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How To Protect Your Knees When Running

Improving Range Of Motion Muscle Strength And Weight Control Can Help Reduce Pain And Make Your Knees Feel Younger

5 Ways for Runners to Protect Their Knees

Knee pain is common in older age, often caused by osteoarthritis . Fortunately, there are ways to fool Father Time and postpone knee problems or even prevent them entirely. “In many cases, you can delay or avoid the need for surgical intervention, such as a knee replacement,” says Dr. Lars Richardson, an orthopedic surgeon with Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital.

The Best Ways To Protect Your Knees When Running

Common sense says prevention is the best form of medicine. And thats what this article is about: teaching you how to prevent knees problems now so that you dont deal with issues later on. If an apple a day keeps the doctor away, a stretch a day will keep you running!

In this article, well cover different ways to protect your knees, from exercises and stretches to what to do after a run with knee pain to overall suggestions on how to deal with knee pain from running.

Eliminate The Two Main Causes Of Injury

Running injuries dont have to happen. In fact, theyre most often a result of either overuse or impact.Overuse injuries are caused by using your muscles incorrectly or beyond their capacity.Impact injuries come from over-striding or heel striking, which in essence produce a repetitive braking motion with every stride.

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How To Prevent Knee Injury And Avoid Knee Surgery

The knees are subject to injuries that include fractures of the bones around the knee, dislocation, tears of soft tissue and sprains. Knees are also injured when people do things like kneeling on hard surfaces and damaging the bursae that cushion the tendons and ligaments. Bursitis can be very painful.

Taking precautions to prevent knee injury and protecting knees during activities that have the potential to damage a knee joint, like running or jogging, can prevent some of the knee injuries people commonly experience. Precautions can also help people avoid knee surgery.

Following the suggestions for keeping joints healthy also contributes to preventing knee injury. Additional recommendations for knee injury prevention include:

  • Avoid pounding and twisting the knee joints

Some activities are hard on the knees because they pound the knee joints. They include jogging or running and aerobics. It is better to use an elliptical machine, walk or swim.

However, people who enjoy these activities are not likely to stop. If participating in them, be sure to learn how to protect knees while running by maintaining a good posture or how to do aerobics by avoiding rotation of the knees and hips. When doing sports requiring jumping, learn to keep joints aligned when landing after a jump, meaning the hips remain over the knees and the knees are over the ankles. Also, wear cushioned shoes during any knee-pounding exercise routines.

  • Keep muscles strong
  • Warm up and stretch
  • Wear knee supports

Can/should I Continue Or Take Up Running

The Best Ways To Protect Your Knees When Running

You decide.

  • Recreational runners had less chance of developing knee arthritis compared to sedentary individuals and competitive runners.
  • Running at a recreational level for many years can be safely recommended as a general health exercise, and benefits knee joint health.
  • The rate of OA increases if you are sedentary or if you are a high-volume high intensity runner , compared with regular recreational running.
  • The beneficial effects of running on general health are well established and include improved cardiovascular health, diabetic control, mental health, bone mineral density, reduced weight, potential increases in pain threshold, and balance.

In summary, the benefits of running are numerous, and the evidence suggests that you can be confident that recreational running will not harm, and may even improve, your knee joint health.

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Recover From Existing Injuries

What is the Achilles Tendon and what does it do?

The Achilles Tendon attaches your calf muscles to the back of your heel bone.

Plantar flexion is when you contract your calves and point your toes. While running, every time you toe-off, your calves fire, concentric loading of the calves, which pulls on your achilles tendon. Eccentric unloading of the calves happens when you land and your achilles tendon is recruited to help cushion the impact.

What causes an achilles tendon pull?

When going up a hill, or accelerating, conventional runners use the balls of their feet to push themselves forward, or upward, as the case may be. This puts a lot of strain on your achilles tendons because, while your calves are contracting to point your toes and push you up the hill, your achilles tendons are stretching because the weight of your body is pushing down on your heels and working against the contraction of your calves. There has to be some give somewhere and its usually at the place where your achilles tendon inserts into your heel bone.

When this attachment gets strained it can become inflamed , which can be very painful and can bring your training program to a grinding halt. When runners experience achilles tendonitis, doctors usually prescribe anti-inflammatories to ease the pain. A more longer lasting solution to easing the pain is to learn the root cause of the injury in the first place, so you can avoid any recurrence.

Get to the source of the problem

What Does Runners Knee Feel Like

Runners knee symptoms can range from a dull ache around the knee cap to a sharp pain when trying to perform certain activities, such as walking up stairs, squatting, kneeling, sitting down, or standing up. In some cases, you might even notice some swelling.

Popping and grinding sounds could indicate that you have bones rubbing on bones if the cartilage is damaged or missing.

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Work All The Muscles Around The Knee

A joint is only as strong as the surrounding muscles. For your knee, that means you need powerful quadriceps and hamstrings . Strong glutes and calves also help make your legs powerful, so you dont have to depend on the knee joint bone and connective tissue to do the work during exercise.

