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Training for walking downhill in gym

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Re: Training for walking downhill in gym

Postby johngenx » Mon Apr 07, 2014 1:44 am

I use trail runners on snow, then micro-spikes if it's super icy.
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Re: Training for walking downhill in gym

Postby BigMitch » Tue Apr 08, 2014 3:09 am

An old school version of microspikes are a few machine screws placed around the perimeter of the sole of the trail shoe.
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Re: Training for walking downhill in gym

Postby ExcitableBoy » Tue Apr 08, 2014 3:48 am

BigMitch wrote:An old school version of microspikes are a few machine screws placed around the perimeter of the sole of the trail shoe.

A climbing partner of mine moved to Anchorage and that is what she does when she runs in the winter.
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Re: Training for walking downhill in gym

Postby norco17 » Wed Apr 09, 2014 6:14 am

WyomingSummits wrote: How do you guys trail run in the mountains year round?


I don't. I trail run in the hills behind my house. Several hundred acres of dirt road and trail which is fairly hilly. It is at less than 1500 feet, but it works for me. You take what you can get for training.
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Re: Training for walking downhill in gym

Postby Flatlandish » Thu Jan 08, 2015 6:37 pm

How about treadmills with a decline? My wife has been wanting a treadmill and there are some that offer a -2% decline but it'll cost ya. Is a 2% decline enough to do any good if I wear a pack or should I just stick to up and down stairs and get the cheaper treadmill?
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Re: Training for walking downhill in gym

Postby spapagiannis » Fri Jan 09, 2015 8:18 am

K2:

Seems like by the original post, and your last login date, you aren't checking this any longer. But... I though I'd toss in my two cents since the topic has resurrected, and it is a good question to consider if anyone else browsing the forum wonders as well.

First off: nice job on C2C! A buddy and I went on it in the 'later season' of 2014 - certainly one heck of a haul as far as day-hikes go.

Everyone has voiced some very great considerations, and I certainly agree with them too. Trail running is fantastic, the calf-raise suggestion is on-point as are the lunges and leg extensions. It sounds that you might be in the LA area and not passing through, in which case, the back side of Griffith Park is a fantastic training course. Run up and down the usually-quiet equestrian trails, and there's a few which criss-cross nicely for short and steep uphill elevation gain conditioning runs. When I used to live in the area it was my favorite area to train. And if you're feeling up for it, a run from Burbank to "the sign" and back is 12 miles - the uphill is fantastic (and great downhill conditioning!), a combination of fire roads and equestrian trails.

You do bring up something peculiar in your question though... pain behind the knee (hamstring area). If the pain was on the outer sides of the knees, that could be an IT band strain. It won't hurt much at all on ascent, but its painful to step downward with any weight bearing. BUT, the crazy thing is that even though the pain manifests at your knees, the source lies at your hips. You'll ice and roll your knees all you want, but the pain won't let up. But instead heal and strengthen your hips, and the knee-area troubles go away entirely. Kind of wild how it manifests itself, but it can be frustrating and incapacitating for anyone - for weeks.

Image

If this happens to be the case (IT band strain), some great exercises which I can suggest are:

- 2x20 one-legged hip thrusts (1x20 each leg)
- 2x30 side-lying leg lefts (1x30 each leg) <- resistance using a Theraband around your ankles (I made a 2-foot-circumference loop)
- 2x30 side-lying clamshells (1x30 each leg) <- resistance using a Theraband just above the knees

Because of my own IT band propensity, I do a set of the above once every morning and night, regardless of being a rest-day or hike/climb/scramble day, just to keep the hips strong and everything in-check. Ever since, IT band issues and knee pain have not resurfaced. If you can't buy a Theraband specifically, the generic rubber stretch bands from Sports Authority et al work just the same.


However, aside from whether it's an IT band issue or not, some other great considerations for downhill, to support those by everyone else, are to consider trekking poles. They won't make a trek any easier, per se. They'll just re-distribute part of the load-bearing onto your upper body. Even if you don't need them for ascent, it's nice to have a pair (or at least one) on descent.

