equal that out by repeating the motion putting the weight on my left leg.
I got my Vibram Five Fingers to strengthen the tendons and muscles of my feet, ankles, lower legs and have learned to have a mid or fore-foot strike and I've been working on balancing exercises, just balancing on each foot until I can't anymore, then switching. It's much harder in crocs, by the way. Then I noticed a post suggesting that when you hike uphill, you put your head down and your heels first, which I'm experimenting with now and like better than trying to land forefoot on an uphill. I read on a website talking about minimalist running shoes that proper (running?) form is to lift the knee, not push off from the forefoot, so I've started focusing on that and it feels much better on my soles. Finally, I've been experimenting with my trekking poles and am trying to find the most effective way to use them.
So, does anybody have thoughts on this or other similar topics that would be applicable to long distance hiking? I'm doing a 2012 thru-hike leaving in April, so I have about 3 1/2 months to experiment/train.