This recent study reduced patellofemoral pain in runners, but the adjustments are worth experimenting with if you’re dealing with knee pain in hiking.
The first intervention that reduced the knee pain was about lessening the impact. They used all kinds of tech-related cues to make that happen, but the two key low-tech cues were the instructions to run softer and make footfalls quieter.
The second intervention was about increasing cadence. “Cadence group participants received guidance regarding their cadence and ran with the help of a metronome with an adjusted cadence increased by 7.5 to 10%.” But hey, I’m sure there’s an app for that.
Both groups then ran with this new running pattern for the next six months and reported greater knee pain improvement than the control group (a group that did fuck all).
There is one caveat, though. The study group was only 30 people (13 women, 17 men). Still, if you’re currently dealing with knee pain while hiking, these strategies are worth trying in real life.
Practice softer stepping for the next few weeks to see if you notice any changes. And if not, increase your cadence by 7.5-10% (if you can) and see if that makes your knee smile.