Make the most of your workout!
If this is your equation, you’re in good company. Did you know that women are 2 times as likely to develop “runners knee” than men? All equality aside, the shape of a woman’s body just wasn’t meant to run it seems – the angle of our hips puts more pressure on our poor knees than that of our male running buddies.
The simple answer of course is to stop running. But if you’re like me, that isn’t an option! So if you’re not going to stop training for that next race, here are a few tips I’ve used over the years to help keep my knees out of the injury zone.
Side note: You should always see a doctor and/or physical therapist (of which I am neither) if you have knee (or any) pain for a proper diagnosis.
From my experience, here are 5 things you can do to reduce your chance of knee pain and injury:
1) Don’t run every day: Even marathoners will tell you your body takes a pounding when running. The motion of every step is like grinding your ligaments and cartilage. If you follow typical training plans, you won’t be running every day, and certainly not at race mileage. Cut down your mileage and REST every other day.
2) Strength train 2-3 times per week: Knee problem can sometimes be caused by muscle weakness and/or tightness. The stronger your muscles are, the more they can support your bones and ligaments. So be sure to do some leg exercises 1-2 times per week. Try lunges, squats, leg extension and hamstring curls – all with a bit of weight.
3) Stretch after EVERY run or workout: Similar to weak muscles, tight muscles can pull your knee and/or put undue pressure on it. Put in the extra 3-5 minutes at the end of every workout, and your body will thank you for it.
4) Get proper running shoes: While the wrong shoes can completely mess up your stride, the right shoes can help correct pronation (rolling in) – a common cause of knee issues. Go to a store dedicated to runners, which typically have a treadmill where you will run while a professional will help you pick the right shoes for you (cushioned, stability, neutral… leave it to the experts!)
5) Run on a level surface with good shock absorption: Nothing is worse on your joints than an uneven or hard surface! Do your body a favor and run on a synthetic track, dirt or grass trail, a treadmill, or the asphalt road – but never a concrete sidewalk!