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Tips From Your Aurora Physical Therapy Team to Help Prevent Runner’s Knee

April 5, 2021

Running is one of the most effective cardio workouts out there. But it comes with a few potential safety issues that can make the sport more challenging at best and lead to potential injury at worst. The most common problem runners face isn’t sprained ankles or overdeveloped muscles. It’s runner’s knee. The condition leads to serious pain in and around your knee and that pain can leave you wondering if seeking physical therapy in Aurora, CO, is in your best interest. Luckily, runner’s knee is something you can easily prevent. Here are a few tips to help you keep your knees in good shape so you can run pain-free for years to come.

Stretch Before and After Your Run

The best way to prevent muscle strain and knee pain is to stretch both before and after your run. This will help loosen your muscles up and make it easier for your legs to maintain their full range of motion while you’re exercising and after you recover.

Push each stretch until you feel some discomfort but stop if you start to feel pain. Stretching shouldn’t hurt at any time. If it does, you’ll want to schedule an appointment with your physical therapy team as soon as possible. Pushing yourself too far, too fast, can end up making the muscle strain worse and aggravate your runner’s knee pain in the long run.

Start Weight Training A.S.A.P.

One of the biggest contributors to knee pain is under-developed muscles. When you lack the strength in your legs, glutes, and core, all the strain caused by running gets absorbed by the most vulnerable muscle groups. This increases your risk of knee pain over time and, if you’re not careful, can lead to more serious injuries that can end your running career before it gets started in earnest.

Make strength training a priority. Work with a personal trainer and tell them about your goals and concerns. They’ll be able to design a strength training program that will strengthen your knees and the supporting muscle groups to help you prevent injuries and overuse in the future.

Ice Your Knees as Needed

The sooner you can catch runner’s knee, the better off you’ll be. And the sooner you can ice the soreness away, the less inflammation you’ll experience around your knees and the faster they’ll heal. As soon as you start to feel soreness or discomfort after you cool down, ice your knees.

Use a gel ice pack that you can shape around your knee or place ice cubes in a large zipper bag and wrap it with a towel. Ice your knees for 10 to 15 minutes and see how they feel. You may need to ice them several times a day for a few days to get rid of the pain and inflammation.

Switch up Your Cardio on the Regular

Runners all have one thing in common: an intense love and passion for the sport. But that love of running can actually make your knees worse. Instead of trying to run every day or getting your cardio workouts by running alone, change things up. 

Hop on a bike and get your heart pumping that way. Speed walk around your neighborhood, go swimming, or use an elliptical trainer at your gym. These exercises use different muscle groups and take some of the strain away from your knees without forcing you to forego your normal cardio workout. 

You might even find that you enjoy a different type of exercise just as much as running!

Drink Plenty of Water 

Believe it or not, hydration is one of the most important things you can do for your entire body. It helps your muscles stave off soreness and can prevent injuries as long as you make it a priority. Get in the habit of drinking plenty of water during and after each run you take. 

The better hydrated you are, the easier it will be for your body to recover and the less likely you’ll be to develop runner’s knee. 

Use the Right Shoes

Running shoes exist for a reason. They put your body in the right position with each stride and help you maintain proper alignment even on uneven terrain. But all running shoes aren’t identical. You need to choose a pair that provides you with the type of support you need to thrive. 

Head to your local running supply store or shoe store and ask for advice. Many local stores offer running analysis to help you find the right type of shoe for your feet. They’ll be able to assess your gait and identify any issues that could contribute to an increased risk of injury so you’re aware of those issues and can correct them as you train.

Make Rest Days a Priority 

Pushing yourself too hard, too fast is a simple way to end up hurting yourself. You need to take days off from your running routine even when you don’t feel like you need to. Prioritize rest days each week and give muscles a break. 

Now, you don’t have to spend rest days sitting on the couch binging your current TV obsession. You can find ways to recover while staying active. Go for a hike. Run through a yoga routine. Take a walk around the block. Whatever it is, it counts as a rest day as long as you’re not using the same muscles that you use on your runs. 

Avoiding Runner’s Knee Is Possible

Even a minor case of runner’s knee can leave you limping for weeks. Keep these tips in mind and you’ll be able to prevent that troublesome knee pain with ease throughout your running career. If anything happens down the road or you’re already dealing with a case of runner’s knee, don’t try to fix it on your own. Schedule a consultation at your closest physical therapy location and get treatment as soon as possible. The sooner you start working with a physical therapist, the sooner you’ll start making improvements and can get back outside, pounding the pavement with confidence.