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How to train for downhill walking

Camino(s) past & future
West highland Way, Scotland, Aug 2016 and Aug 2017.
Camino Frances start SJPDP on Apr 9th 18
#1
Hi,

I took my first shot at CF in april. I started in SJPDP, and had 6 days for walking.
After the first two days, my knees were killing me. To avoid this on my next Camino-experience I will bring hiking poles, and hopefully shred some kilos from my bodyweight.

I would also like to do some extra training focusing on the downhill. However, I live in Denmark, and there is no hills in my vicinity.
At the gym, there is loads of possibilities to train the uphill part, But how do I train for the downhill part?

Thanks in advance for your advice :0)
 

Stivandrer

Perambulating & Curious. Rep stravaiging offender
Camino(s) past & future
I´ve got Camino plans until 2042,
- or till I fall flat on my face, whichever comes first !!
#3
Same country as yourself, I know the problem.
When going down from Zubiri, on the loong stretches, walking on the rolling bake-potato sized stones, I saw a French lady bouncing at at steady pace by me, and downwards, downwards she went, having no problem.

Hey, Lady, How d´ye do that?

Following right behind her was a Britsh lady: - don´t bother she said, she doesn´t understand English...

She told me that due to a back injury this lady was treated by a Chines doctor who had instructed her to adapt a bouncy gait, having a straight back, and lowering at the knees...
lowering your bum seems to be important..

I´ll tell you straight; - it looks silly, and feels even worse:

your quadroceps femoris´ will be killing you at first, but you will no longer be stopping at every step and agonizing your knees....
Takes some time to adjust, but hey , you have all day, and it is killing you anyway..

cannot find a word for the technique anywhere.....

Advice you to train going dowhill in Rundetårn, in Købmagergade. I dare you, full pack !!

ps, I use poles all the time by the way...
 
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martin1ws

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Somport to Finisterre Jul-Aug 2018
#4
Last edited:
Camino(s) past & future
(2017)
#6
Hi,

I took my first shot at CF in april. I started in SJPDP, and had 6 days for walking.
After the first two days, my knees were killing me. To avoid this on my next Camino-experience I will bring hiking poles, and hopefully shred some kilos from my bodyweight.

I would also like to do some extra training focusing on the downhill. However, I live in Denmark, and there is no hills in my vicinity.
At the gym, there is loads of possibilities to train the uphill part, But how do I train for the downhill part?

Thanks in advance for your advice :0)
First of all : You will get lots of answers to this one, some of them will be contradictory. Choose wisely.
Anyway I l live in a flat area too with no possibilities for training downhill over long distances. As a consequence I suffered a lot on my first Camino due to inadequate preparations. I had trained a lot but not enough for downhill. This year was different. I had no problems at all. The reason was training. At least I believe that to be the answer. I did some specific leg exercises in combination with walking and running. The exercises are so called "single leg exercises"and they are very close to or similar to these:
https://www.t-nation.com/training/tip-the-4-single-leg-exercises-you-need
You don't have to go to a fitness centre to do it. You can do it at home with some home made weights in your hand, I.e Jerry cans with water. For me they worked and they also strengthened my core which is a side bonus. Do it at least three times a week and begin at least half a year before your next Camino in order for your legs and joints to benefit from them. No leg and back pains anymore.
Good luck and buon Camino.
 
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Camino(s) past & future
Frances (Sept 2016)
SDC/ Finesterre/ Muxia (2016)
#7
I’m not sure I see a benefit to bouncing
But on extended down hill steep slopes (transferred from alpine hiking) I zigzag and alternate zag every 3 or so so different thigh muscles are engaged
And crouch a bit
This transfers the load into the quads and off the knee itself
It does require some strength in those muscles to do safely
( think of all the knee ligament tears in skiers at the end of their runs when their muscles are too fatigued to protect the knee)
And of course poles
 
#8
Same country as yourself, I know the problem.
When going down from Zubiri, on the loong stretches, walking on the rolling bake-potato sized stones, I saw a French lady bouncing at at steady pace by me, and downwards, downwards she went, having no problem.
.
When I walked down this "deep downward trail" and met a local running his dog. He suggested and demonstrated walking backwardly.

However, I relied on my two walking poles and walked slowly. It was fine for me.

I find the walking poles are very helpful if one way or the other even though a pilgrim is a strong hiker/walker.
 
Camino(s) past & future
(2018)
#9
There were sections of downhill walking that I did walking backwards. You need to be mindful of each step and keep looking over your shoulder, but it is possible to do and do it safely. I used my poles as well. Lots easier on the knees and toes.
 

Easel

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francese Summer 2018
#10
First of all : You will get lots of answers to this one, some of them will be contradictory. Choose wisely.
Anyway I l live in a flat area too with no possibilities for training downhill over long distances. As a consequence I suffered a lot on my first Camino due to inadequate preparations. I had trained a lot but not enough for downhill. This year was different. I had no problems at all. The reason was training. At least I believe that to be the answer. I did some specific leg exercises in combination with walking and running. The exercises are so called "single leg exercises"and they are very close to or similar to these:
https://www.t-nation.com/training/tip-the-4-single-leg-exercises-you-need
You don't have to go to a fitness centre to do it. You can do it at home with some home made weights in your hand, I.e Jerry cans with water. For me they worked and they also strengthened my core which is a side bonus. Do it at least three times a week and begin at least half a year before your next Camino in order for your legs and joints to benefit from them. No leg and back pains anymore.
Good luck and buon Camino.
Having just completed my Camino, I also struggled with downhill sections. Having reviewed the link above, I feel these would have helped me tremendouslyu.
 

