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knee pain from running | running injuries

Have you experienced knee pain from running?

Are you sure that it was from running?

The cause of pain can, very often, be something entirely different than the activity that we're involved in when we feel pain.

Here, we'll explore some of what we've found to be useful in nearly twenty years of working with clients and athletes.

Your First Step In Assessing Knee Pain From Running

As we've often mentioned, when it comes to pain and injury, it is best to ensure that you aren't relying on self-diagnosis.

How do you do that? By seeing an appropriate, medical professional.

This isn't to say that every single ache or pain needs assessment, analysis, or medical procedure. Though, if something feels out of the norm, and you want to avoid the possibility of making matters worse, we suggest seeing your primary care physician, or equivalent medical professional.

Once You're Cleared To Run

medicine ball trainingWho here loves medicine ball training?

Once a client or athlete has gotten the go ahead to return to training, there are a multitude of options for programming.

Where each person is unique, there is no real "one size fits all" solution.

With that in mind, here are three areas to consider prioritizing in your programming that have worked well for us and for the clients we've been fortunate to see.

Strength Training

We've known a lot of runners who avoid strength training at all costs.

That is an unfortunate truth, because with a relatively small investment of time, and appropriate programming, they'd very likely see great benefit.

Among those benefits:
  • Improved strength
  • Improved durability
  • Gains in power and endurance
  • Reduced incidence of injury
  • A boost in metabolism
  • Improved running performance
  • and, much more!

Bettering your focus on strength training doesn't mean that you have to live in the gym.

Great progress can be seen in as little as two days per week, depending upon your individual schedule, and with a focus on compound movements and total body exercises.

Why Compound Movements?

strength training womanGet Strong!

A compound movement is one that requires movement through and/or around more than one joint of the body. An example would be a squat, where the ankle, knee, and hip are all involved in performing the movement appropriately. Not only are the three joints involved, but the muscles surrounding each are, as well.

With that, there is significantly more muscular involvement and activation than if you were to choose a leg curl or leg extension. That is not to mention that the squat is more functional overall and more closely related to the needs of running and other activities that you might enjoy outside of the gym.

We Rarely Program Single Joint Exercises

It is on the most rare of occasions that we program any single joint exercises (e.g., bicep curls, tricep pressdowns, leg curls, etc.). The only time that we do is when it is to address a specific muscular imbalance and where removing the complexities of a compound movement make sense for the individual, and their goals and needs.

Additionally, single joint exercises are mostly inefficient in helping to achieve significant results for body transformation, sports performance, and muscle gain.

Have you ever tried to change your car's tire with a pencil? That's what trying to enact total body transformation is like when the tool used is a bicep exercise.

For help with this, we recommend seeking the guidance of a certified professional.

Flexibility and Mobility Exercises

flexibility for runnersGet those stretches in!

As much as runners may avoid strength training, so too do many avoid flexibility training.

Again, this is also unfortunate, as they are only robbing themselves of benefits that would help to improve their ability to run well and often.

They are also robbing themselves of the possibility of ridding themselves of some of that knee pain from running.

In our earlier example of the squat as a compound movement, we'd mentioned the involvement of the ankle, knee, and hip.

When it comes to mobility training, each of these joints have different requirements.

The ankle should be a mobile joint, able to allow for movement in several directions.

We don't want this joint to be hypermobile, as that can lead to its own set of obstacles.

When this joint is too far restricted in movement, the body will look to move the next closest joint to make up for that restriction. What is the next closest joint? The knee.

The knee is a joint that should only move in flexion and extension, much like a hinge. Having too much restriction at the ankle will force the knee to move outside of it's "skill set," usually resulting in connective tissue injuries (e.g., ACL tears).

hip jointThe hip joint (and all the muscles and joints of the body) are so fascinating to us!

Further up the chain, we come to the hip joint. This should also be a mobile joint.

Too much restriction in movement here will often lead to the knee or the lower back suffering the consequences of that limited movement.

Around, and crossing, these joints are muscles that may require flexibility training to ensure that they aren't restricting the movement of the joints, or underactive and contributing to hypermobility.

Often overlooked, and of important consideration, is that not every muscle should be stretched in every individual. Sometimes, stretching a muscle, just for the sake of stretching, can lead to additional issues that may increase the likelihood of injury or incidence of pain.

Want to be sure that your stretching program is appropriate for the way that you move? We'd suggest working with a certified practitioner.

Those qualified in assessment via the Functional Movement Screen (FMS), as well as those who have earned the Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (NSCA CSCS) certification are well-equipped to provide this type of instruction.

Your Running Shoes

best running shoesAre your running shoes worn too thin?

Lastly in this list of ours, though not of least importance, is whether your running shoes are supporting your efforts.

By that we mean your efforts to remain uninjured and to enjoy your training and racing.

If you've put a few too many miles on your shoes, or if they are the wrong fit (not just in size, but in support, as well), then they may be contributing to any knee pain from running that you might be experiencing.

Retiring Your Running Shoes to Avoid Knee Pain from Running

We suggest keeping track of the number of miles that you're putting on each pair of sneakers.

Many of today's running apps will allow you to designate the running shoes that you're wearing for each outing, helping to keep track of the mileage accumulated.

It is a common suggestion that you retire your sneakers from your running rotation once they've been out on the roads, or trails, for 500 miles.

Additionally, and for the best running shoes for your unique, running body, we suggest a professional fitting or assessment. Getting the right fit is a great way to help in avoiding knee pain from running, as well as other aches and pains.

Call your local running store to see if they offer complimentary assessment, where they'll look at how you stand, how you walk, and how you run. Based on what they see, they'll be able to select and suggest pairs of sneakers that offer the appropriate support for your needs.

Have Your Own Story About Running Injuries?

Have you experienced knee pain from running (or while running), or pains in any other areas?

What did you do to help rebound from injury?

We love it when our readers share their stories and their best advice.

Contribute your story in our running injuries section today.

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"Hard work is not punishment. Hard work is the price of admission for the opportunity to reach sustained excellence."
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