Every so often I have a look at Phil Lambert’s excellent Doodlecat site, which provides a sort of Grand Central for TGOC related stuff. A recent blog contribution is from Roger Boston (or at least I assume it’s Roger Boston), who has been suffering from knee problems and has had an operation recently. Rather discouragingly his doctor has advised to “avoid walking on rough ground, going up and down hills”. If you’ve looked at Roger’s excellent accounts of his last three Challenges, you’ll recognise that he’s rather unlikely to take this advice!
While I can’t give Roger direct encouragement about his cartilage problem (I know how bad this can be as my sister has had several operations), I can give some encouragement to others who may have suffered ligament problems. A long time ago, I twisted my knee descending Great Whernside and tweaked a ligament on the outside of my right knee. Fortunately it was at the end of a week’s trek around the Dales and I only had to walk to a road and my friend got his car.
From that day on I suffered from painful knees, especially when carrying a heavy pack and on descents. In the end I gave up backpacking and only did day walks, carrying a light pack. Even so, descent was very painful, although ascent and walking on the level was fine. Then I discovered walking poles. This helped dramatically in descent, although I could still feel some pain. Over the years my knees have gradually improved, to the extent that I now feel no discomfort going downhill, even with a full pack.
So it seems I’ve come full circle, hence over the past few years, I’ve been able to start backpacking again, although I’ve taken it carefully to begin with. I can’t really explain why this has happened. I’ve not followed any specific exercise regime. The only things I can put it down to is time healing and using trekking poles. Even though I don’t need to use them, I still carry poles and use them if descent looks tricky. Hopefully, this will encourage others who suffer from knee problems. It’s not always the end!