Whether you’re young or old, if you run often, you will likely experience what is called runner’s knee. This knee pain can be shooting and intense, and it can make you unable to run.
How common is knee pain among runners? About 40% of runners will experience serious, possibly debilitating knee pain around once a year. That’s a lot of knee injuries going around, so you can see why it’s considered a problem.
What can you do to prevent a running injury that will affect your knee? If you know how to prevent knee pain when running, you’ll be able to run farther and be less likely to need to take a few days to recuperate. We will share with you some things you can do to help improve your running performance by reducing knee injuries.
Run on Soft Surfaces
If you think about the surfaces where most people do their running, these tend to be very hard places. The road, the running track, and the sidewalk are usually made from concrete or some other very hard and unforgiving substance. This means that if you fall there, you could sustain a serious injury. It also can be dangerous for your knees over long periods of time. The impact that running on a very hard surface can have on the knees is substantial.
It may help to run on a softer surface, like the grass or a dirt path. Some running tracks are made with material that has a little give to it. That lessens your injury if you trip and fall, and also creates less impact on your knee.
You may not need to stop running on concrete permanently, but if your knee is giving you trouble or you’re concerned that it might, it can help to spend at least some of your running time on a softer surface.
Protect Your Heels
How you run affects how much impact is placed on your knees as well. How to prevent side of knee pain when running? By running lighter and being careful not to strike your heels as you run, you will produce less impact.
Think about the way you run and how you land on your feet. Does it feel almost like you’re stomping or pounding the pavement? You’re probably running too hard, and you’re probably striking your heels as you run. If you would like to avoid that, just pay attention to how you’re running and put less force on your heels. Try to land lightly so that your heels are protected. What that does is reduce the amount of impact that runs through your entire leg, therefore reducing the impact on your knee.
If you’re not too careful about the way you run, you can cause joint pain and knee pain over time. If you put in extra hours of running in a week, you may notice that your knees are starting to hurt. You may be trying to think back and wondering if you bumped your knee or if you knelt down on a hard surface, but the problem could be due to the way you run. Running lightly and avoiding striking your heels can protect your knees over the short term and the long term.
Keep Your Knees Bent
Another running method you may want to implement is the bent knee run. It can be very hard on your knees to run with your legs straight as you strike the ground. Consider how your body hits the ground and what position your knees are in when that happens. If your leg is straight when your feet impact the ground, that can transfer a lot of force to your knees, leading to joint pain, a loss of cartilage, and a lot of friction in the knee area.
How best to prevent knee pain when running? You can determine that you will no longer run with your legs straight and your knees unbent. Instead, force yourself to run with your knees slightly bent, particularly when your foot comes in contact with the ground. This is something you’ll have to do consciously for a while until your running habits change. It will definitely help, though, as it will reduce the amount of force on your knee and help your knees to last longer.
Don’t Put Too Much Faith in Running Shoes
When some people start to feel pain in their knees when they run, they may switch out the kind of shoes they wear. They may try on cushion shoes to help lessen the impact on their knees. The problem is that these kind of shoes may not make a big difference. What can often happen is that the runner will rely too much on the shoes to cushion the force on the knees rather than adopting a proper running form.
What we want to encourage you to do is pay more attention to your form and make sure that you have the right stance when you run, bending your knees and running lightly. Make sure you don’t strike your heels and try to reduce the impact on your knees with each step you take. This will help you so much more than wearing cushioned shoes. If you put too much faith in the kind of shoes you’re wearing, you may not watch your form so much, and that can be dangerous for your knees. You will greatly reduce the impact on your knees, if you’re paying close attention to your form and running properly.
Keep Your Knees Low
Some running exercises will have you lifting your knees high, as close to your chest as possible. This is a great way to burn some extra calories and practice sprinting, but it’s not necessary for conventional running. If you’re just trying to run for your health, and you do a lot of running throughout the week, you want to adopt a low knee position and a relatively short stride.
This helps reduce impact on your knees and protect them over the long run. As you run, try to keep your knees down and your heels up. This is going to do a lot for your knees and help avoid the kinds of injuries that will put you out of commission for a few days.
Take Breaks when Needed
One mistake a lot of runners make is that they don’t give themselves proper rest and time to recuperate. They push themselves too hard, running for too long of distances and running too often. This may be a great way to burn calories and fat, but it’s not very good for your knees.
It’s important that you do get enough time to rest, particularly plenty of sleep. This gives your knees a chance to recover. You also want to make sure that you’re taking rest when necessary and that you’re paying attention to your body and the warning signs that it’s in pain. If your body indicates that it is hurt, you need to rest, and you may need to take a day off from running just to allow your body to get back to peak condition. You may want to find other exercises to do instead of running in the interim while you’re resting your knees.
It may be frustrating having to take a little time off from running or having to stop and rest every so often, but you’ll be looking out for the long-term health of your knees. It’s better to take a day off here and there than to go through years of your life where you can’t even use your knees properly or where you’re dealing with severe pain because you abused your knees.
If you follow the guidelines here, you’ll be able to preserve your knees for much longer. You’ll have a more comfortable running experience and be less likely to experience knee pain when you run.