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Sanabres- Downhill to Ponte Ulla!

Time of past OR future Camino
Recent:Norte/Muxia- Spring '23
MadridWay- Fall '23
I completed the Sanabres Camino a week ago after having started in Rionegro del Puente.
I am a forum member who enjoys the downhills as my knees have always been strong. The uphills wear me out rather quickly, so I am not as "fond" of them.

For anyone on the Sanabres now, or contemplating walking it and taking notes, I would like to draw attention to Gronze's stage (Silleda to Outeiro), specifically the section after San Miguel de Castro to Ponte Ulla. This is a lovely unused lane through mostly woods that eventually has a sign indicating a 10% steep grade coming up. It continues relentlessly snaking back and forth for approximately 2.5k with no break in the steep descent whatsoever. My good knees took a beating and near the end I noticed my left knee was quite sore and weaker. We stayed the night in Eiravedra, and I finished the final 20k the next day into Santiago. It is now a week later and my knee shows no real improvement yet.

All this to say...be extremely careful on this "never ending" downhill. Possibly I could have slowed myself down with shorter steps although I am not sure as the pull of gravity pushed us forward. Or possibly being a 22k day my legs were already tired.
I have been on at least 8 various caminos and never experienced anything close to this.

Here are a couple of screenshots I took from the Gronze app to show what I am talking about.
Screenshot_20240518-074201~3.pngScreenshot_20240518-074901~4.png
 
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The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
That's interesting. Last summer I walked this stage and I don't even remember a downhill. Or it can be that after having walked both the Olvidado and the Invierno that I was just focused on arriving in Santiago.
Yes, but remember that the descent from San Juan de la Peña didn’t do anything to your knees either, and it left mine in a very unhappy state!
 
I have had some knee problems on several caminos, @Camino Chrissy, and I was very careful going down to Ponte Ulla this year. In addition to slowing down, one technique that reduces the steepness is to make your own switchbacks. Just weave from side to side of the road (as you say, there’s no one on it) and you will have a gentler, though longer, descent.
Good idea, Laurie. I think part of my problem was that I did not really pay close attention to Gronze that day and had no clue how extremely L o n g and unrelenting it was going to be. Yes, I am aware of zigzagging, but never thought I would be needed to do that with "such good knees"🙄 as I'd never had any injuries walking on any Camino. (My broken arm doesn't count.😉)
 
Yes, but remember that the descent from San Juan de la Peña didn’t do anything to your knees either, and it left mine in a very unhappy state!
Yeah but that was a serious downhill, one I've not forgotten.

Switchbacks is indeed the way to go if the path or road is wide enough. I remember doing that during the downhill to the reservoir on the Primitivo. It just goes on and on!

Who knows, I may have the same experience as you both this summer when I walk from Zamora to Santiago with my new hip 😳
 
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I remember doing that during the downhill to the reservoir on the Primitivo. It just goes on and on!
I had no trouble with that section on the Primitivo going down to the dam. The switchbacks were many, more gradual and on a true path, not smooth road. Also I was eight years younger...maybe that had something to do with my success.😅
 
Well, for me Chrissy, long downhills are problematic, but I experienced nothing on this section. This was after I suffered horribly on the San Salvador, the section from San Miguel del Rio to Campomanes. I blame the fact that it was on pavement, and I was pulling through each step too hard with too long a stride. When I shortened my stride this helped!

Recently, I've talked to a kinesiologist on the Camino and he has validated that to prevent foot, knee and shin injuries, a soft mid-foot landing, with softened knees, absolutely avoiding a heel strike is best!

I also found that if I use my poles properly to unweight my knees, this really, really helps. You may want to Google the proper way to use poles again to accomplish this.

We just completed the West Highland Way, and though it is only 150 km, there are significant and long daily elevation changes, both up and down. I had absolutely no problems with my knees using these techniques! I relied heavily on poles to unweight them and it worked!

If your knees don't get better soon, you may have actually torn something, so I would get that checked out! Mine always improve quickly when I stop walking. Good luck!
 
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I hope your knee comes right Chris! And soon.

👀
Last summer I walked this stage and I don't even remember a downhill.
I actually jogged down
OMG, Lee you're astonishing. In both cases

I do remember that stretch really well; it was long, and on a hard surface. I was so glad when it was done.
20190615_143406.jpg 20190615_150405.jpg
I paused at a chapel part way down to give one of my ankles a break, because it abhors downhills.
It's worth pausing here!
20190615_144356.jpg 20190615_144943.jpg
 
We did it a few hours ago! My knees luckily are ok, but today the surface was very slippery, although it is all on asphalt! Take care with the rain! And for those who will pass here I would like to suggest to climb up to O Pico Sacro some kms after to take the first look at the Cathedral. Up there there is some QR codes that explain the legend of the burial of saint James by his fellows.
 

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If your knees don't get better soon, you may have actually torn something, so I would get that checked out! Mine always improve quickly when I stop walking. Good luck!
@Elle Bieling I have never experienced a knee injury until now. It is not exactly painful, but I can tell it is a bit weaker and I am "babying" it when I walked two miles; going slower on my flat path at home, so something is not quite right. I will give it a few more weeks before I have it looked at.

Btw, I am very curious about your recent Highland Way walk. Will you be posting or blogging on your website about it?
 
We did it a few hours ago! My knees luckily are ok, but today the surface was very slippery, although it is all on asphalt! Take care with the rain! And for those who will pass here I would like to suggest to climb up to O Pico Sacro some kms after to take the first look at the Cathedral. Up there there is some QR codes that explain the legend of the burial of saint James by his fellows.
@peregrina2000 posted about that climb recently. I wanted to do it, but worried about extra stress on my wonky knee after the descent to Ponte Ulla. I think I walked too fast on that devilish downhill.😐. I'm glad you enjoyed it Pico Sacro!
 
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Devilish downhill indeed! Just walked that section on 04 May 2024 (arrived Santiago on 05 May) and it was killer on my knees. Ended up changing my plans for the next week because of my last two days of the Sanabrés, with asphalt, mud, rain, rocks, knee pain, a bloody sock…I’ll spare you the gory details)!
 
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I have had some knee problems on several caminos, @Camino Chrissy, and I was very careful going down to Ponte Ulla this year. In addition to slowing down, one technique that reduces the steepness is to make your own switchbacks. Just weave from side to side of the road (as you say, there’s no one on it) and you will have a gentler, though longer, descent.
Yes, the zigzag is a great technique. I used it on the climb up out of Ourense last month - to the amusement of some Spanish pilgrims - but it makes the steep climbs so much less challenge.
 

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