Avoid Knee Pain Caused By Running05 May, 2013 0 comments
How to avoid knee pain caused by running?
Knee pain is the most common problem faced by runners. However, running itself is not the cause of the pain. Instead, it is the way you train that might be causing it, which is why most knee pain can be avoided by changing some training habits. Avoiding injury in the knees is important because it contributes to a steady training regime, to improved running performance, and to the long-term health of your knee joints. Lesson to take home from this – taking care of your knees is crucial!
Stephen Pribut, a sports podiatrist who specialises on running injuries, explains that it is difficult to pinpoint one cause to knee pain, which might appear due to different biomechanical or muscular causes. However, here are a number of steps you can take to avoid pain or to get rid of it, addressing a number of possible underlying issues.
1. If you are already experiencing pain, give your knees a rest - The pain in your knees is a signal that something is wrong. You might have microscopic tears in your muscles or tendons, and these will need time to heal. Thus, you should take a break from running. If you feel like you need to continue your exercise regime in the meantime, try walking, swimming or training on an elliptical instead to reduce impact to the knees. Remember, the sooner you let your knees rest, the faster the healing will begin.
2. Increase your training load gradually – When you suddenly step up your training load, this can increase the impact to your knees. Therefore, it is important to increase distance and intensity gradually, so that your legs can get used to the strain of the training. Increasing your training load by 10% in a week should be the maximum for maintaining healthy knees.
3. Make sure you use a good form of running – A proper technique assures that you minimize impact to your knees while running. If you want to perfect your form, a visit to a running coach is a good idea that can save you from later injury. Here are some aspects to keep in mind, however. Make sure your feet land underneath your body instead of ahead of you at each step, and you land on your midfoot, keeping your knees soft and bent. In addition, make sure your feet are pointed in the direction you are running. Changing your running technique will take time, but the reduced risk of injury is well worth the effort.
4. Use the right shoes – To avoid knee pain, you need shoes that properly support your feet. This means first that you should not be using just any old pair of sneakers. In addition, everybody’s feet are a bit different – high arches and flat feet require different support. It is a good idea to visit a shop that offers the possibility to analyse your stride, so that you can buy a pair of shoes that match your feet, providing adequate stability and reducing constant twisting of joints that can contribute to knee pain.
5. Do your stretches – Although stretching should already be a part of your running regime, you should pay extra attention to it if you are concerned about knee pain. Before every running session, take some time to stretch your calves and hamstrings. This will prevent overpronation of the feet and therefore improve the stability of your running technique. Additionally, training that incorporates a lot of stretching – like yoga – might be beneficial for the health of your knees.
6. Strengthen your quadriceps –Strong quadriceps help to prevent knee pain by improving stability in the knees and preventing patella tendon injuries. Therefore, you should add exercises that strengthen quadriceps into you training regime. For example, you might try a variety of squatting and stepping exercises with weights, but make sure you pay attention to your form in those exercises, as poor form can result in opposite results for your knees.
7. Avoid running on hard surfaces – Running is a high-impact sport, which means that every step can produce stress on your knee joint. Running on softer surfaces reduces this impact. Therefore, if it is possible, run on trails of grass and dirt, opting for running in parks instead of the streets. If this is not possible and you have to make do with hard surfaces, asphalt is easier on the knees than concrete, being a better choice for the long-term health of your knees in a city environment.
8. Maintain a healthy weight – Extra weight puts more pressure on the knee joints, which make your knees more prone to injury. Therefore, runners are recommended to maintain a healthy weight. If you have a lot of weight to lose and are worried about the impact of your weight to your knees, try starting with a training regimen that is easier for the knees, like walking or swimming, and then incorporate running at a later stage.
9. Avoid wearing heels – If you are a woman who wears heels in everyday situations, chances are you are impacting your knees with this habit. High heels put extra pressure on the inside of the knee, which can increase the chance of injury. For the health of you knees, light, flexible, and flat shoes are the best. If you swear by wearing heels, prefer lower pairs and stretch your legs regularly.
10. If the pain does not subside or get better, consult a doctor – There are a number of reasons behind knee pain that emerges when you run. Although most pain can be avoided by the strategies described above, you should consult a doctor if the pain gets worse and doesn’t go away. This way you will find out the reason behind your suffering quickly, so you can take needed steps towards recovery and return to your training regime as soon as possible.
When you experience discomfort in your knees during a run, your body is telling you that there is a problem. By listening to your body and working to avoid further injury, you contribute both to your performance and long-term health. Take care of those knees of yours!