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Do you do a lot of walking? If so, it’s important to take precautions to protect your knees, as they take a lot of impact when you walk. This is something I learned the hard way last year when I went through a phase of walking a lot. Unfortunately, my knees suffered and I ended up experiencing knee pain and discomfort especially when I bent my legs.
Thankfully, I was able to recover from my knee pain and didn’t have to give up my walking. In this blog post, I want to share with you some of the things I did that helped my knees to recover and also some tips for how to protect your knees when you walk a lot, to prevent damage or pain from occurring in the first place. These tips should mostly be relevant for all types of exercise, not just walking.
Before we start, I would like to put in a disclaimer that this is not medical advice. I am by no means an expert on knees or any aspect of health. I am simply sharing my own experience and the things I found that helped me. If you are having any problems with your knees, please consult a doctor and don’t just rely on my advice.
How to protect your knees when you walk a lot
Invest in good footwear
It’s important to take your choice of footwear seriously, especially if you walk often. When I started having knee pain, I’d been wearing a pair of really old trainers on my walks. The soles were getting worn down, both inside and outside the shoes, and this damage to the structure of my shoes could well have contributed to my knee issues. I decided it would be a good time to invest in some new and better quality trainers.
I did some research to find the best trainers for knee protection and support, within my budget. I ended up getting the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 21 running shoes. They cost around £100 which is more than I have ever spent on trainers before, but I felt it was worth investing in a quality pair to protect my knees, which are priceless.
I sized up by half a size because I saw recommendations online to do so. They turned out to be the perfect fit and were immediately comfortable to walk in. I’ve never had any problems with rubbing or discomfort with these trainers. When I first started wearing them, I didn’t notice an immediate improvement in my knees, but over time, I think they have really helped.
These are actually running shoes because I prefer to opt for running shoes when I am walking, but it’s generally recommended to wear walking shoes or walking boots. Either way, opt for footwear that is designed to be easy on your knees and you should be fine.
Take rest days
It’s important to take rest days from your exercise anyway, to give your muscles a chance to recover and rebuild. But it’s even more important if you are suffering from any kind of pain such as knee pain. Depending on the level of pain or injury, it may be wise to stop exercising completely until it heals. From my experience, my knee pain wasn’t debilitating, so I still went for walks but I took it easy by going for shorter walks and having more rest days. Over time this gave my knees an opportunity to rest and heal.
Check your posture and walking technique
You probably haven’t given much thought to your walking technique – you just walk! But amazingly, there is actually a proper way to walk that can help avoid pain and injuries. I’m no expert on this so I will link you straight to this page where the proper walking technique is described in detail.
Apply magnesium gel
Magnesium is an important mineral that has many health benefits including speeding up muscle recovery and strengthening joint cartilage. Therefore, if you’re experiencing any knee pain, it’s definitely worth trying! Magnesium is best absorbed in the form of a gel. Try rubbing some into your knees and allow it to absorb. Tip – don’t do this if you have just shaved your legs because it stings!
Take dietary supplements
As well as magnesium, some other supplements for joint pain include:
If you’re having trouble with your knees (or want to prevent it) it’s well worth including some of these supplements in your diet.
Stretch before and after your walk
It’s recommended to stretch before and after you exercise, and this includes walking. This point is summed up perfectly in this quote from Healthline: “Gentle stretching and strengthening exercises can strengthen the muscles that support your knee joint. Having stronger muscles can reduce the impact and stress on your knee, and help your knee joint move more easily.” It’s clear that stretching can help to protect your knees and even help them to heal more quickly. However, if you are experiencing serious knee pain or injury, please consult your doctor before stretching.
Get some knee supports
Knee supports are made to do exactly that – support your knees. When I was having knee pain, I went to Boots or Superdrug (I can’t remember which) and picked up some knee supports. Personally, I didn’t get on too well with the ones I got because I found them too stiff, tight and uncomfortable around my legs. If I were to buy more, I’d go for a softer, more flexible type. It’s definitely worth trying various knee supports to find some that work for you.
Take less stuff with you
I recently wrote a post about what to bring with you on a walk. There are certain essentials that I’d definitely recommend bringing with you on a walk, but overall it’s a good idea to pack your bag and/or pockets as lightly as possible because this will reduce strain on your knees. If your coat pockets are full of random coins, papers and objects, the weight can really add up and make a difference. So clear them out and just bring the essentials.
If you bring a bag, I recommend a rucksack rather than a shoulder bag because the weight of the bag will be more evenly distributed across your body.
Wear loose clothes on your legs
If I wear tight jeans or thick leggings on a walk, the material tends to bunch up behind my knees when I bend them, making it harder work to manoeuvre my legs. It’s hard to explain this but do you know what I mean? I feel as though it’s probably not good for your knees, or your legs in general, to have to work against this extra padding. I recommend saving the thick, tight clothes for shorter walks and instead wear looser trousers (or a skirt or shorts) when you are walking a lot.
Walk on soft surfaces
To reduce the impact on your knees, try to avoid hard surfaces such as concrete as much as possible, and instead opt to walk on grass or dirt paths. This is easier when you are walking in the countryside, but it’s also possible in towns; you could walk through parks and along grassy verges instead of the pavement. Soft paths and grass may be muddy in the winter, but in the warmer months, it’s a great idea to opt for them to protect your knees.
Have you ever experienced knee pain?
My personal story has a happy ending because my knees gradually recovered and now, a year or so later, I have no knee pain or discomfort at all, even on long walks. I think my new trainers probably played a big part in this, as well as a combination of all these other factors. So if you are currently experiencing knee pain, there is hope! It’s possible for your knees to recover as mine did.
Whether or not you’ve had problems with your knees, I hope you’ve picked up some tips from this post for how to protect your knees and prevent any knee pain from occurring when you walk a lot. Do you know of any more ways to protect your knees? I’d love to hear your tips and experiences so do leave them in the comments below!