Running can give you many health benefits. It burns calories to help you maintain a healthy weight, improves cardiovascular health, prevents stress and insomnia, and builds strength and endurance.
But while there’s no doubt that running is good for you, it can also lead to injury. People with weak joints, tendons and ligaments due to old age or lack of physical activity are especially at risk.
In fact, knee pain is something many runners complain about at one point or another. But while it’s easy to blame running for any knee injury or pain, the sport itself is not the culprit. There are things you can do to protect your knees so you can continue doing what you love.
When you run with the correct form, give your body enough rest and build up your mileage gradually, you can help prevent injury to your knees.
Precautions and Preventive Measures
There are precautions you can take to prevent knee pain, including:
1. Running Form
Proper running form is not as easy as it looks but it’s something you need to learn and improve. Heel strike, over striding, and low cadence have been found to cause knee pain over time. In relation to this, the surface you run on can also cause pain in your knees especially if you’re running on cement or asphalt roads.
Finding the proper shoe for you is a must. Before you buy a pair, make sure to consider your gait, where you plan to run, and if you’re running long distances or sprints. A running store personnel can check all these things for you and recommend the right arch support, cushion level, springiness, and width for your particular feet.
3. Protecting Your Knees
You can protect your knees so you can enjoy many years of pain-free running. If you just recently started running, it’s important to take things slow. Don’t increase your mileage too fast and be sure you get enough rest days so that your muscles and joints don’t become prone to injury. The same is true if you recently came back from an injury.
You should also make sure you warm up correctly before your runs. Dynamic warm-ups combined with stretching is a must. Experts believe dynamic stretching should be done instead of static warmups for improved athletic performance.
Another way to help prevent knee pain is by doing strengthening exercises. Pain or injury in the lower body is often attributed to weak glutes, hips, quadriceps, and hamstrings. To help address this, you should aim to do strengthening exercises targeting these muscle groups. Doing these things will help improve a person’s range of motion and flexibility particularly in the knee joint.
Another thing to consider is wearing knee braces to stabilize the knee and help support it without making any knee injury worse. You often see people wearing these things in gyms like Newtown Athletic Club and there’s a reason for it. Wearing a soft knee brace has been found to greatly reduce pain when walking.
Lastly, listen to your body. If you experience any pain then it means you should rest and not run for at least a few days. If the pain does not get better, contact your healthcare provider so that the pain can be evaluated and treated.
Learn about how to avoid runner’s knee here: