Do you have knee pain that limits your running distances?
About 20-40% of runner's experience knee pain in the course of 1 year related to running. Anterior knee pain is the most common followed by lateral knee pain or IT band syndrome. This article will provide some useful tips on how to address any current knee pain issues related to running or prevent future knee pain related to running.
Check out these 5 top tips for decreasing or preventing knee pain in runners.
Tip #1 - Stretching is Key
Many instances of knee pain can be directly related to flexibility problems; especially in the hamstring muscles. The hamstrings bend the knee and resist straightening of the knee. When tight, they can put lots of pressure on the knee with loading activities such as running and squatting.
Tip #2 - Hip Muscles are King
Many of knee pain issues are linked to hip weakness in runners; especially the hip abductor and external rotator muscles. These muscles stabilize the hip when running to prevent excessive and abnormal loading at the knee with forces 2-3x our body weight.
Tip #3 - Improper Running Footwear
Inappropriate running footwear can be related to knee pain in runners. Excessive motion at the foot and ankle can lead to increased loading at the knee. Stability shoes can help alleviate knee pain when this excessive foot and ankle motion is an issue.
Tip #4 - Running Surfaces
Harder running surfaces tend to have higher impact with running. The faster you run, the greater the impact. Concrete is 5x harder than asphalt, and asphalt is harder than grass, trails, or treadmill. Many runners experience knee pain when transitioning running from a softer to a harder surface.
Tip #5 - Shorter Strides
Research shows that shorter strides result in less loading at the knee. A cadence of 170 steps per minute or greater has been suggested as an optimal running cadence to avoid knee injuries. Higher cadences result in more knee bend at initial contact with the surface resulting in less loading at the knee.
Knee pain can be debilitating and affects 20-40% of runners each year. Stretching, strengthening hip musculature, using the correct running shoe, transitioning slowly from soft to harder running surfaces, and running with a higher cadence have all been shown to alleviate or protect runners of knee pain.
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