Strength-training exercises, such as squats and lunges, strengthen these knee-supporting muscles. Consult a personal trainer or talk to the staff at Next Step Orthopedics for more details on exercises that you should include to build up your leg muscles and support your knees.

How To Reduce Knee Pain Hiking Downhill

Four BEST Running Strength Exercises to Protect Your Knees (NO EQUIPMENT)

You know those treks down a canyon or to a lower elevation that never seem to end? Theyre steep, long, and make you feel like youre practically running. Or maybe its rocky with a loose surface that has you feeling a little unsteady. Even if you have healthy joints, its common to have knee pain hiking downhill.

The key to preventing knee pain hiking downhill is to walk in a way that helps to soften the blow. Sit back slightly and allow your hips to shift from side to side to help disperse the weight as your foot hits the ground. Also, try to zig-zag down the trail whenever possible to avoid walking directly down on straight, extended legs which will create a painful feeling of pounding on the knees.

Trekking poles are immensely helpful for reducing knee pain when hiking downhill, which well cover more in the next section.

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Things You Can Do To Extend The Life Of These Essential Joints

by Stacey Colino, AARP, Updated December 3, 2019

En español | If you’ve walked, jogged and hiked this far without any major knee trouble, there’s more you can do than thank your lucky stars. A few basic steps can help you protect your knees as you age.

Besides being the largest joint in the human body, the knees are unique in that the motion involved is very complex, says Sanjeev Bhatia, an orthopedic sports medicine surgeon and codirector of the Northwestern Medicine Hip and Knee Joint Preservation Center at Central DuPage Hospital in Winfield, Illinois. The knee has three compartments, any of which can cause pain with wear and tear.

With the passage of time, a certain amount of wear and tear on your joints is inevitable. But it doesn’t have to affect the way your knees feel, function or move. If you experience a clicking or popping sensation in the joint when you walk, bend or lunge, but there’s no pain or swelling, you don’t need to worry about it, says Dennis Cardone, D.O., an associate professor of orthopedic surgery and sports medicine at NYU Langone Health in New York City. On the other hand, if you have pain or swelling with that clicking or popping, it’s best to schedule a visit to your doctor.

Otherwise, to minimize your risk of experiencing pain, stiffness and inflammation in your knees, take these steps to protect these essential joints.

Is Running Bad For My Knees

If you are a regular runner, no doubt someone at some point has said to you that running is bad for your knees. More than likely, it was a non-runner. But there is plenty of evidence to say that the benefits of running far outweigh the risks, and that includes the effect on your knees.

Running is certainly not for everyone, but it is one of the most popular exercise activities and has many associated health benefits. It is a simple, low cost form of exercise that requires little equipment other than a good quality pair of running shoes and appropriate clothing. It is time efficient, easily fitting into a busy schedule, and can be very liberating. Speak to an avid runner and they will likely tell you that life would not be worth living without it.

When people say that running is bad for your knees, they are generally referring to its potential role in the development of OA . Running is often considered a cause of knee OA, both by the public and some healthcare practitioners. For the keen runner, this might be a cause for concern. However, it might actually be the case that knee OA is more common in non-runners!

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Proper Fitting Hiking Boots

Our feet are the foundation of almost every movement that we make. If you have improper footwear that makes you feel uncomfortable or restricted while hiking then that will certainly take a toll on your knees, hips, and even the low back. Its important to choose boots with good traction, sturdy material, and flexibility that will allow your feet a healthy range of motion to help you walk. A good rule of thumb to find out if you have properly fitting hiking shoes is that you can slide a finger into the shoe behind your heel and that you can wiggle your toes. Check out our guide to the best womens hiking boots for suggestions.

Treat Hip Joint Innflamation

How to protect your knees while running

Awareness of proper movement will help treat and prevent the sharp sensation at your hip that extends down your thigh.Loosen your hips and pelvis and learn how to take impact off your hip joints.Develop the ability to physically sense whats happening in your body and to respond with your bodys intelligence.

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Why Your Knees Hurt When Running

1. IT Band Friction Syndrome

IT-band issues are one of the most common nuisances that plague runners. ITBFS occurs when the tendon from your hip to your outer knee gets tight and therefore inflamed, irritating the outer knee bone. If your knees hurt while running and you feel tightness on the outside of your knee, ITBFS may be why.

Fix it: Bummer alert: The only way to ease severe ITBFS pain is to completely rest the tendon , says Leon Popovitz, M.D., founder of the New York Bone and Joint Specialists in New York. Physical therapy may also be needed to ease the inflammation. For mild cases, a foam roller to stretch post-run will quickly become your best friend.

2. Tendonitis

If you’ve recently upped your mileage or have increased your intensity in a short amount of time, the overuse of your knee can cause the tendons surrounding it to become strained and inflamed. This overuse is called tendonitis and can make your morning jogs pretty miserable.

