Knee Pain with Runners: Is it inevitable?
Short answer, no!
As performance physical therapists in Bethesda, we often see runners that have knee pain. Many runners simply view this pain as inevitable and part of being a runner.
However, we at Cohen Health and Performance disagree. Admittedly, runners are at an increased likelihood of experiencing knee pain. This is due to the large amount of running that often occurs in a typical training program. Furthermore, each running stride looks similar to the one that follows and is performed over and over again. This places strain to the same areas of the body repeatedly.
However, with proper cross training, this can be minimized.
It is important for a runner to work on improving the movement qualities necessary for effective running. This includes; single leg stability, single leg landing mechanics and lower body strengthening.
When running, the body is constantly transitioning from one leg to the other. During this transition time, there is no foot contact on the ground. For this reason, it is important to be under control when initially coming into contact with the ground. This will minimize pounding on the knees and result in a more efficient running stride. Forward bounding is a great drill to work on these qualities. Check out the link below!
Single leg stability and lower body strengthening can simultaneously be addressed with weight training. Weight training increases the stress tolerance of soft tissues such as tendons, ligaments and muscles. When these exercises are focused on the lower body, they will increase the resiliency of what these areas can handle. A great example is a reverse lunge. This activity requires a great deal of single leg stability, as well as the strength to control the descent of the body and subsequent ascent back to standing. This activity can be performed as a bodyweight drill or when holding dumbbells to increase the challenge. Furthermore, the reverse lunge places less strain onto the knees when compared to forward lunging! When performing this activity, begin standing and descend into the position below with the back knee slightly above the ground. Next, stand back up using the front leg to push your body back to the starting position.
Healthy and successful running is possible, however, it requires a well-rounded approach that includes much more the just running.
For help designing your cross-training routine please contact Dr. Cohen or Dr. Immermann via the information below!