Runner’s knee is no joke. It’s one of the most common causes of chronic knee pain and can deeply restrict your range of motion. Simple movements like kneeling, squatting, and walking up steps might be painful, while heavy exercises like running can be excruciating. If you’re worried about developing runner’s knee, here are a few tips to improve your workouts and avoid this sidelining injury.
What is Runner’s Knee?
Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome, also known as “runner’s knee,” is a broad term used to describe many common ailments that cause knee pain. Most root causes of runner’s knee involve weak hip or back muscles, a tight IT band, or even a direct injury to the knee joint from a fall.
It’s a common misconception that only runners and athletes get runner’s knee. Because it’s an umbrella term for multiple knee problems, runner’s knee can appear in almost any person of any fitness level. Even those who work at a desk can develop runner’s knee if they don’t take enough breaks to stretch and move.
How to Prevent Runner’s Knee
Some cases of runner’s knee can be more severe than others, and a full recovery could take anywhere from weeks to months. Staying sidelined with knee pain for so long can be difficult, especially if you’re trying to reach your fitness goals. Fortunately, there are a few proactive steps you can take to protect yourself from runner’s knee and avoid knee pain.
1) Lace-up with the Right Shoes
Your workouts will be much safer if you’re in proper footwear. Running shoes aren’t meant to last forever and should be replaced after several months of regular use. Your arches can also impact what running shoes you buy, as someone with flat feet won’t want the same running shoes as someone with a more pronounced arch. Go to a local running store where you can get professionally fitted with the right pair that will help improve your form and keep you pain free.
2) Don’t Skip the Warm Up
Instead of jumping straight into your workout, always warm up with a few dynamic stretches first. Gradually increase the intensity to avoid overusing or tearing a muscle. Focus on recovery and static stretches after your workout to reduce muscle soreness and improve your mobility. Mobility tools like the foam roller can easily release any built-up tension or muscle knots that might appear after a run.
3) Check Your Surroundings
Your environment can significantly impact how much wear and tear your body sustains during a run. Softer surfaces like dirt trails and rubber tracks will not impact your joints as much as concrete or sidewalks. If you’re running outside, pay attention to raised surfaces, objects, or holes that you might easily trip over. Overextension from a fall can also cause a serious knee injury if you’re not careful.
4) Watch Your Form
It doesn’t matter if you’re running, biking, pivoting, or kicking a ball. Proper form can make a huge difference in how your body handles your movements. For instance, if you’re running hunched over, bent at the waist, or overextending your legs, your body will respond negatively with joint pain and lost energy. By practicing proper form, you learn to use energy wisely, exercise efficiently, and avoid many workout-related injuries.
5) Mix It Up by Cross Training
One of the best ways to avoid overuse injuries like runner’s knee is by cross-training cardio with strengthening exercises. Try adding a few back, abdominal, and hip strengthening exercises into your workouts to help support your knees.
Below are a few exercises you can try to strengthen your hips and legs to reduce knee pain.
Even if you’re not very active, consider adding these exercises to your daily routine. You might be surprised at how effective they can be at building muscle strength and reducing joint pain.
Running Pain Free with Airrosti
If knee pain or other problems are tripping you up, schedule an appointment with Airrosti today. Our expert providers specialize in diagnosing and treating pain at the source, efficiently resolving most patient cases in as few as three visits (based on patient-reported outcomes). Find an Airrosti provider near you today so you can get back to doing the things you love most.
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