How to Prevent Knee Pain During Running
By Rommer Dizon, PT
Glen Burnie Location
Good weather has arrived! It’s time to gear up and get a good run. Spring and summer usually mean the season for running, but here in PTSMC, it also means a lot of ankle and knee pain. In this blog, we will talk about the more common pain caused by running – knee pain! Knee pain caused by running is one of the reasons why people stop running. It is caused by several factors including injury, poor posture, poor running mechanics, etc. If you have knee pain but did not have an injury, keep reading.
There are a lot of benefits that you get from running. This includes having less anxiety, a good mood, stronger muscles and cardiovascular, and weight loss. Along with the benefits come the side effects of running, and this includes joint pains, the most common of which is knee pain. Good posture and running mechanics play a great role in preventing knee pain during running. Below are some tips for improving your posture and running mechanics to prevent or even improve knee pain.
- Improving Ankle Mobility – especially dorsiflexion (the flexion of the ankle toward you). The ankle plays an important role in shock absorption during initial contact. If dorsiflexion is limited, the impact goes all the way up to the hips and knees. The knees are mostly affected because the hip has a lot of muscles around it, which helps with the dissipation of impact. Calf and soleus stretches are good exercises to improve ankle mobility.
- Landing on mid-foot instead of the heel – during running, landing on the heels naturally extend your knees. This causes a more significant impact on the knees. Practice landing on your toes in the beginning. Once you get used to this, practice landing on the balls of your foot. This will bring the center of gravity anterior to your knee, lessening the impact that your knee gets during each stance phase.
- Strengthening hip abductors (Gluteus max and Medius) - stronger hip abductors play a significant role in knee pain. During the stance phase, the supporting limb naturally goes into mild adduction (towards the midline). Strong hip abductors prevent excessive adduction by preventing the opposite hip from dropping during the single stance phase. Bridging, clamshells, and prone hip extensions are great exercises to improve these 2 muscles.
- Strengthening the core muscles – Core muscles help with control of the lumbar spine. During running, you have to stay upright and prevent poor posture. This is the role of your core muscles, to provide the lower extremities with a good base so they can do their job. Plank and side planks are very good exercises for your core.
- Taping – specifically taping the patella or knee cap. Taping helps stabilize the kneecap during running. Patellar malt racking causes pain in the knee. See your favorite PT and ask them to teach you how to tape your kneecap before running.
- Ice – ice bath after training is becoming more common in professional athletes for good reasons. Ice helps with decreasing circulation in the body, thereby decreasing inflammation which is a side effect of exercise. Get some zip lock, fill it with ice, and put it on the sore or painful knee after running. Leave it on for about 15-20 minutes. Numbness after icing is normal.
I should also add to always warm up before running and cool down after running. If the knee symptoms persist, see your PT so they can do a full evaluation or analyze your running form.