It is no secret that running is an excellent way to keep your health in tip-top shape. Yet, constantly feeling knee pain might jump-start a mission to figure out how to make running easier on your knees. This type of pain, known as runner’s knee or patellofemoral pain syndrome, can easily interrupt the benefits of an otherwise stress-relieving activity. Where’s the fun in that?
Since the legs support the rest of the body, it’s no surprise that the knees experience a great deal of pressure. In fact, it’s the most common type of injury among runners. Even minor issues in the surrounding muscles, nerves, and bones can spark some discomfort. When one thing is out of whack, you can be sure that the knees will be the first to know.
Don’t let runner’s knee get in the way of doing your thing, though. Taking the extra effort to be more mindful about your running habits can be a game changer for your fitness journey. Moreover, you’ll get the most out of workout by treating your body well.
To get you started, I’ve rounded up a list of handy running tips that focus on knee pain. You've got this – I promise!
1. Strengthen your hips
There's more to running than hitting the treadmill or jogging across town. Keep your hips in check by regularly doing exercises that strengthen them. Otherwise, your hips will become weak and cause your thighs to rotate inward when you run. The end result? Painful knees. Not cool.
2. Invest in good running sneakers
Our feet experience constant strain on a daily basis. After all, they get to do the honors of carrying our bodies around. And because the health of your feet and ankles directly impacts your knees, it's crucial to give them some extra love. Make it a point to invest in a pair of quality shock-absorbing running shoes. By doing so, you'll ensure that your feet are supported properly during each and every run. Don't forget to replace them once they start to fall apart; your feet will thank you.
3. Wear shoe inserts
Since foot issues can spark knee pain, don't be afraid to go the extra mile (pun intended) to protect your feet. Consider using shoe inserts for even more support in your running shoes. You can easily find these in the foot care department of groceries and pharmacy retailers.
4. Slowly increase intensity
As with all physical activity, starting out slow and steady is the safest bet. If you're looking to increase your speed while running, do so gradually. This will give your body time to warm up and prevent your knees from experiencing a sudden shock of pressure.
5. Lean forward
When you run, it's easy to forget about what's going on with the rest of your body. It's much like being conscious about your posture while sitting or standing. Take the pressure off of your knees by leaning forward while you run. However, don't lean forward from your hips. Instead, do it from your ankles. This will propel your energy and weight forward, giving your knees a break.
6. Alternate running surfaces
Compared to running on a track or trail, exercising on concrete can stress your knees out. Your body experiences a great deal of impact when you run on the pavement, stressing the importance of switching it up once in a while. If you can, alternate between surfaces to give your legs a break. This also doubles as the perfect opportunity to check out some new sights and routes in your town.
7. Avoid going downhill
It's not uncommon for runners and hikers alike to feel knee pain when going downhill. This is all thanks to the natural force of gravity emphasizing your weight on your legs as you travel downward. There's minimal impact in the opposite direction, making uphill runs less stressful on the legs. When possible, plan your route to include primarily uphill running. If you must go down a hill, slow down your pace to protect your knees.