Outdoor Education: Apply Hand Pressure at the Knee, Not the Thigh When Ascending Steep Hills

Outdoor Education: Apply Hand Pressure at the Knee, Not the Thigh When Ascending Steep Hills

Dick Moss, Editor, PE Update.com

    When students encounter a steep hill on a hike, you'll

Outdoor Education: Apply Hand Pressure at the 
Knee, Not the Thigh When Ascending Steep Hills
often see them using their hands to push downwards on their thighs as a way to assist their legs. Using the arms  helps the legs to apply more force against the ground.
    However, when using this instinctive technique, many students make the mistake of placing the hands at mid-thigh. While this does apply more pressure against the ground, the hand is also pushing downward on a limb that is attempting to lift upward. So it's resisting the leg's attempt to straighten.
A Better Technique
    A more efficient technique is to place the hands on the knees instead of mid-thigh. The hands are positioned with the thumb on the inside, the middle finger on the outside, and the index finger floating in the middle.
    Pressure is then applied
directly downward through  the knee and vertically-aligned shin— a more efficient
application of force that does not put pressure on the thigh as it straightens.
    Students should only exert pressure when the legs are pushing downward. The hands should release as the knee lifts, although they should remain near or on the knee as it moves up and forward.
Efficient Technique: Applying Downward Pressure to the Knee
Efficient Technique: Applying Downward Pressure to the Knee

Demonstration
    You can demonstrate this pressure-on-the-knee principle to your students as they are sitting at their desk. Have them sit on the edge of their chair and use their hands to push on the legs as they rise into an upright position. Perform this movement in two ways:
1.  With their hands at mid-thigh.
2. With their hands on their knees.

Have them compare the ease with which they can rise out of their chair. They'll find that applying pressure at the knees makes this task noticeably easier.

Reference: Norman Matthews, The Ups and Downs of Fell Running. Your Personal Trainer, September 2007.


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