Runner’s Knee: How to Prevent Knee Pain
Nearly every second runner complains about orthopedic problems while running. These complaints frequently concern the knee. But without your knees, you couldn’t run at all. They act as your body’s shock absorbers, cushioning the impact with the ground. At the same time, they convert these impact forces into energy and propulsion. In order to do this, your knees need good stability, so they do not wear out prematurely. So, when do problems occur? When the interconnected system of bones, ligaments, tendons, muscles, menisci and patella is thrown out of whack.
Common runner’s problem
Many runners know this feeling: a sharp pain on the outside of the knee. At first, it only occurs when you run, but later you also feel it when you climb the stairs or even when you walk. Runner’s Knee, also known as ITBS (Iliotibial Band Syndrome), is one of the most common causes of knee problems in runners. The pain associated with runner’s knee is frequently caused by overuse of the tendon on the outside of the knee. The iliotibial band (IT band), a thickened strip of fascia, is stretched too tight and rubs against the outer protruding edge of the femur. The fascial bands are located on the outside of the thigh and support the muscles there. Most of the time, these problems are a result of improper technique, incorrect training and underdeveloped muscles. Running expert and coach Sascha is here to help you run pain-free again and get a grip on your knee problems.
Improve your running technique
Proper running technique does not come from just logging miles. Unfortunately, over the years, our motor skills begin to deteriorate. On account of very supportive or cushioned shoes, well-paved roads and paths and a largely sedentary lifestyle, our bodies are losing the muscle tension necessary to perform the movements involved in running. “The result is most often poor running technique like overstriding or “sitting in the bucket.” Your body needs to be reminded of its natural running form from time to time,” emphasizes Sascha, who has put together a few tips below for rediscovering your natural form.
- Get to know your running form. If you know how you run, you can work on your weak areas. These kinds of analyses are offered, for instance, by sports scientists, or you can seek the advice of a running coach. Sometimes, it is also helpful if you have a friend film you running, so you can watch your own sequence of movements.
- Run upright. Try to stretch yourself to your full height when running (i.e. running tall). This engages your core, shifts your pelvis into an upright position and reduces the tension on the iliotibial band.
- Optimize your coordination. You can do this by regularly getting off paved roads and paths and running cross-country through fields and woodland. This off-road running improves your overall body coordination and boosts your running motor skills.
Don’t ignore the pain
If you think you are developing runner’s knee, don’t panic. You can treat the problem with special training. The basic rule is to never ignore or “get by” with the pain. It is better to reduce your running volume than run the risk of further injuring yourself. In next week’s blog post, Sascha will show you some exercises you can do to relieve the pain. Still, the best thing is to avoid overuse injury in the first place. Make sure to have a varied training program with a clever combination of body coordination, agility and strength exercises to balance out the muscular imbalances formed by solely running. This way, you can maintain your running volume pain-free for years to come.