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Up or down?

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  • Up or down?

    I'd love to hear comments and solutions to the question which is harder on your body going up or going down?
    Personally I'm more interested in the going down solutions.

  • #2
    Going down involves a lot of eccenteic contractions, which will make you more sore the next day for various reasons. Not sur what "solution" there is except to slow down.


    • #3
      I assume you mean going up/down as in ascending or descending a mountain? I'm not a doctor but I have no problem with up, whereas down feels much harder on my knees.

      As for solutions, I've found hiking poles work wonders. They let you take a lot of the stress off your knees when descending and give yourself a boost going up, but also help with balance on rocky trails, stream crossings, etc. A few years ago I hiked the N-P Trail without poles and almost had to quit due to knee pain, and that isn't even a hilly trail. The next year I hiked the Long Trail with poles, and despite it being twice as long with about a hundred times the vertical, I had no pain. And I've had no problems since. Just an anecdote.

      Strengthening the muscles around your knees with a low impact exercise like biking or swimming probably wouldn't hurt either.


      • #4
        Whenever there is a choice in trails, I generally use the steeper route going up and the gentler route for coming down. This seems to be counterintuitive for many people, but I feel more sure-footed going up a steep slope than I do going down.


        • #5
          I second the use poles. A year ago I hurt my knee (not sure how) and had to quit hiking (even walking for a while). When I started hiking again I could climb anything I wanted...descending was nearly impossible. By using poles I have been slowly getting better.


          • #6
            Yes to trekking poles. They make a huge difference, especially going down. I find I can got a lot further every day without getting as sore with the poles.


            • #7
              Wanted to throw in my $0.02 so I joined up

              They both hurt me but if you have pain going down consider visiting a physical therapist if you have the health care to afford such.

              I had an issue a couple years back with my elbow and shoulder and I seriously thought I was going to need surgery. Doctor told me I was a wuss and I should go to PT. Didn't do it. Kept whining using that arm and was convinced the Dr didn't know what he was talking about and I was going to need surgery. Cortisone shots did nothing.

              Finally gave PT a try. Was better in less than 3 weeks.

              Moral of the story - there are muscles on your body that get SOOOO weak it isn't even funny. When this happens the joints get misaligned and cause all sorts of pain. This was my affliction. I notice it in my knees now and again - almost to the point I know I should go to a PT and get the excises to strengthen those muscles.

              And FWIW working out usually makes it worse. You strengthen the muscles that already are causing the problem and put strain on the joint.

              Evaluating the exercises you realize how weak certain muscles get, and just by strengthening them a little you can virtually eliminate pain and reduce the chance of future injury.

              I swear by this now and refuse to live with the pain. It usually is telling you something is wrong.


              • #8
                Down is much harder. Only worse factor in up is sweating (water loss).

                I have started using poles too. Didn't for years mostly because they throw off my balance somewhat, besides being an extra thing to carry. But increasing knee & foot problems made me give in -- which poles have helped with -- and they do help distribute some of the lifting or lowering effort too, esp. when tired.

                When I think of how I used to skim down rocky trails, fast, without a thought, I sigh. But what can you do?


                • #9
                  Poles it is, I will get some Ti ones, I used to hunt Ti as a profession. Definitely a wonder metal.


                  • #10
                    I was told by a friend of mine, who is an avid hiker, that ascending can be 2x your body weight stress,whereas descending can be up to as much as 7x....thats if I heard him correctly...after climbing Crane Mt in the snow a few weeks ago and then coming back down the steep way...I'd have to agree descending is far more stressful to the body..I've had back related problems for almost 4 weeks since the hike.

                    Unfortunately the problem we ran into was that the grade was very steepand covered in ice/ poles coming down were not as helpful as they could have been.

                    We took 2+ hrs to ascend...and descended in 35 minutes....not intentionally. It was a serious workout on the back and knees,without the slippery conditions the poles are a major help. I bought a decent set at Walmart for less than $30,they have made excellent help on the hikes so far where they could be used.
                    Hunt when you can, Fish when you can't.


                    • #11
                      Is it true, down is much harder because you have used the same muscles going up, I was told this in a rock climbing lesson from Excum school in the Tetons years ago(over 40). I have always wondered what the reason was. Poles seem to help, but nobody used them 40 years ago....


                      • #12
                        By the way, most people have their poles too long on the ascents and too short on the descents.

                        Whatever poles you get, make sure they are easy to adjust. The terminal segment is often the weakest and can get bent so I keep it pretty short and adjust the length via the upper, proximal joint.
                        The best, the most successful adventurer, is the one having the most fun.


                        • #13
                          Down is better, poles or no poles.
                          In winter I prefer to use poles.
                          In spring, summer, & fall I occasionally use a hiking stick.
                          Sometimes I just like to hike with my hands free.


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Neil View Post
                            By the way, most people have their poles too long on the ascents and too short on the descents.
                            I would guess a lot of people set the height and never adjust after that.
                            As a starting point I set mine for the Iliac Crest and adjust up or down from there depending on the terrain.


                            • #15
                              Great point concerning the height adjustment, poles in hands now. Next trip, Breganz, Austria, Late Spring-Summer. I will report.

                              I'm surprised no one has mentioned knee remedies due to weight loss. I'm trying, but it's "a down hill battle", I'm way to easily tempted. 4 Dunken Dounuts and two bakeries close by....