One of the reasons that running is an awesome way to exercise is because there’s always a location near you where you can enjoy a quick run – whether you’re traveling for work or out in the country visiting family. It’s an appealing exercise for so many people because you don’t need any special training equipment to do it: just throw on your running shoes, find a good place to run, and you’re practically good to go!
However, running also comes with a certain degree of risk for injury due to the repetitive and high impact nature of this form of exercise. It places a lot of stress on the muscles, and the pressure can be even greater on your knees as running puts loads of force on the joints.
As a matter of fact, because knee injury is very common among runners, a term has been coined to refer to conditions that cause pain on the kneecap: Runner’s Knee. This is why for many of us, running is synonymous with knee pain.
Causes of Runner’s Knee
Runner’s Knee is a term that is used to describe several knee problems that cause discomfort and pain around the patella, which is the small bone that rests in front of the knee joint. Any of the following can contribute to the development of knee problems:
Weakness of thigh muscles
Unbalanced thigh muscles can affect the position of your knee as the tightness of the muscle causes your kneecap to bend in the wrong spot.
Overuse – pushing too hard, and bending your knee repeatedly can strain your joints, and specifically your knees. When you run or do lunges to the point where you exceed your body’s ability to recover, you are causing the tissues around the kneecap to become irritated.
Malalignment of the bones – If you have been diagnosed with bone malalignment where any of the bones from your hips to your ankles are out of line, then you are at a higher risk of having knee problems. When bones are out of their proper position, it will be difficult for the kneecap to move smoothly, as there is too much pressure on certain joints.
Problems with the feet – Overpronation, where the arches of the feet roll downward can change the way you walk and can put extra force on your knees. This will in turn lead to knee pain and swelling.
The breakdown of cartilage can cause loss of function in the joint. Any joint can be affected by arthritis, but it most commonly affects the knees.
How to Prevent Knee Pain
Knee pain can easily dampen your exercise routine and cause you to put a halt on intense training. Fortunately, you can protect your knees from injuries by following these simple measures:
Use the right gear
Training in improper shoes will increase risk of knee pain and other knee issues, and you definitely want to prevent that, right?
Running is a high impact activity that places a lot of force on your knees, which is why it is important to invest in a sport shoe that will provide adequate support to the feet. Go for high-quality shoes that have inbuilt shock absorbers that effectively prevent foot fatigue and provide extra protection for the ankles. The most important element to look for in a pair of running shoes is its ability to help you absorb some of the shock that reflects through your leg when running in hard surfaces.
Note: Once your shoes become worn out, replace them immediately with a new pair before engaging in any high impact sport.
Maintaining a healthy diet can do wonders for your knees. As a runner, you want to protect your joints from damage by eating foods that are high in calcium. Some good sources of calcium include dairy products such as almonds, milk, dark green veggies, and soybeans, just to name a few.
Another nutrient that can help ease joint pain is omega 3 fatty acids that can be found in fish and other seafood.
Not only will these foods provide the right nutrients to keep your joints healthy, they will also work to help you maintain a healthy weight, which is crucial if you want to lessen the strain on your joints.
Seek treatment immediately
If you suspect that you have knee problems, consult with an experienced physiotherapist before resuming any form of exercise. He or she will ask you about the level of pain you are experiencing, as well as the symptoms that led you to seek physiotherapy in the first place. Depending on the result of your physical examination, your physiotherapist will design a treatment plan that is aimed to reduce the pain and inflammation on your knees. The rehabilitation plan will also focus on helping you get back on your feet after the symptoms have been addressed.