Your knees are prone to numerous problems which make them painful especially during running. The most common of these is the runner’s knee or what is often referred as patellofemoral pain syndrome.
Pain resulting from runner’s knee is felt around the patella which is the front part of the knee. Knee pain makes the biggest percentage of running injuries. If left untreated, the pain might become chronic and possibly side-line you from physical activity.
See the guide below on to how to prevent knee pain when running.
Risk Factors for Knee Pain
1. Physical Activity
Physical activity including sports are responsible for overuse on the knees due to pounding and twisting. This causes excessive strain on the knee joint thus leading to pain.
2. Extreme Heel Strike
When you hit the ground forcefully with your heels, the bulk of impacts are felt by the knees. Unlike forefoot or midfoot strike, heel strike is more likely to cause knee pain because of the high impacts on the knee joint.
Not only does obesity increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases but excess weight puts a lot of strain on your knee joints. Moreover, it results in increased wear and tear which ends up damaging the articular cartilage. As a result, the knee joint exhibits limited movement and is not able to absorb impacts effectively.
Therefore, your knees will tend to ache during physical activities. It can also lead to Osteoathritis.
4. Foot Turnout or Duck Walk
Your feet are supposed to point straight on when standing, walking or running. With the ‘duck walk’ posture, your body exhibits some imbalances which lead to outward rotation of the foot, tibia, knee and hip.
The good news is that foot turn out deviations can be corrected to lessen strain on your knees.
The term overpronation refers to the tendency of ones feet to roll or bend inwards when walking or running. This rolling also affects the ankles, knees and hips where it causes rubbing and increased strain.
Overpronation is common in flat-footed individuals because their fallen arches are less support.
6. Inappropriate Shoes
Running shoes are meant to provide underfoot cushioning to lessen impacts on your joints and muscles. However, when you wear less-cushioned or worn-out shoes your knee joints tend to be exposed to excessive landing impacts thus leading to increased strain.
7. Running Downhill
While running downhill enhance your strength and speed, it can lead to knee pain when not done the correct way. Taking longer strides, leaning back and continuous braking are common causes of knee pain when running downhill.
Tips for Preventing Knee Pain
With knee pain being among the most common running injuries, there’s need to embark on some preventive measures.
Below are some of the things you can do to minimize instances of experiencing knee pain.
Change your Running Shoes
If your running shoes are worn-out or they lack adequate cushioning, then it’s time to get a new pair. This helps in minimizing underfoot pounding to ease pressure and strain on you knee joints.
If you exhibit overpronation, then consider arch support running shoes to lessen strain on the knee joints. Such shoes are built with a raised midfoot area which is meant to hold your arches so as to prevent inward foot rolling.
Avoid Heel Striking
As much as possible, try landing with your midfoot instead of the heel lessen impacts on your knee joints. However, forced midfoot striking may cause foot strain in some individuals.
Therefore, if forced midfoot striking is causing strain on your feet, it’s advisable to allow your feet to land naturally.
Proper Downhill Running Techniques
Downhill running is associated with greater risk of knee pain due to the high impacts and strain on your knees. However, you can minimize the risk of knee pain by sticking to certain downhill running techniques. These include:
- Always lean forward instead of leaning back. This allows you to avoid heel striking which is associated with greater impacts on your knees.
- Avoid frequent braking when running downhill to minimize strain on your knees.
- While the slope usually encourages you to take longer strides, it’s advisable to take shorter strides to minimize the landing impacts. You can achieve this by taking shorter but fast paced strides.
Avoid ‘Duck Walk’ Tendency
Duck walk or foot turnout tends to cause strain on the lower body appendages starting from the foot, tibia, knee up to the hip. Usually, foot turnout results from excessive sitting and poor posture which causes the anterior pelvic to tilt. This deviation is then transferred to the knee, tibia and then the foot.
Since this condition is acquired from body imbalances it can avoided or corrected by following certain procedures.
Below is a video to help you fix your foot turnout tendency.
Although knee pain is a common running injury, it respond quickly to do-it-yourself remedies. Moreover, you can avoid knee pain injuries by avoiding some simple mistakes that end up straining your knee joints.