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Hiking Tips: When the fear of falling sets you up to fall

by Jane Milliff, MMSc, PTHiking Tips: When the fear of falling sets you up to fall

“Hiking downhill is harder than going up– I’m always on guard and if there’s any scree, I slip.” says my friend.

“Besides, my back gets tight and sore. If only I could hike uphill for an hour or so, then paraglide down, “she says laughing.

“Try leaning forward a bit.” I say.

“What?? That seems counter-intuitive.”

Hiking downhill can be harder than it seems. You may be so afraid of falling, that you lean back, trying to avoid careening down the hill. Your back is arched so your shoulders end up behind your center of gravity. This is exactly what not to do. This is exactly what puts you on the backs of your heels and makes it likely you will land on your backside. In an attempt to slow yourself down, you actually decrease control. With your weight on the heels, you are stepping on the proverbial banana peel and setting yourself up for a fall.

Try this instead: Tune in to your sternum, (breastbone). Where is it? Is it pointed up towards the sky or angled down, perpendicular to the ground? If your chest is out, your back is arched and your weight is on your heels. A little loose gravel will be your undoing.

Keep your chest perpendicular to the ground as you descend so your weight is evenly distributed on the soles of your feet and your back is neutral. Now you have control. Now you will feel more comfortable – in all ways – as you hike.



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