View Full Version : Hiking the AT

Mtn. Pooh Bear
04-29-2003, 14:47
Hello everyone, I set out for the AT on March 11, 2003 at Springer Mountain. I made it all the way to Unicoi Gap where I sadly had to give up because of pain in my knees. I have been taking Glucosamine, MSM, and Chondroitin. I also have purchased insoles for my boots and knee braces as well as a second walking stick. I am flying back out to Tri City Tenn, to meet up with my boyfriend Mountain Dew in Damascus with hopes of finishing the trail. Can anyone else suggest any advice for my knees? Little hiker hints that I might be forgetting! Oh and I also dropped my pack weight from 45 lbs to 25 lbs. Just want to make sure I am not leaving anything out. I really want to finish then come back next year to finish the parts I left out. Thanks for any advice.

I am really excited to get back out there, the mountains are calling me.

Happy Trails! :D :D


Everyone you can follow our journey at ....
www.at2003.com (http://www.at2003.com)

04-29-2003, 14:53
Spend the non summer months doing some exercise. Walking would be good, but you have to do alot of it. Running takes less time during the day. Best of all, these two activities cost almost nothing to do (buy shoes) and can be done at anytime of the day. Since you have a pre-existing condition, see a doctor first. The general idea is to toughen the body, the joints and tendons in particular. This will provide better dividends than all the drugs and insoles in the world.

Most of the people I met last May during my section hike had knee problems. Mostly from starting too hard for their prehike activity level. The knee problems did seem to clear up after a couple of hundred miles.

04-29-2003, 14:57
Good luck! I was just reading Jan Liteshoe's journal and she swears by the Cho-pat Dual Action Knee strap. But sounds like you've thought of most everything. Happy Hiking!

04-29-2003, 18:19
Take it easy. When your knees start to hurt stop hiking. Many people push too hard at first not realizing their body needs to slowly adjust to your new physical demands. Your problem could be a serious knee injury but more than likely it is just sore because it isn't used to hiking and if you are patient and don't over-exert yourself your knees do become acclimated to it. I don't know if it is a muscle thing or what but many people experience knee pain at first but usually it goes away with time. If you are seriously hurt it will only get worse. Listen to your body and know how far to push it. OK I am done rambling now.

04-29-2003, 21:10
Talk to a physical therapist. They are very knowledgeable in knee problems and ways to get back into health. I had some knee troubles before my thru hike, and my physical therapist was very helpful in resolving the problem. I wouldn't have made it far without her help.

[You weren't looking for some "trick" to avoid talking to a health professional were you?]

04-29-2003, 22:00
Second the vote on a physical therapist post thorough exam by a orthopod....and dont overlook the swimming pool for strengthening, range of motion and in the water your are essentially weightless and if just sitting the water for an hour that is an hour where the joint can heal without any weight or stress...and last but not least are the new Cox-2 inhibitors-fancy NSAIDS that work up higher on the arachadonic acid chain to suppress prostaglandin synthesis and ultimately decrease pain...a few names are Celexa and Vioxx which show drastically reduced stomach/GI problems compared to older NSAIDS like motrin, aspirin, naproxen and others....
also the givens, loose weight from the pack, loose weight from the body, use poles, dont push so hard and smell some flowers along the way

Mtn. Pooh Bear
04-29-2003, 23:28
Thanks everyone for the helpful advice. I will definately seek the advice of a physical therapist. I have read where usually the pain will ease up after use of the muscle. I feel much more confident with the changes I have made. Just wanted to see what more experienced hikers. Thanks again!

Blue Jay
04-30-2003, 07:40
Don't lock you knees on downhills. Always keep them slightly bent. It's tough on the quads until they get stronger. The concussion of all your weight on a locked knee is incredable. Everyone wants to take a "majic pill" for everything when you can just avoid the direct cause.

04-30-2003, 10:28
My wife had terrible knee pain for a while in the beginning (Blueberry patch to Damascus almost). Changing from heavy boots to running shoes help the most.

Poles are critical for easing the stress!

Reducing the back weight is super important, but you did that.

It also depends on the type of knee pain. In the front, in the back, bending the knee, etc. The PT will tell you that...

Vitamin I is also very useful (although some prefer Aleve).

Gravity Man

Tour Guide
04-30-2003, 20:34
If you find that you're not able to resume, then I have an additional suggestion in preparing for your future return to the AT.

I've been doing section hikes, with 100-150 mile sections in a week plus for the last three years. Before my first hike, I did 500+ miles of walking with a pack, but found that my knees were killing me by the end of the first day of real AT hiking, so I don't know if walking and running are necessarily the best preparations for everyone. After that first year, my doctor recommended specific exercises to strengthen the quads and the calves, with the reasoning being that additional strength in those muscles would reduce some of work being done by the knees. Along with the exercises, I've taken some similar approaches to yours, particularly the concentration on pack weight reduction. In any case, I've had much better results for the last two years' hikes, with minimal knee pain, so perhaps this approach would help you, too.

Tour Guide

Mtn. Pooh Bear
05-02-2003, 16:51
Thanks again everyone for all the helpful advice. I leave out May 14, and I am so excited. I can't wait to see everyone at Trail Days. Happy Trails.