During my training hikes these past 6 months, an old overuse injury (“IT band syndrome”) reoccurred (see previous blog post here). I saw a physical therapist a few years ago about this, but I thought that that was all behind me. Back in February, I had some knee pain again during a backpacking trip where I carried a fire rake strapped to my pack in the snow (probably not the smartest thing I’ve done….). This pain scared the heck out of me, but provided further motivation to work on improving my alignment and hiking technique.
I was really thrilled when Barefoot Jake offered to talk with me about my form and posture. Jake is a backpacker and uses minimalist footwear, and has a background in coaching. The advice he gave me that helped me the most was how to maintain awareness of my form and how to initiate movement. The other part that was really helpful was hearing how everyone is different and how important it is to listen to your body and adjust accordingly. On my hikes since then, I've been paying close attention to my alignment, especially on the downhills when I’m tired and more prone to getting sloppy. I've also been careful to stretch, to not overdo it, and not carry large wooden-handled tools strapped to my pack to throw me off balance. Happy to report that I haven't had any more knee pain.
|Walking mindfully in the snow. Photo by Stacy Boone.|
So a big thanks to Barefoot Jake. Check out his website with lots of informative articles on barefoot and minimalist hiking and don't hesitate to give him a shout if you have questions.
I've also been anticipating potential problems with my feet. Blisters are often a problem for hikers in So. Cal on the PCT. During our snow skills course, one of the things that Stacy stressed was the importance of taking care of our feet and regularly stopping to air them out, treat hot spots, and keep them moisturized. I've never had big problem with blisters and I've never needed to put lotion or body glide on my feet before, so this is going to be new to me.
|Checking my feet during a rest break. They are looking happy so far and I'm trying to keep them that way.|
|Renee and I in our Altras.|
During my snow skills course, I wore my Altras so I could test them for the Sierra. It may sound strange to wear light, non-waterproof trail runners in the snow, but I found a way to keep my toes from going numb with cold in them. I used a layering system, starting with thin smartwool socks, then rocky gortex socks, then warmer hiking socks, then plastic bags, and finally two pair of gaiters (dirty girls and gortex tall gaiters). I'm happy I can use these same shoes and just send myself the gortex socks (and perhaps the gortex gaiters) when I enter the Sierra.
|Sock and gaiter layers system for snow.|
Disclaimer: All the opinions expressed are my own and I paid for these shoes with my own money.