Needy Knees – what helps?

By our very own Walking Woman Helen …

Needy Knees10 years ago I hobbled down Ben Nevis, my 8 year old son, skipping ahead impatient with my speed and the need to periodically walk backwards to relieve the pain in my knees.

It had been a long day and although elated by the fact that I had completed the 3 national Peaks and inspired my son with a love of walking, I was subdued by pain and the impacts on my arthritic condition. Walking was what I did.  It was how I spent my holidays.  Not walking for pleasure was not an option.

10 years on, I have been told I need 2 new knees – but I am pushing it back for as long as possible.  I don’t climb mountains any more, but I have now been on three different  Walking Women holidays – all goat 2 – and a complete joy – partially thanks to my knee management  strategies which I hope might help others.

What can you do ?

  1. Make sure you have good knee supports

Knee supports have come on a long way in recent years.  There is no longer the need to put up with the discomfort of elasticated tubes bunching up at the back of your joint, creating sores. There is now a vast array of sleeves, straps, supports and braces available with prices range from under a tenner to over £600.  It can be bamboozling …..

In my experience, more expensive does not equal better.  But a good ‘fitting’ is essential. (You can do this at home and order online). I avoid the metal braces and Velcro fastenings which I find clunky, difficult to fit and too visible. The ones I have used for the last 8 years are sleeves – that I can pull on under my capri length walking trousers (and take off easily while sitting in a bar at the end of the days hike!)  They are long, spreading the support throughout my joint and have a padded oval area over the knee cap that holds it firmly in place and provides amazing support. Two plastic rods within the breathable fabric ensure it doesn’t bunch up and stays in place throughout the day. Machine washable (although I rarely do this) they have lasted years and cost under £60.  I use one on each knee.

Needy Knees

Bauerfeind Knee Support find out more here .

  1. Have an anti inflammatory gel with you

My GP recommended Voltarel 12 hour – joint and back pain relief. It has a higher percentage of Diclofenac and works for me.  Daily topical application means I no longer have swelling on a daily basis

3. Use Walking poles and do travel with them

There are a vast array on the market at significantly different prices! The quality of the pole makes no difference to me – just the fact that I have them – particularly for downhill.  They take the pressure of my knees (someone once told me poles can take up to 60% pressure off your knees). I use whatever is available where I am walking.  If I need to take my own, I use the ones that my mum bought for stability.  They are telescopic so fold up neatly.  Again ‘fit’ is important … as is weight.  There is plenty of advice online!

Top Tips on Walking Poles from The Independent Newspaper

Two things to bear in mind: you do need good upper body strength to use walking poles to support your knees.  While poles do provide good arm exercise, I recommend using them for sometime, before using them to support knee issues – as you may merely exchange knee discomfort for aching arms!

Secondly, airport and airline policies towards walking poles vary considerably.  Stansted airport have let me take them on board (on the basis they were essential to my mobility!)  whereas Dalaman confiscated them. If you have precious poles I suggest they go into your hold luggage to ensure they get to your destination! You may get away with them in hand luggage …. and you may be able to walk through an airport using them – but there’s a risk with both options!

We believe it is important to share tips from people who have real experience. You may have other tips so please do share on our community FaceBook Page or by emailing us on and we will share in our next newsletter.

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