Love Grinding it out on Grouse? Some Tips for Enjoying it to the Fullest While Preventing Common Hiking Injuries.
Did you know that the Grouse Grind has 251 more steps of stairs than the CN Tower and is also a whole 300 metres higher? This “Nature’s Stairmaster” hosts over 100,000 hikers annually, with the average hike being roughly an hour and a half. Most of us go to Grouse Mountain to satisfy our masochistic tendencies – to gasp for air, to feel our muscles and lungs burn all the while wondering in the back of our heads – when the hell am I going to get to the top and enjoy a snack and an ice-cold beverage?
However, there are also many other activities in addition to hiking the Grouse Grind that you can enjoy:
Get Jacked! Watch a fast-paced and exciting show as lumberjacks as they climb a 60-foot tree, chop springboards and even throw axes! Enjoy 45-minute shows this summer at 12 p.m., 2:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.
Take in the view at the Eye of the Wind – a fully functioning wind turbine located at the peak. This gigantic wind turbine, at 1231 metres above sea level, is the highest man-made structure located in the lower mainland. You can take an elevator up to its viewing dome, the ‘ViewPOD’, which offers a full 360-degree view of beautiful Grouse Mountain and the Lower Mainland.
Go Paragliding from the very Peak of Grouse Mountain and soar for 3,300 feet!
A zipline tour through the peaks and canyons of Grouse and Dam Mountains – you can book a 45-minute to one hour trip across three ziplines or a two hour trip across five ziplines.
Hike the other trails, which meander through Grouse Mountain.
Visit the Grizzly habitat to see Grouse Mountain’s resident Grizzlies – Grinder and Coola! There will also be majestic owls and grey wolves, as well as humming birds flitting about their feeding stations.
Now that we have prepared you for all of the things that Grouse Mountain offers, we are going to make sure you stay healthy enough to enjoy them. The most common concern and injury for hikers (and runners, skiers and cyclists) is “runner’s knee.” Just like how tennis elbow is not caused by tennis alone, running is not the only cause of runner’s knee. Here are some reasons why you may be suffering from runner’s knee:
Worn hiking boots
Overuse of the knee joint and its surrounding muscles
Muscular weakness in the quadriceps and hamstrings – the front and back of the upper part of your knee, respectively
Bad technique where your lower leg twists inward when hiking, running or walking.
Downhill hiking: your joints absorb more impact than uphill hiking, and as a result your knees get worn out
Here are 5 tips to prevent your knees from receiving abuse and overuse:
Strengthen your leg muscles – especially the ones that support your knees like your quadriceps, hamstrings and calves. Do a variety of exercises like lunges, step-ups, squats and hyperextensions.
Bring along one or two knee bandages/braces during your hike just in case, so if your knees ache, you can give them some extra support.
Use a hiking stick or hiking sticks for support – any weight taken off your knees will put less stress on them and lessen the chances of knee pain.
Don’t overexert yourself – if your knees begin to hurt, slow down or take a break to give your body time to rest itself.
When going downhill, be slow and deliberate – the faster you go, the less control and calculation you will have in your steps, which will result in a greater chance of knee pain.
Too late – my knees are already hurt. What do I do?
Do not try to work through the pain – this will only exacerbate the problem
Soak your knees in cold water, or ice them to reduce inflammation. (Never put ice directly on skin – always have a towel or layers of tissue in between to prevent ice burn and skin damage)
Wear knee braces to give extra support
Take ibuprofen or other anti-inflammatory drugs
Consider seeing a Vancouver Physiotherapist if your condition persists or worsens
Get better shoes to better absorb the impact of hiking/running
Now that you are armed with this knowledge, go out and have a blast hiking the Grouse Grind!
Written by Nadeem Kassam, co-founder of Connectthedoc.com, and guest contributor to Vancity Buzz. Connect the Doc is an online service that helps Vancouverites find, book, and confirm healthcare appointments online, 24/7. Here’s an interview we had last year with co-founder, and Nadeem’s brother, Nash.
Featured Image: Grouse Grind via Shutterstock