Too often I hear the comment that when hiking in a place like Grand Canyon, the first part of the hike will be easy because it’s all downhill. This is so far from the truth! While you may not be exerting your cardiovascular system, you are working muscles you never even knew you had, not to mention pounding on joints that you kind of need for the rest of your life. Couple that with a 30+ pound backpack and you will be willing to trade the knee pain for a slap in the face by a prickly pear cactus. There are many ways to get ready for that long downhill hike which we have been so kind as to provide some information in our article My Knees Never Hurt Before, or the award winning Hiking Downhill is Exercise. But since we have a knee fetish and want to be certain they are with you the rest of your life, here is even more info and a couple simple Yoga moves to add to your training regimen.

A common hiking injury is Patellar Tendonitis. The patellar tendon begins beneath the kneecap and attaches to the shinbone. This tendon is stabilized by your four quadricep (anterior or front thigh) muscles that are connected to your patella, also connected by tendons. Weak and/or tight muscles, coupled with the constant jarring that occurs when hiking or running down hill with little consciousness of using your muscles to help lighten the impact, can lead to inflammation of the tendon – thus causing discomfort and pain.  Of course leading to a miserable hike for you and your hiking buds.

A Chair pose is a leg strengthening pose that develops foot and ankle stability, core and quad strengthening all in one simple pose! Just as it is aptly named, you sit back like you are about to sit in a chair, but you don’t sit because there is no chair there.

  • Stand with your feet together, toes spread and try to plant your feet evenly on the ground (not too much weight on either your heels or balls (of your feet you dirty bird).
  • Engage your core muscles and lower your gluteus maximus (butt) towards the floor like you are sitting back in a chair, keeping your chest lifted. If you look down at your toes and can see them, you are good. If not, move your butt back a bit more so you can see your toes.
  • Reach your arms over head and reach for the sky. Lengthen your arms as if you could actually touch something but keep your shoulders away from your ears. Kind of like if you were in the wild west and were being held up in a wagon train robbery.
  • Hold this posture for 5-7 long, deep breaths and repeat 3-4 times.

A Crescent Lunge will test and improve your balance, stabilize your knees and ankles and strengthen your quads, hamstrings (posterior or back of your thighs) and butt.

  • From a standing position, step your right leg forward and bend the right knee, lowering your torso towards the ground while keeping your back leg straight.
  • Your front foot should be flat while your back foot should have all five toes pressed into the ground while the heel is lifted up.
  • Lift your chest up and raise your arms overhead – long and strong.
  • And like every time you exercise, hold your core in tight to protect your back (holding your core does not equate to holding your breath, you are supposed to be able to breathe when practicing Yoga).
  • Hold for 5-7 long, deep breaths and switch to your left side. Then repeat the full sequence 3 times.

So there it is! Some Yoga to improve your hiking, or just to improve. Short, sweet and you can do this standing in line at the Department of Motor Vehicles, grocery store, airport or while waiting for your meal while on a date.