As an active and avid hiker, there is nothing more distressing than feeling pain in your knee each time you try to hike the nature trails. That is until you’re told by your physicians that you may have to get a knee replacement for any possible old or new injuries. While it may seem like your exercise days are over, your doctors may advise you otherwise.
But can you still go for a hike with a knee replacement? Surprisingly – yes, you can, but it may take you longer to complete a route, and you’ll have to take extra precautionary steps for your hike.
For hiking enthusiasts, this is great news as you can soon be rid of knee pains, and most importantly, you wouldn’t have to give up your love for hiking even after your knee replacement. So, what are the things to look out for when hiking after a knee replacement? Let’s find out.
5 Tips When Hiking With a Knee Replacement
Knee replacements are no longer a rare thing today, affecting more active athletes more often than you would think. Hikers are often vulnerable to knee pains, especially since you’ll have to put more pressure on your knees during climbs and descend. As such, you may be worried if you can no longer hike after a knee replacement.
Thankfully, this isn’t the case for avid hikers. With proper care and preparation, you too can get back to hiking with a knee replacement. Here are the 5 things to watch out for when hiking with a knee replacement to ensure you have a safe excursion on your favorite hiking trails.
Try Avoiding Downhill Hikes
Although many people may worry about the pressure of uphill hikes, it’s the downhill climbs that will likely injure your knees. This is as your knees must bear the brunt of your body’s weight and your belongings from the hike as you go downhill, causing it to strain and hurt in the long run.
For anyone who has had a knee replacement, this would mean putting extra pressure on your knees as you’re going downhill. Therefore, it’s always advisable to avoid downhill hikes after you’ve had a knee replacement. If you must go on a downhill route, be sure to walk slower to reduce the stress that may be put on your knees.
Use a Hiking Stick to Relieve Pressure on Your Knees
To help you on your hike after a knee replacement, you may also consider bringing along a hiking stick or ski pole. These added accessories should help alleviate the stress that is put on your knees, ensuring you don’t strain them more than necessary.
Lightweight walking sticks with a rubber stoppers are also often recommended as they can provide you better support during your hike. You may also use your walking sticks to maneuver through slippery trails, ensuring you have a safe excursion.
We recommend using a lightweight, adjustable hiking stick like this one by Cascade Mountain Tech. It offers a strong grip, great stability, and the height can be adjusted to your personal preference.
Don’t Carry an Overweight Bag
When you’re looking to hike with a knee replacement, it’s always best to pack light. Bring only the necessities on your trip, as an overweight bag can cause your knees to buckle from the weight. This can cause pressure to your knees, making it detrimental if you have just recovered from a knee replacement.
Carrying a reasonably weighted bag is not only good for your knees, but you may also notice it’s better for your back in the long run. If you’re traveling with a hiking partner, you may also consider sharing the weight to ensure you will both protect your knees along the way.
Wear Appropriate Shoes That Give Good Support
As a hiker, there’s nothing more important than finding a good pair of hiking shoes that can provide you good support. This becomes even more evident when you’ve had a knee replacement, as a pair of good hiking shoes can help cushion your weight and the way your soles hit the ground.
When picking out hiking shoes, it’s recommended to avoid shoes with heavy soles as you’ll have to exert more energy to move them along. For anyone who has previously had a knee replacement, this could mean more pressure needed to complete your hike.
Avoid Hiking Alone in Case of Emergencies
If you’ve had a knee replacement and you’re still keen to hike, then it’s recommended to always hike with a group or a partner. This is as you’ll never know when an emergency arises or if your knee begins to hurt. It’s always best to avoid hiking alone even if you’re healthy, but you should take extra precautionary steps if you’ve had a knee replacement.
Are Your Hiking Days Over After a Knee Replacement Surgery?
Although a knee replacement surgery may sound like a serious condition that can dampen your hiking experience, the good news is that your hiking days may be far from over. This is as many hikers today have either known someone with a knee replacement surgery or have undergone the procedure themselves. It has, however, not stopped them from hiking again.
Instead, many hikers may advise you to speak to your doctors on how you could accelerate your recovery period. With proper care and rehabilitation, you could see yourself putting on a pair of hiking shoes for a walk on your favorite trail again. So, what can you do to help make your recovery better after a knee replacement?
There are a variety of factors that could go into your recovery so you can go hiking again. These include changing your diet as suggested by your physician, doing proper rehabilitation exercises, and having ample rest. After all, while you may be excited to hike the trails again, it’s always important to allow your knees to recuperate.
Exercises to Help Strengthen Your Knees
Instead of hiking, you could also look into various exercises to strengthen your knees after a knee replacement surgery. Below are some of the recommended workouts you should consider if you’d like to stay active after a knee replacement surgery without putting too much stress on your knees.
As with most workouts, it’s always recommended to speak to your doctors before engaging with any of these exercises. This is to ensure it doesn’t come between your rehabilitation programs, so you’ll be able to get back on your feet and hiking trails sooner.
Whether it’s cycling outdoors or on a stationary bike indoors, this is a great workout that can keep you active without putting too much stress on your knees. Cycling is often considered a low-impact exercise, so you can use this as a rehabilitation method to strengthen your knees before you return to hiking.
For anyone with access to a pool, you may consider taking up swimming in place of hiking as a workout. This is as swimming exercises are great to alleviate any stress that your knees, provide comfort for back pains, and may even help train your stamina post-surgery.
Walking is a great way to help strengthen your knees post-knee replacement surgery and pre-hiking. To help relieve the pressure on your knees, it’s recommended that you begin walking around slowly before gradually increasing the pace. When you feel ready, you may then consider hiking again.
Hiking after a knee surgery is still very possible. You might need to make a few adjustments like hiking on easier trails, using a walking stick, and hiking in a group in case of an emergency.
Try performing exercises to help strengthen your knees after a surgery. Proper physical therapy is important to help get your knees back up to strength after a major surgery.
Always consult your physician before starting any physical activity that may cause stress to your knees.