Another thing to consider specifically regarding training and fitness is to use free weights. Or rather, strike a balance between machines and free weights. The great thing about machines is they clinically isolate and focus specific muscles and muscle groups. But, I've learned this can also be a not so great thing. They offer limited 'functional' stress training on your body. Seated leg extension and leg press (or even bicep curls) only translate the muscle in 2 dimensions - while the other muscles of the body are suspended at rest: whether sitting in a chair, or legs/arms rested against a pad to control range of motion. The great thing about free weights though, is that when do the equivalent exercises, you are instead translating in 3 dimensions, much in the same way when you are hiking and such: the range of motion is larger, each 'rep' doesn't happen exactly the same way each time, tendons and secondary/tertiary muscle groups and core become involved for balance and agility, and you are load bearing - even your own weight (for example, a triceps dip machine at 60-70 lbs versus doing tricep dips on bars suspending your own body weight). Doing a combination of machines and free weights strikes a great balance all the way around, in my opinion.

My overall understanding is that the hamstrings will take the most brunt, since we're often heel-striking on a downhill step with our leg full extended. Then the quads take it secondarily as we begin to bear weight on the leg and shift weight - rinse and repeat. Here are some great gym exercises to try adding for leg-strength, much of which will strengthen ability to handle downhill:

- Sled Push and Pull w/ weight (in place of leg extension and leg press machine) <- these are fantastic for cardio when done in sets, feels like HIIT stress on the lungs/heart for me
- Standing Calf Raise w/ dumbbells (in place of calf raise machine) <- great for balance strengthening too
- Straight-Legged Deadlift w/ kettlebell (in place of leg curl machine) <- I actually can't much use the machine version, it stresses my hamstrings in an unnatural position
- Lunges (as mentioned by others, with free weights as-needed)
- Squats (as mentioned by others, with free weights as-needed) <- forcing my feet pressure to twist outward, but not actually twisting them, I find gives me a better stretch
- Reverse Step-Up w/ dumbbells
- One-Legged Deadlift w/ dumbbells <- not particularly for knees, but good for hip and ankle stability to help thwart knee issues

Likely not best to do them all at once :D Personally, I break these into 2 different gym routines.


Two other techniques to use when actually out trekking on really steep downhill are to use a combination of small-steps (shuffles) or a weaving path (weaving, as in, within a trail's boundary if there is a trail). The shuffling helps both keep the heavy load off of your legs on big downhill steps, it keeps your center of gravity nice a low from accelerating. Weaving gently back and forth can also aid in cushioning you from the stressful "STOMP!" of a steep downhill step drop - and again, arrest a downward acceleration. On very steep and loose-dirt slopes I've found a combo of the two to work quite well. These won't solve the downhill issues through training, but they are useful techniques for negotiating some downhill terrain.

But... maybe this will be of help too, along with everyone else's great ideas.
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Re: Training for walking downhill in gym

Postby spapagiannis » Fri Jan 09, 2015 8:36 am

Flatlandish wrote:How about treadmills with a decline? My wife has been wanting a treadmill and there are some that offer a -2% decline but it'll cost ya. Is a 2% decline enough to do any good if I wear a pack or should I just stick to up and down stairs and get the cheaper treadmill?


In my opinion, a 2 degree decline is quite minimal - too minimal - not enough that I would personally pay for if I was considering such a purchase. Than again, I personally like to train as functional as possible when I have to use the gym. What might seem average for incline/ascent rate on a mountain hike/climb might seem ridiculous by 'gym standard' when I translate it into an appropriate exercise for my needs on a treadmill or stairmaster. Streets, sidewalks, trails, and small hills will probably be more abundant to find and train on around your area, which could have larger and more fulfilling declines than 2 degrees.

