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Locking Knees while Hiking, Is it practiced?
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Brian Johns

Locale: NorCal
Locking Knees while Hiking, Is it practiced? on 07/26/2012 16:05:58 MDT Print View

While in Greece in 2000, I climbed Mount Olympus with a group from my university. One of the professors at the time was a triathlon competitor and stated that he locked his knee, fully straightening his leg after each step. The reason, and this is also practiced with bicycle seat height (i.e., legs locked straight when that foot's pedal is down) is that it allows the thigh muscle to fully relax on the return from each steap, or for a cyclist, on each rotation of the pedals.

In practice, it does not come naturally to me, so I tend to use it when I feel that I may be getting tired as a way to conserve some energy/muscle strength. Does anyone here follow this practice, or are you familiar with similar approaches. I tried to search, but the terms were a little obscure to get any good results.

Edited by bcutlerj on 07/26/2012 16:07:09 MDT.

d k
(dkramalc) - MLife
Re: Locking Knees while Hiking, Is it practiced? on 07/26/2012 16:23:11 MDT Print View

Yes, I think this is what you mean:

I've used this at times for going uphill, mostly when I'm getting fatigued as you say. For extreme cases (going up steep snow slope) I've used something called the French step, but I could not find a good reference online for that.

Duane Hall
(PKH) - M

Locale: Nova Scotia
Locking those knees on the uphills on 07/27/2012 03:49:35 MDT Print View

Also known as the rest step, or mountaineering step. I use it on long, steep climbs, and it works. It certainly doesn't feel natural at first, but after a bit I get into a good rhythm.

Nathan Hays

Locale: San Francisco
Knee locking on 07/27/2012 09:29:56 MDT Print View

According to the wiki the rest step has a pause before you move on?

As a grade steepens, I switch over to a knee-locking step and it comes naturally for me. There is no pause involved. It is slower, so for me its use follows the slower pace of a climb.

The best way I can describe it is to think of pulling your knee backwards rather than stepping/powering up. There is a distinct transfer of effort more to the glutes and off the thighs. It is amazing how long one can go without stopping as compared to the kind of gait you would use for climbing stairs for example.

And on stair climbing, you can do the same lock-step, but you have to do a mini-hop up to get there. The hop should be short and quick, almost explosive. It takes practice to get the hop just right for different trail stairs so you don't overshoot. Again, if climbing stairs wears your quads out fast, you'll be amazed at how far the hop step can take you.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Knee locking on 07/27/2012 17:57:30 MDT Print View

I cringe at the thought of a mini hyper extension, or risk thereof, every time I do a lock step. Over time it seems to me it would wear away the edge of the meniscus. I have always hiked with my knees slightly flexed, relying on proper quad conditioning to take the load. My 2 cents.

Piper S.
(sbhikes) - F

Locale: Santa Barbara (Name: Diane)
Re: Locking Knees while Hiking, Is it practiced? on 07/27/2012 20:54:34 MDT Print View

I will rest-step up a steep hill if I'm tired. Otherwise, I just walk like normal. It doesn't tire me much to just walk along normal.