It’s around this time of year that I start seeing more and more people presenting to the clinic with knee pain.
This is probably due to a surge of people taking up running in the New Year in an attempt to get fitter and lose weight.
The problem though is that many of these people have gone from doing almost zero exercise to now several days a week.
It’s a classic case of doing too much too soon.
What’s Caused The Knee Pain?
If I’m honest, I don’t think running is a suitable form of exercise for most average people, especially if you’re trying to lose weight.
With every step you take running you are creating loading forces through the bones in your foot, leg, hips and back and the heavier you are the greater those forces will be.
Not only that but the longer you run for the more times those forces are being applied to your bones.
This increases your risk of stress fractures in your feet and shins.
But aside from that why are you getting knee pain?
Well the most likely problem is that you have inflamed the tendons or ligaments around the knee joint. The most common site of pain is just under the kneecap in the “patella tendon”.
The reason you are feeling pain in this area is usually because your quadriceps muscles (the big thigh muscles at the front) are too tight.
This tightness causes a pulling on the bone that it attaches to (below the kneecap), which eventually leads to damage and inflammation and therefore pain.
What you probably haven’t done is taken long enough rest between runs and allowed the tendons to recover.
How Can You Fix The Knee Pain?
The first step if you are getting pain is to stop.
Now I know you are keen to get back to training but this is what I say to all my patients;
Would you prefer to be out of training for one week or one month?
I’m sure you said one week right?
Once you’ve rested for some time the next step is to loosen the muscles. Foam rolling and stretching are both essential here.
Alternate one day stretching and the following day foam rolling. This will prevent you becoming overly sore.
How Can You Prevent The Knee Pain Coming Back?
Once your pain has gone and you feel your muscle is looser, the next step is to reintroduce running.
But before you do I want you to consider what your running technique is like?
I bet you haven’t thought about your technique have you?
Most people I see are “heel strikers”, they hit the ground with their heels first and roll onto the front of their feet next.
The problem with this method though it is sends huge amounts of shock through your heel bones and up your leg bones.
What would be better (and more efficient though) is mid/front foot striking, avoiding hitting the floor with your heels altogether.
This will initially be more strenuous on your calf muscles so I would suggest you start with only 10 minutes and gradually build up from there.
I would also suggest that you maintain your stretching and foam rolling as these will really help keep your muscles looser.
What If Your Knee Pain Doesn’t Get Any Better?
I hope the above advice has helped. If your pain doesn’t go away though then I suggest you book an appointment here at the clinic.
We can take a look at your injuries and give you the best advice and get you back out running again.