Felipe

Veteran Member
#11
Zigzagging, hiking poles...I try them, and more or less awkardly manage downhills.
But in stages as before Zubiri or Molinaseca, I end up almost unavoidably with a blister in the tip of my second toe, or worse, a blood clot under the toenail. A fellow recomended tying my shoelaces very tight...I have thought about using a second pair of socks, to avoid the friction. Don't know if there is a knowledgable experience around there.
 

Walking Lover

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CdS from Leon to Santiago, June 16, 2016 to June 30, 2016.
#12
Walk at a
Hi,

I took my first shot at CF in april. I started in SJPDP, and had 6 days for walking.
After the first two days, my knees were killing me. To avoid this on my next Camino-experience I will bring hiking poles, and hopefully shred some kilos from my bodyweight.

I would also like to do some extra training focusing on the downhill. However, I live in Denmark, and there is no hills in my vicinity.
At the gym, there is loads of possibilities to train the uphill part, But how do I train for the downhill part?

Thanks in advance for your advice :0)
Walk backward at a slow speed on a treadmill.
 

domigee

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF(x4), Fisterra/Muxía(x2), VdlP, Jerusalem, VF, Walsingham,
C inglés. 2019? Who knows! ;-)
#13
Zigzagging, hiking poles...I try them, and more or less awkardly manage downhills.
But in stages as before Zubiri or Molinaseca, I end up almost unavoidably with a blister in the tip of my second toe, or worse, a blood clot under the toenail. A fellow recomended tying my shoelaces very tight...I have thought about using a second pair of socks, to avoid the friction. Don't know if there is a knowledgable experience around there.
There was! @davebugg ! And he isn’t coming back, apparently :(
 
Camino(s) past & future
SJPDP-Finisterre X 2, El Norte incompleto
#14
Zigzagging, hiking poles...I try them, and more or less awkardly manage downhills.
But in stages as before Zubiri or Molinaseca, I end up almost unavoidably with a blister in the tip of my second toe, or worse, a blood clot under the toenail. A fellow recomended tying my shoelaces very tight...I have thought about using a second pair of socks, to avoid the friction. Don't know if there is a knowledgable experience around there.
If you bring hiking sandals you can save your toenails by wearing them on the downhills.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Madrid to Santiago (May 2016)
#15
You can strengthen the muscles in your thighs by doing squats. Ideally, though, you should take some aikido classes: that will really firm up your thighs for the downhills.
 
Camino(s) past & future
(2017)
#16
You can strengthen the muscles in your thighs by doing squats. Ideally, though, you should take some aikido classes: that will really firm up your thighs for the downhills.
Squatting is a very good exercise for developing strength in legs, joints and your back. But single leg exercises are better training for walking than a double-leg exercise like squatting. The reason is that single leg-training exercises are closer to how your legs work during walking, especially downhill, which is a "single-leg dominant" movement. On each step all your weight is landing on one leg. Not on two legs like in squatting or jumping.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2007, 2009 Norte 2013, Inglés 2014, Fisterra 2009, Muxia 2013, Primitivo 2016 & 2018
#17
Hi,

I took my first shot at CF in april. I started in SJPDP, and had 6 days for walking.
After the first two days, my knees were killing me. To avoid this on my next Camino-experience I will bring hiking poles, and hopefully shred some kilos from my bodyweight.

I would also like to do some extra training focusing on the downhill. However, I live in Denmark, and there is no hills in my vicinity.
At the gym, there is loads of possibilities to train the uphill part, But how do I train for the downhill part?

Thanks in advance for your advice :0)
Hi - I've just completed the Camino Primitivo - had a real problem with my right knee after the Hospitales route (2 heavy downhills) - I ended up in the next few days till Melide (where I ended this time) coming down sideways ie like a crab on most of the downs. I didn't care how I looked, I just needed to relieve the pain. I always use poles and had a knee support and now home after 2 days I have no pain at all. By the way I am 65!
 
Camino(s) past & future
First timer, leaving April 3rd from SJPDP
#18
"Bend zee knees, five dollars please". The old downhill ski instructor joke. My wife used it to save her Camino. She went to bent knees and solved her pains. Took a while to get comfortable doing it, but by second day she was back to enjoying the trip! I personally traverse, but it didn't work for her. Bent knees solved it.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Norte and Frances Sept 6 - Oct 11, 2016
#19
Hi , what can help is try to zig zag when it is steep.
I'am from Holland it's probably as flat as Denmark and it works for me.

Wish you well and a Buen Camino , Peter .
I climb volcanoes and high mountains and have knee problems. I always zig zap AND use poles. I also wear knee braces. Works for me. At the end of the day, if you have pain, ICE.
 

BruceNZ

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Portuguese (Via de la Plata)
#20
Walking the Annapurna Circuit years ago I spent time watching the porters walk who were carrying up to 80kg ! Porters always 'bounce' as they walk ...in other words they engage their thighs and have a very regular bouncy walk. It seems counter intuitive to bounce up and down using your thighs but they act as a shock absorber taking the pressure off the knees. Takes a while to get used to but it does work. Buen camino
 

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