Fix it: Tendonitis issues can typically be resolved with rest, ice, compression, and easing back into your usual routine. Scott Weiss, D.P.T., licensed physical therapist, board-certified athletic trainer, and exercise physiologist also recommends eccentric exercises to gently stretch the tendons and prevent knee pain when running.

3. Runner’s Knee

Fix it: Hamstring stretches and leg lifts can help runner’s knee, according to Dr. Popovitz. Do these post-run stretches to help your legs get stronger and prevent mid-run aches.

So How Do I Make Knee Pain Go Away

Get VERY friendly with stretching and strengthening because theyre both going to become big parts of your life if you want to cut runners knee off at thewell, knees.

Recovering from runners knee is about “retraining the way that you move” and coming up with modifications that will allow you to go easy on your knees, says Meghan Cass, DPT, a physical therapist in Columbus, Ohio. And the best way to do that is with physical therapy.

Once a therapist has pinpointed the aggravating factorlike stiff ankles or the intensity of your exercise regimenshe can create a rehabilitative routine, says Cass. This might include modifying where you run or how deeply you lunge and squat.

You’ll also do moves that will strengthen your core and your inner thighs, or stretch your calves, in an effort to better position your knee for physical activity. A PT might also encourage you to mix different types of workouts into your regular routine, says Carter, such as yoga or swimming to replace a running or squatting session.

These methods wont act like vaccines though, Carter warns. Youll need continuous doses of knee-strengthening exercises to keep the pain from coming back.

And extra TLC, like icing the knee for 20 minutes, might also help, says Cass.

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Prevent Knee Pain From Running 3 Eat Right

When dealing with knee pain, dont overlook the power of diet.

As a runner, youll need the right nutrients and substances to help protect your cells from damage and maintain healthy joints.

For starters, get plenty of calcium.

Most experts recommend 1,100 to 1,300 mg of this mineral each day.

Dairy products and dark green veggies are some of the ideal sources of calcium.

Here is the full guide to calcium foods.

Another nutrient is omega-3 fatty acids.

These fatty acids are natural anti-inflammatories that can help ease joint inflammation before it damages the joints.

The best sources of omega-3s include salmon, herring, tuna, cod, sardines, and mackerel, as well as fish oil supplements.

Furthermore, you might need to supplement.

Many athletes take Chondroitin sulfate and Glucosamine supplements to deal with joint pain since its believed that these encourage cartilage formation and repair.

However, the research is still mixed on the effectiveness of the supplements, so consult a certified physician if it can be helpful to your case.

Most experts recommend a minimum dosage of 1,200 mg of Chondroitin sulfate and 1,500 mg of Glucosamine daily.

Warm Up Before Exercise

Knee Pain When Running? | How To Avoid Runner’s Knee

Exercising at a high intensity without adequately preparing your body for the work invites injury, especially to vulnerable joints like the knees. Spend five to 10 minutes warming your body up whether youre planning to walk a brisk mile, run a 5K, or lift some heavy weights.

A warm-up starts modestly. If you plan to power walk, for example, spend a few minutes strolling and then pick up your pace gradually over the course of five minutes to full speed.

A workout that involves weight training includes about five minutes of cardio, such as marching in place or riding a stationary bicycle, and a couple of minutes of body-weight dynamic movements, such as squats, high knee raises, and side lunges.

A warm-up increases circulation and range of motion, which prepares your joints for the rigors of your workout session.

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Cool Down Properly After Every Run

It makes sense to me to put this point last on the list but dont for one second think that this is the least important!

One of the factors that can cause knee pain when running, or knee pain after running is muscular tightness that affects the patellofemoral joint.

Tightness in your quads and hamstrings in particular can have an affect on how your knee cap is aligned and how it functions, potentially resulting in knee pain.

A proper cool down after running will go a long way towards easing tight quads and relaxing tight hamstrings. You might also find it beneficial to spend some time foam rolling your quads .

Heres running cool down routine that you might like to try:

Surface Stiffness And Impact On Your Knees

No matter you are running on the treadmill or outside, the impact on your knees from running is a dependent variable which is depending on the independent variable of the surface stiffness. The treadmill is slightly more comfortable for your knees than some of the other surfaces that we often come across when running:

  • Concrete surface
  • Dirt field
  • Rubber running track

A hard surface like concrete surface can cause higher impact or wear-and-tear on your knees if you dont run in a proper posture. Running on a grassy field or dirt field has less impact on your knees but you might sprain your ankle if the surface is not flat or well maintained. Rubber running track is the ideal surface for running because it has an excellent grip, and the surface is relatively soft with less impact on your knees.

Similar to rubber running track, the treadmill deck, also known as the track or running surface, is also a great surface for you to run without causing too much impact on your knees. Because the upper side treadmill belt is made of high-quality PVC rubber and the underside is made by cotton, mono-filament and polyester which can provide excellent grip to both your shoes and the treadmill desk.

The cotton from the underside of the treadmill belt can help to reduce the impacts on your knees when running. Hence treadmill is well-engineered for running and pretty safe for your knees by comparing with other surfaces in the natural environment or man-made hard surfaces like concrete.

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