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5 Simple Ways to Beat Knee Pain While Running

Physical Therapy

We all know that running is great exercise for our bodies, but often people stop due to knee or lower leg pain. This can happen for a variety of reasons, but usually ones that we are not aware of. More than 50 million Americans deal with some sort of knee trouble so it’s not surprising that the knees are the second most common injured joint, the first being the joints in the spine. At Loudoun Sports Therapy Center, our clinicians can give you the tools and knowledge you need to address that pain and even help prevent knee troubles from starting.  First, let’s name some common injuries people get from running or exercising.

Common injuries with running or exercising:
Patellofemoral pain
Meniscus tears and pain
Ligament injuries (ACL, PCL, MCL, LCL)
Osteoarthritis
Shin splints
Hamstring pulls
Achilles tendonitis

Most all knee and leg pain can be attributed to the following issues:

  • Poor muscular strength
  • Imbalance of muscular strength with certain muscles stronger and others weaker
  • Poor muscular coordination
  • Poor biomechanics of walking / running
  • Lack of flexibility

Rule of thumb, don’t push through pain
‘No pain, no gain’ is not always the best policy.  While feeling a stretching sensation or muscle burn is a normal part of exercising, pain itself is not a normal feeling and should not be something you just deal with. Whether that pain is sharp or dull, you should never push through it. It is very important to do an adequate warm-up before you exercise because your muscles and tissues require internal lubrication to work properly. Warming up brings natural fluids to the area to help with lubrication, improving elasticity and function. In addition, a proper post-workout stretch is also important to ensure that flexibility is maintained and gained.

5 Ways to Improve Knee Pain:

  1. Increase your leg strength. Do wall sits, knee extensions, toe raises, hip side-lifts to name a few. You can speak with one of LSTC’s clinicians for information on how to correctly perform these exercises.
  2. Improve your patella (kneecap) tracking. Your patella needs to slide up and down and actually form a C pattern when you bend your knee. Do leg lifts with your whole leg rotated to strengthen the inner thigh and knee muscles. Make sure to stretch your kneecap up and down, side to side, to ensure gliding. Most patellofemoral pain comes from poor patella tracking and a physical therapist is the expert to diagnose and treat this problem.
  3. Maintain and improve flexibility. With running and exercising it is very common for the powerful muscles in the leg to become tighter. For example, the hamstring and outer tissues of the leg (iliotibial or “IT” band) can become very tight, altering the mechanics of the knee causing 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 standing on one leg with and without eyes closed are important. Don’t forget to make sure you setup for safety when performing balance exercises by having a steady surface nearby to hold onto when needed.
  5. Improve your agility. Many casual runners, simply run, but do not perform other types of important exercises such as strengthening, balance and agility training. Mix up your workouts to include these other types of exercises.

Speak with a physical therapist:
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). At Loudoun Sports Therapy Center, our therapists will perform a full evaluation to test your strength, range of motion, general movement, walking patterns, strength, joint mobility, patella tracking and proprioception. This evaluation enables the therapist to find out the source of your pain and figure out the best treatment plan to prevent the pain from returning. In addition, if you are an avid athlete, a physical therapist is key in helping you discover new ways to improve your movement and function, helping you improve your game. We can help you get back to the activities you love!  Call Loudoun Sports Therapy Center TODAY, 703-450-4300 and learn how physical therapy can help you LIVE LIFE PAIN FREE!