Tired of that nagging pain that always creeps up during your run? Unable to increase your distance or improve your times due to "bad knees"? Believe it or not, there are answers to these problems! You can be running pain free again, even if you haven't been for a long time! Here are 3 simple ways to improve the knee pain you feel with running.
1. Strengthen your hips
A good percentage of Runner's Knee pain is present because the hip muscles aren't doing their job, and the knees are taking the brunt of the force. Think of it like this: If 10 construction workers were tasked to a job, and 7 of them left early and the other 3 had to finish all on their own, who would be tired, in pain, and overworked? The 3 who stayed. Whose fault would it be? The 7 who left!! In this analogy, the knee is the workers who stayed - overworked and in pain because of the laziness - or lack of strength) of the hip.
A great exercise to start with is glute bridging. Lay on your back with your knees bent. Make sure to press your low back flat into the floor first, then drive through your heels to lift the hips as high as you can. You should squeeze the glute muscles as hard as you can - they should feel like rocks to the touch!
Hold this position for 10 seconds, making sure not to hold your breath. Do ten repetitions everyday.
2. Check for triggers - then destroy them
Trigger points in the quads can pull on the patella, causing increased friction as the knee bends and extends. Some of these trigger points can start all the way up near the hip, which is where the quad muscles begin. Scan your quads, starting just underneath the bone in the front of your hip, by rolling with a foam roller. Once you find a tender spot, bend and straighten your knee until the tenderness dissipates. This is called seek and destroy! Check out the video below for the proper technique.
3. Stretch the right way
The more active you can be with increasing your mobility, the better. If you've ever been to a good yoga class, you'll be familiar with the teacher giving cues that force you to pull yourself, using your muscles, deeper into position. Pushing and pulling with your muscles has another name as well - in the physical therapy and training world we call it PNF. PNF stretching has been shown to make faster and more lasting changes than simple passive stretching.
So, the next time you decide you want to stretch, think about contracting the muscle you are stretching for ten seconds (pushing), and then contracting the opposite muscle for ten seconds (pulling). For example, if you are stretching your hamstrings with one leg straight out on the floor in front of you, you would push your heel down into the floor first, keeping your leg straight. Next, squeeze your quad and the front of your leg to "pull" your body further over your leg as you reach further forward.
You should notice an immediate improvement in how far you can stretch! Also, you can employ this technique with any stretch that you already do!
Call us now at 305-912-5775 if you'd like to talk to one of our therapists about any questions that weren't answered in this article.