Have you ever experienced runner’s knee? Of course, if you’re a runner, this is most likely an issue you’re familiar with. Runner’s knee (also called patellofemoral pain syndrome) is one of the most common injuries runners deal with regularly. In addition, it’s one of the most frequently-treated injuries that physical therapists work to heal.
But how can you maintain an active lifestyle and avoid runner’s knee? Obviously, we want all of our clients to stay healthy and exercise regularly, but also to remain in optimal shape or lose weight without any painful, inconvenient injuries. In this post, we’ll explore five tips to help you avoid runner’s knee and stay active without injuring yourself.
It’s one of the simplest rules when it comes to exercise of any kind. In fact, most fifth graders could tell you that you should stretch before you exercise. However, you’d be amazed how many people neglect or forget this rule entirely. Naturally, as physical therapists, we understand the undeniable importance of stretching consistently. In fact, a significant portion of physical therapy itself involves some very specific, individualized stretches in order to engage healing components in certain parts of the body.
Before you run, do a light warm-up and then move into stretching. When it comes to your knee, important muscles to focus on are the quadriceps, hamstrings and calves.
2. Strengthen Your Leg Muscles
In addition to stretching, it’s also very important to strengthen your muscles in order to avoid pain or injury. Specifically, to avoid runner’s knee, you should focus on strengthening your core and glutes as well as your hamstrings and quadriceps.
Jumping or moving in abrupt, spastic ways involves something called pyometric strength. Basically, this is any motion that requires an explosive movement. It can also contribute to injury prevention in runners.
Also, moderate weight training at least twice weekly, in sets as brief as 15-20 minutes, can go a long way towards preventing runner’s knee.
3. Limit the Stress On Your Knees
Remember: it’s super important not to place undue stress or exertion on your knees. Use your better judgement when deciding what is or is not excessive strain to place on your knees. This is doubly important if you’re a runner who’s prone to regular injuries.
Of course, in order to avoid a painful case of runner’s knee, one of the most reliable ways to avoid it is by mixing in alternative cardio workouts into your routine a couple of times a week. Obviously, these alternative cardio workouts should be exercises that avoid engaging the knees. This is a fantastic way to help ease any consistent strain you might be placing on your knees.
One cardio routine that won’t cause runner’s knee is cycling. In addition, circuit training is an exercise you can do from home in which you can regulate the strain on your knees.
Of course, it doesn’t matter what kind of exercise you’re doing – hydration is critical. Any physical therapist worth their salt will confirm this. If you want to maintain optimal muscle function and health, then it’s essential to remember the importance of hydration. Additionally, if you want to avoid runner’s knee, then it’s equally as important.
Before any workout, cardio or otherwise, make sure you have (at least) a glass of water beforehand! Most active runners (or anyone exercising, really) always have a portable bottle of water within reach to cool down and stay hydrated. And if you’re going for a considerably-long run, then make sure you’re hydrating a day in advance and avoid drinking any alcohol.
Conclusion – Farmingdale Physical Therapy West
We’re physical therapists – of course we want you to exercise! However, we also want you to be safe at all times. The last thing we want is for you to exercise regularly and wind up with an injury you could have easily avoided. Regardless, at Farmingdale Physical Therapy West, whether it’s your first appointment or not, we’re always standing by and ready to help with any and all ailments you might experience.