Healthy Knees for Running
For many runners knee pain is a familiar problem. However, knee pain is not inevitable. You can take some simple steps before, during, and after your run to help prevent knee pain.
The warm-up is one of the most important parts of any run. 10-15 minutes should be an adequate length to comfortably raise your heart rate and bring increased blood flow to your muscles. In addition to preventing injury, warming-up can help decrease your recovery time and improve muscle function while you are exercising.
While you are running the surface you choose can make a huge difference. Softer surfaces can cushion impact on your joints. Try running on a track, trail, grass or even asphalt (it’s softer than concrete) Keep in mind that some streets or trails have a ‘cross-slope’ to allow for rainwater drainage and can have an effect on your stride and alignment. Try to make sure the same leg isn’t always on the ‘downhill side’.
Cool down for 10 minutes following your workout to allow your heart rate and muscles time to adjust. Like warming-up, cooling down helps prevent injury and reduce recovery time.
Stretching after a run can be a great way to keep your body supple and help you maintain your flexibility. Try some of the stretches below. Each should be held for 30 seconds and performed twice on both sides.
• Calf (both with a straight & bent knee) Place the leg to be stretched behind you with your heel down and knee bent or straight. Rest your hands on a wall, tree or car, and lean forward until you feel a gentle stretch at the back of your calf
• Hamstrings (back of thigh) Place the leg to be stretched out in front of you or up on a step or bench. Bend at the hips keeping your back straight until you feel a stretch at the back of your thigh
• Quadriceps (front of thigh) Standing, bend the knee of the leg to be stretched and gently pull foot & ankle towards the buttocks feeling a stretch in the front of the thigh.
• Hip flexors (front of hip) Kneel on one knee with the other leg in front in a lunge position. Tuck your hips under and lean forward to feel a stretch at the front of your hip.
• Gluteals (back of hip) While sitting hug your knee toward your opposite shoulder to feel a stretch at the back of your hip.
Before, during, and after a run hydration and nutrition are key to keep your body running optimally. Be sure to drink plenty of water!
Cross training is a great way to train other muscles, give your body a break from impact, and keep you healthy and strong.