Serious about preventing knee pain while running? Look no further than strength training.
This might sound like an overstatement, but plenty of research has proven the effectiveness of resistance training for preventing all sorts of athletic injuries — not just knee pain.
A Common Problem
About 50 million Americans suffer from knee issues, making the knees the most commonly injured joint in the body.
It’s no surprise that when it comes to running injuries, knee ailments are pretty common. In fact, roughly half of all overuse running injuries strike the knees.
Here’s the good news. You can beat knee pain if you take the right prevention steps, and that means doing plenty of exercises that strengthen the knee region.
Strengthening the muscles surrounding the knee joints — your adductor (inner thigh), abductor (outer thigh), hamstrings (muscles in the back of the thigh), and quadriceps (muscles in the front of the thigh) — will make your knees stronger and less prone to injury.
Not convinced? Check the following studies:
The Best Exercises for Preventing Knee Pain While Running
Google “knee strength exercises” and the search engine will return with hundreds of exercises.
This makes it hard to separate the wheat from the chaff when it comes to identifying the most effective strength exercises.
Here are my seven favorite moves. They’re easy to perform, effective and suitable for most runners regardless of fitness level or training background.
Perform the following strength routine at least three times a week. In just a few weeks you’ll increase strength, build your range of motion and improve flexibility and mobility.
1. Wall Sits
Begin with your back against a wall with feet shoulder-width apart, two to three from the wall.
To do this move right, slowly slide your back against the wall, using your hands on the wall for balance, until your legs are bent at a 90-degree angle and thighs parallel to the ground. Make sure your back is against the wall with feet and legs parallel the entire time.
Next, press your back against the wall, and hold the squat with your hands in front, for one to two minutes.
Do two to three sets.
2. Side-Lying Straight-Leg Hip Abduction
Start by laying on your side on the floor or on the mat with your legs stacked on top of one another with hips flexed to 30 degrees.
Next, raise the top leg up as high as possible, hold it for a count of three at the top position, then return to starting position.
Make sure that your movements are very slow, small and targeted to the glutes medius—the muscle just below and behind the hips. Be sure this muscle is firing properly by doing your best to engage it throughout the movement. Place your hand on it if you have to.
Do at least 10 reps on each side to complete one set. Do two sets.
3. Straight Leg Raise
Start by lying on the floor or mat on your back with one leg straight and the other bent.
Next, while keeping your lower back in contact with the ground, raise your straight leg to about 45-degree angle with the knee and toes facing the ceiling the entire time. Hold it for a count of three, then slowly return to the starting position.
Do at least 8 reps on each side to complete one set. Aim for two sets.
Find a bench or a step, about two feet high, and place your foot on it. Your knee should be at a 90-degree angle.
In case you don’t have a bench or plyo box nearby, then a dining room chair can do the trick.
To begin this exercise, step up onto the support with your right foot, then the left, straightening your knees fully. Then step down to the starting position by leading with your right foot, then the left, until you end up with both feet on the floor. If you have balance issues, then pump your arms while doing this move.
Do at least 16 steps before leading tithe left foot for another 16 steps to complete one set. Do two sets.
5. Sit to Stand
Start by sitting in a firm chair, feet on the floor with a small ball or pillow between your knees. Sit on the chair so that your hips and knees both form right angles.
Next, while leaning forward, raise up and stand up straight and then sit back down in a slow and controlled manner.
In case this version is too challenging, you can always make it easier by pushing up through your arms, and keep in mind that the lower the chair, the harder the exercise.
Repeat for at least 12 times to complete one set. Do two sets.
To make this exercise more challenging, wrap a resistance band around both legs just below your knees.
Start by laying on your right side, preferably with your back to a wall, with your hips and knees bent at a 45-degree angle, legs stacked.
Next, while keeping your feet in contact with each other, raise your left knee as high as possible without moving your pelvis, pause for a moment, then slowly bring it down to starting position.
Do 16 to 20 reps on one side, then switch sides.
7. One-legged Deadlifts
You can make this exercise more challenging by grabbing a pair of dumbbells.
Begin by standing on your right foot, then raise your left foot behind you and bend your knee so your left shin is parallel to the floor. Make sure to keep the left leg off the floor the entire set of reps.
Next, bend forward at your hips, and slowly lower your body as far as you can, pause, then push your body back to the upright position.
Make sure your chest is up and core activated throughout the movement.
Shoot for at least 12 to 15 reps on one leg, then switch sides to complete one set. Do at least 3 sets.
Bonus Tip – Want More Of This?
Then you should check out my Runners Blueprint System.My system was specially designed for beginners who either want to start running or take their training to the next level, but have little clue on how to do it.
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- How fast (or slow) should you go on your first sessions
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Featured Image Credit – KT Tape through Flickr.