The Runner’s Guide: 5 Ways To Improve Knee Pain
1. Increase your leg strength Try some wall sits, clams, calf raises, planks, or side-lying leg lifts. Your physical therapist can set up a supplemental strength program. 2. Improve your patella (knee cap) tracking Your patella needs to glide to actually form a C pattern when you bend your knee. Do leg lifts with your whole leg rotated outwards to strengthen the inner thigh and knee muscles. Make sure to stretch your knee cap up and down, side to side, to ensure gliding. Most patellofemoral pain comes from poor patella tracking and a physical therapist can diagnose and treat this problem. 3. Maintain and improve flexibility Running alone can cause mobility and flexibility issues. For example, the hamstring and outer tissues of the leg (iliotibial or “IT” band), can be very tight and alter the mechanics at the knee or cause pain. Stretch after every time you run and do adequate warm ups prior. Try integrating yoga and stretching into your routines. 4. Improve your balance and coordination Do balance exercises to build up your proprioception (sense of balance position). Exercises such as foam rolling, glute strengthening and standing on one leg with and without eyes closed are important. Make sure you have something to hold onto while doing the balance exercises to ensure your safety. 5. Improve your agility Try some butt kicks, high knee drills, skips, or karaokes to get warmed up actively and to move in different planes that you’re not usually running in.
Seeing a Specialist If you have recurring knee pain or discomfort for more than 3 days, it is time to see a specialist. The ideal specialist to see is a physical therapist as they are medical experts in joint movement and function (kinesiology). A thorough evaluation needs to be done on your movement, running patterns, strength, joint mobility, patella tracking and proprioception. Only then, can the true source of the pain be found, treated and help you understand what you can do to prevent it from returning. If you are an avid athlete, a physical therapist can look at your movement patterns and discover ways to make you both more efficient and more powerful to help improve your game. Get on the path to healthy knees and call us today for a free joint movement analysis. Discover how liberating it can be to run or exercise pain free.
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