Whether you’re a beginner runner, an endurance athlete, or someone who runs for the joy of it, dealing with knee pain can put a kink in your running routine.
Knee pain is also pretty common. Research shows that up to 50 percent of running injuries strike the knee. Knee pain can be blamed on all manner of different things, especially when logging serious miles every week.
So what are some tools to help prevent knee pain while running?
Actually, there are many. One of the best measures you can take is to regularly stretch the muscles and tissue surrounding your knee joint. That’s where today’s post comes in handy.
In this article, I’ll briefly look into some of the symptoms and treatment options, and most runners’ knees stretch you can do to improve mobility and flexibility to prevent knee pain.
There are many overuse injuries that strike the knee joint. One of the most common is known as runners knee, or patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS). The condition is also pretty common among those who any sports that involve repeated stress to the knee joint.
So what is all about?
Runners’ knee is all the catch term used to refer to pain in the kneecap. The condition causes an achy, dull pain at the front of the knee and around the kneecap. It’s widespread among runners, basketball players, cyclists, and those who participate in sports involving jumping.
Symptoms may include a dull ache or sharp pain, grinding or clicking on or around the patella, and chronic stiffness. Classic treatment options include cold therapy, anti-inflammatory meds, and stretching.
Knee pain, especially runners knee, is sometimes caused (and often made worse) by tightness in the muscles and tendons that connects to the knees, especially the quads, calves, hamstrings, glutes, and hips.
That’s why when it comes to soothing and preventing knee issues in runners, stretching can help.
Don’t take my word for it—research backs this up. A study published in American Family Physicians reported that increase strength and flexibility in the quad muscles is more effective than the routine use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or knee braces for soothing and preventing pain.
The Exercises You Need
There are plenty of exercises that focus on stretching the quadriceps, hips, hamstrings, and knee regions. By performing these stretches regularly, you’ll help keep your muscles loose, limber, and up for the job, which will provide better protection for your knees.
Perform these exercises on both legs if you experience pain on either side, back off the stretch, and go slow.
The quads, the muscles located at the front of your thighs—are a major knee supporting muscle.
The following stretch loosens up these muscles as well as the tendons in the front of the knee joint. It also helps improve flexibility in the hip flexors.
Start by standing at an arm’s length away from a wall with your injured limb bather from the wall.
While facing forward and keeping your core engaged, support yourself by keeping one hand against the wall.
Next, grab your ankle and pull it up behind you towards your buttocks. Don’t pull your knee to the side—instead, keep pointing downward. Keep your knees together the entire time. Hold it for 30 to 45 seconds.
Side lunge stretch
Side lunges loosen up and stretch the hip adductors—another important muscle that impacts knee function by stabilizing the hips. When your adductor are tight, your hips and pelvis may not be stable. Therefore, your knee may not be, either.
Begin by standing, assuming a wide stance, feet far apart. Next, while engaging your core and moving your feet to a 45-degree angle, lunge to your right side, bending your right knee, and keeping the opposite leg straight. You should feel a deep stretch in your thigh. For extra balance, place your hands on the floor in front of you.
Hold for 30 to 45 seconds, then switch sides and repeat.
The hamstrings, the muscles in the back of your thighs, running from the hips to the knees and actually cross the knees., are key. These help support the knees and hips. A hamstring strain can also cause knee pain.
Lie on your back with your left leg extended in front of you. Bend your right leg, wrapping your hands around the back of your right thigh, and slowly start to pull it toward you. You should feel the tension in the back of your thigh and up to the base of your glutes.
While keeping your hands under your leg just above the knee, pull your right thigh toward you gently.
Hold the stretch for 30 seconds, then switch legs.
Hip Flexor Stretch
Hip flexors, combined with the chair lifestyle and running, can get really tight. When your hips get too tight, your body will overwork the quads, which places a lot of pressure on your knees.
Start by kneeling your right knee on the ground and your left leg at a 90-degree angle in front of you.
While keeping your back flat, put your hands on your right knee, then lean into your right leg to feel your hips open up.
While keeping your right knee pressed to the floor, lean forward into your left hip while engaging the muscles in your left buttocks.
Hold the stretch for 30 seconds, then switch.
Standing Calf Stretch
Another set of muscles that can put a lot of pressure on the knee when tight are the calves. When you lack flexibility in your calves, it can cause an inward movement of the knees, which results in pain. It also places pressure on the feet and may cause injuries like plantar fasciitis.
Begin by standing about three feet from a wall. While keeping your hands at eye level, put them out, so they’re pressing the wall at a comfortable distance.
Next, place your left foot behind, ensuring your toes are facing forward. Keep your heel pressed into the floor, then lean forward with your left knee straight.
For more pressure, try rotating the toes in and out slightly to target the lateral and medial part of your calves. Hold the pose for 45 to 60 seconds, then change sides.
IT Band Stretch
Muscles are only one part of the equation. You also need to keep your IT band—the ligament stretching along the outside of the thigh, from your hip to the shin—loose and when happy. When it’s tight, it can lead to knee pain.
Stand upright, with your right leg crossed over your left. Next, shift your weight into one leg and cross the opposite leg in front.
While raising your left hand overhead, slowly start to lean over to the left until you feel a stretch.
Hold the pose for 30 seconds then, uncross your legs, stand up straight again, and repeat on the other side.