4 Things to know if you are a Runner with Knee Pain
1. Hip Strength
Strengthening up your hip muscles and gaining control of pelvic movement are extremely important for runners. A lack of strength and control can lead to unwanted movement at your pelvis which has a direct impact at your knee joint, the femur bone makes up your hip joint at one end and your knee at the other.
Additional hip strength will help with pelvic control as well as providing durability against the forces generated from running. Your hip muscles are also very important for good running technique.
Exercises like squats, lunge variations, band walks, single leg squats and single leg deadlifts are just some of many excellent exercise for runners.
2. Hip Mobility
Mobility ties in with tip 1. A lot of runners are extremely limited in their hip mobility. Some of these restrictions are due to muscle and joint stiffness while sometimes the mobility is present but simply it is not been used regularly or in many instances runners don’t know how to use the full mobility of their hip. A lot of people who take up running in their 30s and 40s may not have done any formal exercise in many years and as such may be starting from a low mobility base.
A simple routine of mobility work for the hips, done on its own or as part of a warm up, will help most runners. A lot of exercises such as squats help for strength and mobility too.
Loading refers to the volume of running and other exercise (GAA, soccer, Rugby, 5-a-side, circuit classes, CrossFit, other gym work, etc) that you do in a given week or period. Where there is a dramatic increase in overall loading over a short or long period, without adequate recovery and adaption, then pain can occur. In many cases the knee is an area that runners will feel pain.
Plan your training week to account for all of your exercise and resist the temptation to push yourself hard on back to back days. A good formula is different body parts on different days or rotate high impact with low impact days, i.e. run one day and swim or cycle the next. If coming off a lay off of 3 weeks or longer, for whatever reason, there will need to be a gradual increase to your pre lay off levels.
Running technique has not been shown by any studies to have a direct link to knee pain.
Common running errors that can cause excess forces at the knee include:
-1. Over striding (where your foot lands well forward to you body)
-2. Low cadence (the amount of times your foot hits the ground per minute)
-3. Knee valgus (where the knees go inward while running)
4. Lack of knee lift (where your knee actively moves up and forwards as you run)
All of these can be remedied with the right guidance and coaching. It is important to address technique if your knee pain is felt only when running but is fine as soon as you stop.
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