Runners: Tips for preventing knee pain
Updated: Nov 5
Running is the most popular and accessible cardio workout for many people looking to release stress, get their heart rates up, and enjoy being outdoors. While there are many benefits to running, first-time runners should be on the lookout for signs of stress on their body, so that they can prevent injury. Protect yourself from knee injuries and pain with the following tips.
1. Stretch the Muscles around Your Knees
Runners are particularly at risk of knee pain. To minimize this risk, stretching the entire muscle chain is essential before running. Important muscle groups to focus on if you’re concerned about your knees include the quadriceps, hamstrings and calves. Contracting the opposite muscle group at the same time can help improve your ability to stretch those muscles. For example, while stretching your hamstrings, contract your quadriceps.
2. Strengthen Your Leg Muscles and Core Muscle strengthening is essential for preventing pain and injuries. Focus on strengthening not only hamstrings and quadriceps, but also the core, glutes and calves. Light weight training twice a week for as little as 10 to 15 minutes can be very helpful. Target each muscle group individually or try exercises like squats, lunges, or farmers walk.
3. Stay Hydrated No matter what exercise you do, it is important to stay hydrated for optimal muscle function and health. Make sure you drink plenty of water before, during and after your session. If taking a long run, make sure to hydrate the day before and avoid alcohol.
4. Don’t overdo it : Give your Knees a Break !
Running too much puts strain on your knees. Even for experienced runners, the risk of injury increases beyond 60 km per week. Plan to take some days off running to allow your body, especially the joints, to rest. If you are a beginner, start with a maximum of 20 minutes per day, and gradually increase, up to 5 minutes more every 15 days.
Especially if you are injury prone, it is wise to mix in other forms of cardio into your routine a few times a week. This can help to ease repetitive strain. Cycling and swimming are some excellent options. Circuit training is another activity that you can do from home.
5. Apply Cold on Sore Knees If your knees are sore after a run, try icing them. Apply a cold pad (or a zipper bag filled with ice) directly on your sore area and leave it for 5-10 minutes. Cold will help reduce the negative effects of inflammation (soreness, swelling, redness). If pain and swelling are really important and you are not able to walk several steps, seek help from a health professional !
6. Choose the right shoes and change them regularly
Make sure that you purchase the shoes that match your stride in a specialized store. When you have covered 700 km (450 miles) with this pair, alternate with a new pair, and permanently abandon the first ones at about 1000 km (600 miles).