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Darn those downhill stretches suck - some ideas to strengthen your body for downhills

Keith H

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
😱
Hey peeps 👋

In ‘real’ life I helped workers remain injury free so they could enjoy their retirement rather than finish work broken. An overlap I found with the work I did with them and with hiking was balance. The main issue I’ve found with going downhill is a lack of balance. It seems like a lack of strength, and this is sort of true, but in reality it’s the inability to recruit the right muscles to do the job to keep us stable. It’s the same issue that plagues older folks with increased fall risk.

One way to help address this risk in workers, and subsequently myself, on hikes was to start challenging my balance on a regular basis. Most of us are rarely on an uneven surface but by seeking a out opportunities to walk on uneaten surfaces we can help train the muscles that are responsible for maintaining balance. It’s like working your way up to longer distances before going on the Camino. You have to train in advance or suffer along the way. The way I’ve done this is to look for raised edges along sidewalks, curbs, rocks etc and deliberately walk on those rather than avoid them.

This Video by Chase looks at the same thing and shows ways to incorporate it into your workouts.

I hope this helps!

¡Buen Camino!
Keith
 
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Marbe2

Active member
Time of past OR future Camino
2015-2019 walked all or more than half of CF 7 times... CP recently cancelled by Covid 19!
Thanks for the link. I am reminded, as a senior, to a pay even a bit more attention to balance when getting ready for the Camino. I find that walking in the state park near us…which is hilly and uneven, combined with pavement walking on the town paths where I live are a good combination for getting ready for the Camino. However ,we have curbs around as well, and I will include some curb walking into my prep. Thanks!
 

Keith H

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
😱
Thanks for the link. I am reminded, as a senior, to a pay even a bit more attention to balance when getting ready for the Camino. I find that walking in the state park near us…which is hilly and uneven, combined with pavement walking on the town paths where I live are a good combination for getting ready for the Camino. However ,we have curbs around as well, and I will include some curb walking into my prep. Thanks!
Awesome! Glad it was helpful
 
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cf (2), de la plata, cp. (2003 -2018)
Which is why God invented (created?) hiking poles! ;)😁
Oh yeah? As an oldie who has used pacer poles for years, guess, who had a bad fall right inside the hospital door? ME! Why and how? I came hurtling in the door, puts pole on floor, floor wet, off went pole AND me :) Five hours later I got out of A & E ! I have a severe balance problem anyway and do some balance exercises to help. At 84, I don't need any fancy training, just lots of vigilance as to possible hotspots like stepping of the pavement when crossing roads! Certainly improves my glare plus gesture ability in face of motorists :)

Buen camino and of course

Walk soft

stay safe

and have a glass of vino tinto on safe arrival back home :)

Samarkand.
 

Keith H

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
😱
Thanks for the ideas. On sidewalks I seek out cracks or joints to walk on, as if on a balance beam. Also, standing on one foot while brushing my teeth - left in the morning, right in the evening.
Nice! I didn’t do anything like it for a long time despite regular workouts etc. Adding some balance training was like starting all over again.
 
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Keith H

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
😱
Oh yeah? As an oldie who has used pacer poles for years, guess, who had a bad fall right inside the hospital door? ME! Why and how? I came hurtling in the door, puts pole on floor, floor wet, off went pole AND me :) Five hours later I got out of A & E ! I have a severe balance problem anyway and do some balance exercises to help. At 84, I don't need any fancy training, just lots of vigilance as to possible hotspots like stepping of the pavement when crossing roads! Certainly improves my glare plus gesture ability in face of motorists :)

Buen camino and of course

Walk soft

stay safe

and have a glass of vino tinto on safe arrival back home :)

Samarkand.
Oof! Sorry to hear about your fall! Vigilance is always the best first line of defence 👍
 
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Keith H

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
😱
Core strengthening is key--according to my physical therapist. And I nag my yoga students all the time about it, too.
Core strength is absolutely important. It’s one of the areas strengthened when you train balance for sure. There are hundreds of accessory muscles that come in to play to help maintain balance especially on challenging terrain.
 

Zordmot

3rd CF in May 2022
Time of past OR future Camino
April-May 2022
Hey peeps 👋

In ‘real’ life I helped workers remain injury free so they could enjoy their retirement rather than finish work broken. An overlap I found with the work I did with them and with hiking was balance. The main issue I’ve found with going downhill is a lack of balance. It seems like a lack of strength, and this is sort of true, but in reality it’s the inability to recruit the right muscles to do the job to keep us stable. It’s the same issue that plagues older folks with increased fall risk.

