It's not the uphills, but the downhills

Discussion in 'Barefoot & Minimalist Hiking' started by Scratch, Oct 7, 2013.

  1. Scratch Barefooters
    1. Pennsylvania

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    [IMG]

    I have a couple of other pics of me barefooting for some of the hike on Saturday.

    It turned out to be a very strenuous hike and I've come to think that barefooting along with use of the Xeros for the rest of it led to an effect I did not quite anticipate -- my quads got trashed. Badly enough I'm still quite sore this morning, and have to take steps rather gingerly.

    Mostly, I was very happy with how things went. I can walk pretty comfortably over stuff now that makes others wince to think about it. Much of what I hiked was like the pic at the top of this post, rock-strewn hillside paths. There's a reason that hikers sometimes call this state Rocksylvania and that's because of all the rocks the glaciers from the last ice age deposited here.

    But if there's one thing I've been learning about barefoot hiking, it's the downhills which are the most stressful. Psychologically you really have to work to scan and choose where the foot lands, but I also wonder now if it can have another accentuated physical effect. Many people already know how prolonged downhill running can trash a runner's quads, the repeated eccentric contractions tear up the quad muscles some and if there's enough of that, you get plenty of inflammation.

    I believe that's what put the number on me Saturday. I think when barefooting or going minimalist, you will likely bend your knees even more when making the descent. A person in shoes can brace more strongly against the foot and shoe, while we are more likely to let the knee bend further, and that increases the length of the eccentric contraction. That's my hypothesis and it could be wrong or false, or it could be my own peculiarity of gait while going downhill barefoot, or not. Maybe my thighs just got trashed because I wasn't ready for it.

    I'll post the other two pics taken of me later on when I have time this evening.

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  2. Bare Lee Chapter Presidents
    1. Minnesota

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    Looks like fun Scratch!

    As always, better sore muscles (quads in this case) than sore joints (knees).

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  3. paulbeales Administrator
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    3. United Kingdom

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    I find it is easier to bend my knees and try to jog downhill than try to walk downhill

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  4. paraganek Barefooters
    1. Oregon
    2. Czech & Slovak...

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    Yes, I do exactly the same. Walking downhill barefoot on a rocky trail is really challenging, jogging makes it much easier. I do a lot of hiking barefoot, some really steep trails. Everyone in shoes in our group always complains about sore knees after a steep descent, my knees are always fine but sometimes I can feel the quads. It's a trade-off I guess.

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  5. Scratch Barefooters
    1. Pennsylvania

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    Saturday's hike was done on the eastern side of the Susquehanna river, and what happens is there are a lot of feeder creeks into the Susquehanna, and that's what creates the up-and-down effect.

    [IMG]

    One of the great things about barefoot hiking is that you don't have to worry about getting your shoes and socks wet while crossing a creek. I did that a few times, where I just splashed across while the others were jumping from rock to rock.

    The following shot shows some of the steep slopes that were being ascended and descended.

    [IMG]

    Finally, a couple more shots that were taken of me.

    [IMG]

    [IMG]

    It was really warm and humid Saturday, that's why I took off the shirt. I tend to overheat easily, it's certainly not to show off my chest.

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  6. Larry Barefooters
    1. Australia

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    Sep 13, 2012
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    Great photos there - looks like a great walk. The view in the last shot is impressive, and the camera did a good job picking it up with that blinding white flash in the foreground. :p

    I used to do a lot of hiking, and I was always happy to walk uphill all day rather than do lots of downhill stuff, especially with a heavy pack on. That was in shoes, and I can imagine that you would be right about using the knees and quads more if you do it barefoot.
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  7. rickwhitelaw Barefooters
    1. Utah

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    Great photos Scratch. Thanks for sharing. Looks like a nice hiking area.

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  8. Ahcuah Barefooters

    Member Since:
    Mar 13, 2011
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    A hiking stick really helps for the downhills.
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  9. Longboard Chapter Presidents
    1. Michigan
    2. Presidents

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    Still looks like fun!

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