Sightseeing while on holiday makes for great exploration and memories. But while walking is usually great for your knees, you can have too much of a good thing. All those hours of being up and about can stack up, resulting in knee pain from walking too much. Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to protect your knees and treat them if they start acting up.
What causes knee pain from walking?
Walking shouldn't cause knee pain unless you have an injury or a medical condition (like arthritis) affecting the joint. Our joints are made for movement, and walking is extremely beneficial for knee health. It helps move vital nutrients into cartilage that doesn’t have a blood supply (aka avascular cartilage). It also keeps your leg muscles strong and your tendons flexible.
However, a sudden and drastic increase in activity (like walking for 4 hours straight when you usually only walk a couple of hours a week) can overwhelm some tissues in the joint. Couple that with insufficient rest, and you may develop an overuse injury like patellar tendonitis, Iliotibial band syndrome, or patellofemoral pain syndrome.
Learn more: What Can Cause Knee Pain Without Injury?
How to avoid it
To reduce your risk of knee pain from walking ruining your holiday, try the following:
Get walking in the weeks leading up to your trip. If you haven’t walked much before, start with a 30-minute walk 4 times a week, and add a few minutes every week till you hit an hour. Even if you don’t walk much further than that, your knees will still get more accustomed to the process than they would otherwise.
You can also add a few knee-strengthening exercises to your workouts. Lunges, squats, glute bridges, and calf raises work all the different muscle groups supporting the knees, making them more resistant to fatigue and letting them act as better supports for your joints.
Wear running shoes
A pair of runners are best for the job (provided they’re not too worn out). They’ll have a good amount of cushioning in the heel to soften your steps and arch support to assist the natural roll of your foot. Pick a pair that isn’t too stiff or tight around the toes. Stiff shoes can make it harder for your foot to roll correctly, and tight toe boxes prevent your toes from naturally stretching out with every step.
If you want to head out in fancier footwear, our Run Performance Insoles have all the benefits of a good pair of sneakers, with the addition of proprioceptive spots that will stimulate the muscle for increased stability.
If you feel your knees are getting agitated on a long trek, sit down and let them rest. You should also try organising your holiday schedule to avoid too many long walk days. Even though walking isn’t that strenuous, your muscles and tendons will still need time to recover to be at their best the next day.
Do some stretches after a long day on your feet
In terms of warding off knee pain, stretching relieves muscle tension in the legs and keeps your heart rate up. With your knees receiving a bigger supply of oxygen and nutrients, they’ll be quicker to recover.
Try some of these post-leg-day stretches: Top 5 Stretches to do After Leg Day
Try a knee support
Sports Compression Knee Support
It might seem like overkill to get a knee support for walking, but it can help you in a few key ways. For example, the compression knit of our Sports Compression Knee Support will:
- Activate the muscles around your knees, improving your proprioception and helping them support your joint.
- Reduce muscle oscillations, which are the uncomfortable vibrations that shoot up your leg when your foot hits the ground. With less shock to absorb, your knees can walk longer distances without pain.
- Boost circulation, ensuring your hardworking muscles and tendons get the needed oxygen and nutrients.
How to treat knee pain from walking too much
Similarly to avoiding knee pain in the first place, you should:
- Wear supportive shoes when you need to walk to reduce stress on the knees.
- Rest. Your body is good at healing minor damage, but not when you keep making it worse. Take a couple of days off long-distance walking and gradually work your knees back up to it. Pay attention to how these joints respond to certain distances, shoes, and movements, and adjust as necessary.
- Ice and elevate your knees. Overuse injuries result in inflammation, which you can manage by applying an ice pack and propping your feet above heart level for a few minutes daily.
- Brace. Bracing is especially important for knee pain and injury recovery. First, an injured knee needs extra support to minimise strain on the irritated tissues. Second, when you’re in pain, nerve signals get interrupted. Your muscles can’t activate as well as they usually do, increasing pressure on the joint. And third, as we mentioned, inflammation often accompanies overuse injuries. Like our Sports Knee Support, the GenuTrain Knee Brace incorporates compression knit fabric to activate the muscle and boost blood flow to injured tissues. It’ll also reduce the formation of edemas, your body’s inflammatory agents. And last but not least, it’ll help relieve your knee pain through its special gel patella pad, which acts with the compression knit to massage away soreness.
GenuTrain Knee Brace
To sum up
Holidays are hard work, especially for your knees. But through proper conditioning, support, and planning, you can minimise your risk of getting knee pain from too much walking. And through bracing and the RICE method, you can get the pain under control and still enjoy the rest of your trip.
Explore more walking supports: Hiking Supports
If you require assistance selecting the right product for your needs or wearing the brace, call us on 1300 668 466 or contact us via live chat.Do you have private health? Most private health extras will cover Bauerfeind Products. Check to see if yours is included. Bauerfeind Private Health Insurance Inquiry.