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physical fitness - need opinion

Karms

New Member
#1
Hi :)

I would like to walk the Camino Frances, but I am concerned about my sports injuries. I had a knee injury and a mild spine injury from ice hockey four years ago. How can I test my knee and spine for fitness? For the past 6 months I have been walking 5km a day (I walk to work and back home and I am not bothered by any of my sports injuries. I am also very fit and healthy otherwise.

I am female and I'm 30 years old. I weigh about 58kg and I have a light body frame but I'm not sure if I'll cope with a backpack heavier than 5kg...

Any advice would be much appreciated. :)
 

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#2
Karms:
Be not overly worried, or even deterred. I was walking fine after a spine operation, but then I kept my backpack weight down to 8 kgs max.
Knees may be a different matter. There are many steep downhill stretches in the Pyrenees stretch and they really stress the knees. Also the effects of walking day after day after day is something you cannot ever simulate in an afternoon at your local park.

But hey, what the heck. Many others are surely worse off than you and still do -and enjoy- it. You start and see what happens. Maybe do not choose St. Jean as starting point but rather Pamplona. You can always return to do the steep bits once you are more reassured. The knees swell, you take it easier, or have some rest. Problems persist, there is always a bus around the corner. Backpack too heavy?: Consider to bring along a trolley like a Golf Caddy Cart, looks odd, but may solve your problem.
Always look at the bright sides, there are so many.

K.
 

Karms

New Member
#3
wow.. I didn't even think of a caddy cart... thanks so much for this info. I will research Pamplona.

I want to walk the camino on my own.

I would like to do it during Spring season I think... March/April/May.
 

Barbara

Active Member
#4
Backpack? Naahh, walk with a donkey. Not only can you carry everything, including a tent, but you are sure of intelligent company....
 
#5
Karms,

Try walking a little further each day. 5 km a day or 2.5 each way isn't really enough to bring out any problems. You want to do 2 things, improve your overall fitness and find out if there are any problems. Better to find out at home where you have a chance of fixing them than somewhere in Spain. You can only find out if you going to have problems by walking the extra distance.

When I started walking to prepare for our camino this spring, I ran into problems at about 10 - 12 km. My feet were killing me and my legs would shake with exhaustion. The foot problems I solved with orthotic inserts and the fatigue by losing weight and exercise. On weekends, weather permitting, I now walk about 16 km each day and my goal is to be able to walk 25 to 30 a day. Your weight sounds fine and you are half my age. I was 25 kg overweight, now I'm 15 and planning to lose as much more as I can. I'd like to lose the age but I'm stuck with it. I have plantar fasciitis in both feet and osteoarthritis in my knees, hips and spine, nothing really serious, but very painful at times.

It takes serious and ruthless planning to get your pack weight to 5 kg or less. Fortunately, ultralight backpacking is very popular now and there are lots of resources on the web. Try searching using ultralight backpacking gear as keywords. The good news is that with the lighter pack weight you can use a much lighter pack, a rucksack rather than a frame pack. Because the weight on your back is so much less you can wear lighter shoes rather than heavy boots (but do make sure you have good ankle support). When planning, don’t forget to include the weight of the water and snacks that you are carrying but don’t include the weight of what you expect to wear. My daughter and I will be carrying a base gear weight of 3.5 kg each with a total weight including water and snacks of about 5.5 kg. There are some ultralight backpackers who, including their tent and sleeping bag, carry 2.5 kg base gear weight although the average seems to be 5 kg. Since we don’t need a tent or cold weather sleeping bag, 3.5 was easy to achieve.

I hope this helps. Good luck and buen camino.
 

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#6
I work at the gym at my college and talked with some of the profs about this. Basically they say to work legs and core. While focusing on high rep/low weight. Also work specific exercises, such as, hiking, backpacking and walking on varios terrains several days a week and for several days straight.
 
#7
Karms:

I walked the Camino Frances in 2000 and my walking partner (also aged 30 and generally fit & healthy) developed a recurrent knee problem pretty early on. Along the way we bought different boots, knee supports, sticks, rested & spent much time despairing whether to call it quits.

I don't think there's a right answer to your question - your knee may hold up or it may not - your experience will be very different depending on which it is. My advice, however, would be to have a reserve plan just in case it doesn't. Make it something exciting and challenging, then if you have to stop the walk you'll not feel quite so wretched - it really is hard to leave the camino once you've made a start.

Practically, as well as the obvious good boots and a light rucksack, I'd recommend two lightweight walking poles which can sit on your sack if not needed. Best of luck.
 
#8
Hi,
WOW! A lot of you prepared physically for this!
I am only 8 weeks ( leaving in 7 ) off my camino, and have found it difficult to start exercising- have done very little! What would be the best prep from now on?.... live in a fairly flat city! And currently not very fit :!:
Jess :p
 

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