Hike Like a Goat: Part 5—Ankles and Knees

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Knees and ankles warmed up and ready to climb!

Hike like a Goat

A 7-Part Skills Series

Part 5— Ankles and Knees

This 7-part series came out of a conversation that my Honey and I had about being sure footed on the trail. She wanted to leave the fear of falling behind with all of its timidness and tentativeness. In other words she wanted to Hike Like a Goat. When I said that the first time to her, she wanted to know what that meant because it sounded derogatory…until I explained: a goat is confident  and relaxed on rugged and uneven ground—so stable and skilled on her feet is that goat that falling is not even a fleeting thought. Walking Like a Goat is a high complement for any Honey on the trail.

We are going to unpack Part 5 of this series called:

Ankles and Knees

We are mostly a domestic society that strives to live on flat surfaces. We like the floors in our houses and work place buildings to be level. We like our driveways to at least be flat even if they have an elevation change. Most sports are learned and played on level surfaces that could even be called smooth. We frequently associate flat, level and smooth walking surfaces in construction with quality craftsmanship.

As a result in our modern culture at least in part during work and play, our knees and ankles are strong in ways that effectively facilitate our movement on surfaces that are flat and level.

Therefore, our knees and ankles have to be trained or “re-terrained” for a different terrain!

  • practice—this is my favorite! My Honey and I just started walking on trails. We paid careful attention to little “adjuster muscles” in her knees and ankles that had to get stronger. As the foot pushes off of different angles of surface to move the body forward, it does so with a completely different combination of muscles. Your foot will land in “oh say, 42” different positions that you need to practice. The forrest floor “ain’t yo daddy’s basket court.” There really is nothing I am aware of that will adequately simulate the variety but practice. Practice for longer periods of time incrementally and your muscles will “catch on”. Loral and I used these time of building strength as times to talk, plan and remember.
  • sumo squats—for me this was like magic! I had problems with long downhill distances on the trail before I met my Honey.  A friend suggested sumo squats and I faithfully did them prior to my next trip. Wow! for me that was the key to strengthen my weak spot. I went from pain that was unbearable at times to the occasional sore knee that just needed a little rest and a message I could do with my own hands. I can’t say what will be the magic method for you, but I can recommend doing these well for a few weeks—just see if it will help.
  • more quad exercises—the improvements from the easy practice of doing 3 sets of 8 sumo squats for 3 weeks did me so much good that I searched for an app for my phone that would guide me through a series of leg exercises. I found one that I liked that had me execute lots of lunges, climb up and down on a chair, do toe raises on stairs and lots of other things. My point is that I believed that if one easy exercise could do me so much good…that I was guaranteed even better results from a more developed routine. Right? The result was the end to my knee pain all together. No more hatred for the long down hill climb. (incidentally, this made me able to run up steep hills like a machine—nice side effect)
Rond de jambe in hiking boots?

My Honey is working through the process of finding the exercises that will give her the strength that she needs to eliminate the struggle she sometimes has with knee pain. She’ll tell you more about that as she gets it worked out…it will have something to do with rond de jambe and plie, I am sure.

I refuse to let pain be the end of the amazing adventures that lay ahead for my Honey and me.


Is there an “ouchy” that keeps you from the trail? Do you still go but some pain slows you down? Would you be willing to give 15 minutes a day to strengthen your knees and ankles so you could really enjoy the trail?

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