However, I did see a set of treadmills at the gym I go to which goes to as much as a 30 degree incline (!!). I'll have to see if it has a belt-reverse option (in order to use it as decline) and report back what make and model. Though I'm guessing for safety issues of facing backwards from controls, it probably won't.
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Re: Training for walking downhill in gym

Postby Flatlandish » Sat Jan 10, 2015 4:01 am

There's not even a gentle slope anywhere where I live in Florida. I run a nearby bridge and the back stairwell of the 5 story building where I work. I appreciate the advice on the treadmill.
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Re: Training for walking downhill in gym

Postby spapagiannis » Sat Jan 10, 2015 4:55 am

Here's what I found that it was:

http://www.freemotionfitness.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/Product_-1_10001_10002_60501_193679

It only goes to a 3 degree decline. I saw someone using that mode today and frankly didn't notice much of any slope on it at all. Bridges and foot bridges are a good call though, they usually have a nice incline/decline.
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Re: Training for walking downhill in gym

Postby aglane » Mon Feb 09, 2015 1:09 am

spapagiannis wrote:Two other techniques to use when actually out trekking on really steep downhill are to use a combination of small-steps (shuffles) or a weaving path (weaving, as in, within a trail's boundary if there is a trail). The shuffling helps both keep the heavy load off of your legs on big downhill steps, it keeps your center of gravity nice a low from accelerating. Weaving gently back and forth can also aid in cushioning you from the stressful "STOMP!" of a steep downhill step drop - and again, arrest a downward acceleration. On very steep and loose-dirt slopes I've found a combo of the two to work quite well. These won't solve the downhill issues through training, but they are useful techniques for negotiating some downhill terrain.

Very useful comments from spapagiannis. In re. shuffles and weaving: are you seeing these entirely different from widening the stance and rocking/waddling to keep some of the acceleration transferred to sideways? With knees kept bent, I've found this an effective tactic to keep underway with much diminished impact stress. It's something like an oldster's modification of an 'alpine hop, ' which I recall as more or less running downhill with a wide stance and enough transfer to sideways/horizontal to keep in control.
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Re: Training for walking downhill in gym

Postby spapagiannis » Mon Feb 09, 2015 6:26 am

aglane wrote:
spapagiannis wrote:Two other techniques to use when actually out trekking on really steep downhill are to use a combination of small-steps (shuffles) or a weaving path (weaving, as in, within a trail's boundary if there is a trail). The shuffling helps both keep the heavy load off of your legs on big downhill steps, it keeps your center of gravity nice a low from accelerating. Weaving gently back and forth can also aid in cushioning you from the stressful "STOMP!" of a steep downhill step drop - and again, arrest a downward acceleration. On very steep and loose-dirt slopes I've found a combo of the two to work quite well. These won't solve the downhill issues through training, but they are useful techniques for negotiating some downhill terrain.

Very useful comments from spapagiannis. In re. shuffles and weaving: are you seeing these entirely different from widening the stance and rocking/waddling to keep some of the acceleration transferred to sideways? With knees kept bent, I've found this an effective tactic to keep underway with much diminished impact stress. It's something like an oldster's modification of an 'alpine hop, ' which I recall as more or less running downhill with a wide stance and enough transfer to sideways/horizontal to keep in control.


Actually, I haven't tried that 'alpine hop' technique. In theory it sounds like it would work just as effective. What I've liked about using the shuffles and weaving is that I find it to be quite nimble for stop/start and turning. However, this may be totally different if I'm wearing something larger than a 30L pack and no other gear in-tote.

I can definitely see your technique working very well when carry a lot of weight which could wobble one's balance - maybe even better than what I proposed. I've got something to experiment with next time, thanks for the suggestion! :D
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Re: Training for walking downhill in gym

Postby peninsula » Fri May 15, 2015 3:57 pm

This might sound counter intuitive, but cycling long uphill grades while keeping the heels neutral (feels like the heels are held down at the bottom of the arc) works the hams and gluts really well. Of course, the quads get engaged too, but less so if you can keep the heels down. Cycling will work the necessary muscle groups without wearing and tearing as much on the knees. Lastly, when hiking downhill with a pack, take a load off the knees by using a staff or other such device. I prefer a single staff, but most others I see on the trail seem to prefer poles.
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