Knee pain is a common problem, affecting athletes young and old alike. High impact activities like running and activities that require pivoting, twisting moments can place strain on your knees, sometimes causing pain. So what’s the best solution for your problem? Physical Therapy.
Physical Therapy strengthens the muscles around the knee, reducing some of the stress on the joint. Additionally, your Physical Therapist can evaluate additional areas of weakness or tightness that may be contributing to your knee pain. This is especially true for new runners.
As you build endurance and stamina with your running, you may experience occasional generalized muscle tightness or soreness. This is very normal and usually goes away. What’s abnormal is isolated areas of knee sorness or pain to the inside, back or front aspect of the knee. The most common area of knee complaint I hear in my Rockville, MD office is inside (medial) knee pain, especially from new runners.
This type of pain may point to both weakened and tight hip muscles causing abnormal joint mechanics as you swing your leg during your stride. Over time, compensation can cause lasting injuries to the muscles and ligaments of your knees, forcing many to abandon the sport all together. Here are some things you can do to help reduce your injuries and keep you moving:
- Routinely stretch calves (tibialis posterior), hamstring and hip adductors/flexors following your run, no matter the distance.
- Strengthen the muscles around the calves, ankle and hips. Pay special attention to the abductors (gluteus medius/max), and hamstring muscle groups. Reverse Lunge Diagonal is a great exercise that will target all those muscles.
- Rest. This is a BIG deal and often ignored. Resting allows our bodies to repair itself and for new neuro muscular connections to be established, which improves efficiency and can reduce your risks of injuries.
- Hydrate! This is another BIGGIE for new and experienced runners. Proper hydration keeps your muscles and joints supple. It can also increase the workload of your heart. Dehydration forces your heart to work harder, pump harder to get the blood circulating. With less fluid, blood is thicker and tougher to pump, which will affect performance.
With planning and adjusting your routines, you can significantly reduce your risks of knee pain and other associated symptoms. Better yet, have a Physical Therapist evaluate you to assess mechanics, balance, strength and flexibility to ensure your safety and joint protection.