One way to help address this risk in workers, and subsequently myself, on hikes was to start challenging my balance on a regular basis. Most of us are rarely on an uneven surface but by seeking a out opportunities to walk on uneaten surfaces we can help train the muscles that are responsible for maintaining balance. It’s like working your way up to longer distances before going on the Camino. You have to train in advance or suffer along the way. The way I’ve done this is to look for raised edges along sidewalks, curbs, rocks etc and deliberately walk on those rather than avoid them.

This Video by Chase looks at the same thing and shows ways to incorporate it into your workouts.

I hope this helps!

¡Buen Camino!
Keith
At 67 and having balance problems associated with Meniere’s and hearing loss I’ve found step climbing as a great activity that improves balance and cardio—especially as I increase speed as endurance increases. Most towns will have a longer staircase somewhere. I’ve used football stadiums, museum steps, church steps, steps up to a vista point, etc
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2017
There is a one-way single lane loop road that meanders up and down through the forest park adjacent to our home. Before 10:00 a.m. it is closed to vehicles. People with whom I may be walking know that at a certain point I peal off to go onto a root/rock gnarly trail for some distance. I refer to it as getting in my "trail work" which is to say my balance exercise. Despite the photo to the left, I rarely use poles except for going down steep surfaces (knees). I entertain the (perhaps) false notion that I should rely on my own natural ability to balance without relying on poles. On the CF in 2017, they mostly stayed in my pack. I'll be 80 this year (seems strange to say that) and I know the importance of balance at all times, but especially when hiking in the high country of the Cascades. This is an important thread, Keith; thanks for initiating it.

Peep in Anacortes
 

trecile

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
PAST - Francés, Norte, Salvador, Portuguese
Despite the photo to the left, I rarely use poles except for going down steep surfaces (knees). I entertain the (perhaps) false notion that I should rely on my own natural ability to balance without relying on poles
When I'm hiking without a Camino sized backpack I don't use poles. But I always do when carrying my pack on the Camino. I figure that my center of gravity is different with the extra weight in my back, and the poles help me rebalance.
 
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MikeyC

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
CF - September 2016
CF - April May 2017
Shikoku - October 2017
Kumano Kodo - October 2017
CF - 2019
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Keith H

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
😱
At 67 and having balance problems associated with Meniere’s and hearing loss I’ve found step climbing as a great activity that improves balance and cardio—especially as I increase speed as endurance increases. Most towns will have a longer staircase somewhere. I’ve used football stadiums, museum steps, church steps, steps up to a vista point, etc
Nice one Zordmot!
 

Keith H

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
😱
There is a one-way single lane loop road that meanders up and down through the forest park adjacent to our home. Before 10:00 a.m. it is closed to vehicles. People with whom I may be walking know that at a certain point I peal off to go onto a root/rock gnarly trail for some distance. I refer to it as getting in my "trail work" which is to say my balance exercise. Despite the photo to the left, I rarely use poles except for going down steep surfaces (knees). I entertain the (perhaps) false notion that I should rely on my own natural ability to balance without relying on poles. On the CF in 2017, they mostly stayed in my pack. I'll be 80 this year (seems strange to say that) and I know the importance of balance at all times, but especially when hiking in the high country of the Cascades. This is an important thread, Keith; thanks for initiating it.

Peep in Anacortes
I’m glad it’s sparking good discussion!
 

Keith H

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
😱
When I'm hiking without a Camino sized backpack I don't use poles. But I always do when carrying my pack on the Camino. I figure that my center of gravity is different with the extra weight in my back, and the poles help me rebalance.
I find the same depending on my load. Very good point
 

Keith H

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
😱
Counterintuitively it may well be the downhill that is better exercise than walking uphill or downstairs rather than up. For both strength and balance.

Podcast from the BBC though the text sums it up nicely.


I also find a balance or wobble board very useful for exercise at home.
Absolutely agree
 
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Time of past OR future Camino
2018
@Keith H thanks for starting this discussion.

To keep your knees strong try doing partial "chair" while brushing your teeth, twice daily x 2 mins. Break the monotony by leaning on one leg for xx seconds and then adjust weight to the other leg. Try different variations like slowly going down further into chair then slowly up during the 2 minutes. No need for going to gym if you are not incline to.

At 60, I was was overweight but to my amazement i was gliding down the slopes after Alto del Perdon and Cruz de Ferro. The poles were strapped to the pack on both descends. I was grinning all the way down, happy the knees were painfree, nevermind the blisters and half dozen ailments I have kept me humbled.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Us:Camino Frances, 2015 Me:Catalan/Aragonese, 2019
We just got back from hiking in the mountains. There were plenty of rocks, roots and ruts. I make an effort to walk on the rocks. They help with balance but maybe it is a chicken or egg problem as you need a good sense of balance to do it. It does help prevent trail erosion.

