Knee pain hiking is usually noticed in the area behind the kneecap and can intensify when walking downhill.

Hiking conditioning exercises can help to minimize the discomfort and pain. Some of the best exercises include those able to strengthen the quadriceps, which are located at the front of the thigh and help with patellar movement.

Stretching exercises can also help with focus invested on the iliotibial band, calves, and hamstring.

Knee Pain Hiking Preparation Guide

Here are six of the exercises that can help to prepare the knees for hiking:


Cycling (on the streets or a stationary bike) gives a perfect opportunity to strengthen and condition the muscles around the knees. A regular cycling session helps to build the hamstrings and quadriceps to provide both long-term endurance and strength.

A planned exercise program should ideally start at least 2-3 months before starting to hike in the wilderness. A cycling program should include 3-5 sessions per week with each session lasting 20-25 minutes per day.

Leg Extensions

The leg extension is a great exercise which helps to target the quadriceps muscles. Strengthening the quads can help to provide extra shock absorption to make sure the knee and kneecap is better protected when walking downhill.

This exercise is performed using a leg extension machine, an exercise band, or simply using body weight. Use the preferred exercise option and complete 10 repetitions with 1-3 sets.

When the strength in the legs starts to build up, add ankle weight for a higher degree of lift resistance.

Wall Squats

Wall squats are a further exercise to help promote better muscle endurance and certain to benefit the knees on a day-long hiking expedition.

This exercise is useful for its ability to work the quads with an isometric contraction. Build up the ability to hold the squat position over time with a preferred range in the region of 3-5 minutes.

Hamstring Stretch

Improving the strength of the hamstring is certain to minimize issues with knee pain from hiking and all-round knee health.

The hamstring works in combination with the quadriceps muscles to help with supporting the knee. Perform a hamstring stretch using a scissor or standing stretches.

Repeat the hamstring curls 10 times per leg. Similar to training the quads, ankle weights can be used to increase the difficulty of the exercise.

Calf Stretch

The calf muscles can benefit from a daily stretch to avoid issues with tightness which can have the negative impact of knee pain.

A positive impact of strengthening the calves is the ability to tone the muscles around the knee. Plus, the strong calf muscles are much more efficient at giving shock absorbing protection while hiking.

Iliotibial Band Stretch

The tendon known as the iliotibial band is found on the outside of the leg and stretches from the knee to hip. If this muscle is left to get too tight it can start to cause issues with knee pain.

A regular session of an iliotibial band stretch is certain to help avoid this type of problem.