I try to avoid stepping on the roots though. It's not good for the trees. And if they are wet you will be happy that the rock walking helped your balance.
 

Canche

Volcano Climber
Time of past OR future Camino
Norte/Frances 2016, San Salvador & Primitivo 2021
Hey peeps 👋

In ‘real’ life I helped workers remain injury free so they could enjoy their retirement rather than finish work broken. An overlap I found with the work I did with them and with hiking was balance. The main issue I’ve found with going downhill is a lack of balance. It seems like a lack of strength, and this is sort of true, but in reality it’s the inability to recruit the right muscles to do the job to keep us stable. It’s the same issue that plagues older folks with increased fall risk.

One way to help address this risk in workers, and subsequently myself, on hikes was to start challenging my balance on a regular basis. Most of us are rarely on an uneven surface but by seeking a out opportunities to walk on uneaten surfaces we can help train the muscles that are responsible for maintaining balance. It’s like working your way up to longer distances before going on the Camino. You have to train in advance or suffer along the way. The way I’ve done this is to look for raised edges along sidewalks, curbs, rocks etc and deliberately walk on those rather than avoid them.

This Video by Chase looks at the same thing and shows ways to incorporate it into your workouts.

I hope this helps!

¡Buen Camino!
Keith
I live in a city that is cobblestone and I hate it and avoid it. But perhaps I should do a little bit to challenge my balance. I live in fear of falling. I'm over 70. It's scary.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino de Santiago de Compostela (2022)
I agree with your OP. Coming down Ben Lomond was almost as tough as the ascent. Especially where the “step“ up/down rocks was greater than “normal”. whatever normal is 😂
 

Keith H

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
😱
I live in a city that is cobblestone and I hate it and avoid it. But perhaps I should do a little bit to challenge my balance. I live in fear of falling. I'm over 70. It's scary.
I just moved to Barcelona and I have found the cobbles to be a good challenge. It was tougher at first but I could feel the muscles firing up which is a good thing
 
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Robo

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances 2015,
2016, 2018
VdlP 2023
Hey peeps 👋

In ‘real’ life I helped workers remain injury free so they could enjoy their retirement rather than finish work broken. An overlap I found with the work I did with them and with hiking was balance. The main issue I’ve found with going downhill is a lack of balance. It seems like a lack of strength, and this is sort of true, but in reality it’s the inability to recruit the right muscles to do the job to keep us stable. It’s the same issue that plagues older folks with increased fall risk.

One way to help address this risk in workers, and subsequently myself, on hikes was to start challenging my balance on a regular basis. Most of us are rarely on an uneven surface but by seeking a out opportunities to walk on uneaten surfaces we can help train the muscles that are responsible for maintaining balance. It’s like working your way up to longer distances before going on the Camino. You have to train in advance or suffer along the way. The way I’ve done this is to look for raised edges along sidewalks, curbs, rocks etc and deliberately walk on those rather than avoid them.

This Video by Chase looks at the same thing and shows ways to incorporate it into your workouts.

I hope this helps!

¡Buen Camino!
Keith

Great video. Balance beam in the backyard coming up! ;)
 

Northpole

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Primitivo 2023
Thank you Keith for this great reminder and excellent video! I didn’t know that channel but seems like he has a lot of useful stuff. Will be great for my Camino prep!
 

Icacos

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (2013)
Thank you OP for this informative video. It’s made me conscious of what I might be paying more attention to. Today on my regular walk - to focus on my balance - I made a point of walking along the very edge of sidewalks as much as I could; I figure that’s a good substitute for a 2 x 4. I held on to my poles mid-shaft and used them and my arms for added balance.
 

Keith H

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
😱
Thank you Keith for this great reminder and excellent video! I didn’t know that channel but seems like he has a lot of useful stuff. Will be great for my Camino prep!
Chase’s stuff is top notch. He preps people for really tough climbs (K2, Everest etc) but also does through hiking which is very Camino friendly.
 
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Keith H

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
😱
Thank you OP for this informative video. It’s made me conscious of what I might be paying more attention to. Today on my regular walk - to focus on my balance - I made a point of walking along the very edge of sidewalks as much as I could; I figure that’s a good substitute for a 2 x 4. I held on to my poles mid-shaft and used them and my arms for added balance.
Perfect! That’s what I do. I look for any opportunity that comes along to take the less stable route
 

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