Knees are exposed to many glaring problems that may be both humiliating and disturbing to you, especially when you are running. The most glaring problem is knee pain, or what is commonly called runners’ knee.
Knee pain usually affects the joints of the knee where the tibia and the femur join. This pain occurs due to friction and wearing out of the cartilage, and straining of the muscles that connect to the knee. This pain may prevent you from your daily exercises and duties.
However, we have addressed some of the risk factors you should keep and some of the preventive measures you should take.
Let’s check them out!
Risk factors that contribute to knee pain.
Knee pain is more common to some people than others. Below we have covered some factors that place you at the risk of battling this pain.
Excess weight has many problems to the human body, and particularly it may be the cause of your knee pains. Obesity increases the strain on your knees, causing pressure in the muscles that hold the knee joint together. What’s more, the excessive weight causes the cartilage in the knee to wear and tear. As a result, the synovial fluid in the knee reduces, and consequently, the knees experience a lot of friction. This friction causes more injury in the knee and, as a result, more pain.
Lack of muscle flexibility
Weak and tight muscles are a leading cause of knee pains. When you engage in an intense activity, the quadriceps and hamstrings tighten, and they may even rapture. Similarly, when the muscles become weak, they may not withstand the heavy workouts you engage every day. As a result, flexibility may lack in the knee, causing even more pain
Certain sports or occupation
Some physical activities and sport require a lot of stress than others. Some sports, to be specific, like skiing, basketball, American football, among others, need a lot of effort and may result in a lot of effort on the knee. This, consequently, may result in excessive strain and repeated pounding of the knee. The pounding may increase the risk of a knee injury, which means more pain. Occupations like construction may also increase your risk of knee pain.
Poor running shoes
Poor shoes let your feet absorb all the shock and force of impact when running. This is because they either have less underfoot cushioning or poor traction and trip. Less underfoot cushioning absorbs less shock created when you’re running and therefore leaving your foot to absorb the rest. On the other hand, poor traction and grip fail your feet in holding on to the running terrain. As an effort to avoid sliding, you might end up adjusting your muscles in an uncomfortable position leading to injury.
Overpronation refers to the act of your foot rolling inwards as you move. This rolling occurs naturally or may result from many other factors. Since this condition occurs due to the bones’ shaping, it may exert a lot of pressure on the tendon that connects the knee and the ankle bones (tibia) when walking or running. As a result, this may cause pain on the upper side of the knee.
Foot Turnout or Duck walk
Usually, your feet should point straight ahead, and both should be parallel to each other. However, this is not always the case. Sometimes the limb (hip, knee, tibia, foot) may look rotated outward; this condition feet are called duck feet. The rotation causes the twisting of the leg muscles. These imbalances and twists of the feet exert pressure on the body and they may result to knee pain.
Previous fractures and injuries of the leg take time to heal. Depending on the previous injury’s degree, it is probable that it might cause pain in the knee.
Your running techniques may also result in knee pain. When your heel strikes first, it absorbs all the force created in that impact. As a result, the Achilles tendons and calf muscles absorb the shock and, in return, transmit it to the knee. Therefore, striking with the knee first is more likely to cause knee pain than striking with the forefoot or midfoot first.
You might have noticed that you feel more knee pain when going downhill than uphill. This is because downhill running involves a lot of leaning and braking. When you lean backward when running downhill (of course, to lower the center of gravity), you compress the Achilles tendons and other muscles connecting the tibia. On the other hand, braking stresses the muscles and pulls them together. These two actions affect the knee as the other end of the muscles are connected to it. As a result, the knee pain begins.
How Can You Prevent Knee Pain?
Knee pain is not one of the things you can enjoy having. It causes a lot of distractions when running. Below are some of the ways to curb this disturbing menace.
Change running shoes
Poor running shoes are one of the risk factors of this condition, and therefore you should prioritize changing your running shoes. As a runner, you should continuously ensure you check how worn out your shoes are. Relentlessly check how damaged your cushioning features are.
Additionally, when buying running shoes, ensure that you properly check the features that best suits your condition. For instance, if you have overpronated feet, you should go for the best running shoes for high arches. Additionally, if run on rocky surfaces, consider getting the best running shoes for cobblestones. These shoes have the best features to suit your specific problem,
Get healthy and stay flexible
Since weak muscles significantly contribute to knee pain, you should strive to strengthen them. Strong muscles make you flexible when running and walking. They build up your quadriceps and hamstring, making your knee support even more potent.
On the other hand, stiff and tight muscles cause knee pain due to the pressure mounted on them, making them rapture. Therefore, you should do a lot of training to improve your stability and balance. Balance and stability enable your body muscles to coordinate and work together.
Avoid heel striking
Avoiding heel striking will do you better than harm. Ensure you land using the midfoot or the forefoot to put an end to knee pain. Landing using the midfoot distributes the impact equally in your shoe. As a result, the heel takes a reduced amount of impact force.
However, landing using the midfoot may be the genesis of some problems for some people. For example, people with high arches are likely to experience pain if they force landing using the midfoot. In such a case, these people should ensure they are running on the right footwear or land more naturally. Landing naturally ensures that each foot part handles the impact created.
Keep extra pounds off
Yes, consider reducing your weight! Reducing your weight is the best favor you can do to yourself and your knees. Ensure that you maintain a healthy weight to reduce the amount of strain you put on your knees. You can reduce the weight by intensifying the workout you do every day and avoiding eating a lot of junk. Excess weight intensifies the strain on your knees causing more friction and wearing out of the cartilage.
Change your techniques of exercising
It would help if you considered changing how you exercise or perform your running; poor training techniques are a major cause of knee pains. Particularly, consider checking how you run downhill to avoid straining the muscles that connect your ankles to the knee. Below are some Do’s when running downhill;
- Lean forward and avoid leaning backward. The former eases the foot muscles and reduces impact force, while the latter strains your muscles and increases the impact force.
- Ease your muscles and have a free-fall downhill run. Braking tightens and stiffens your muscles, causing more strain on the knee
- Take shortened and small strides to reduce the impact forces. The vital thing to note is that downhill running should be a free-fall run. You can this by relaxing your muscles.
Additionally, ensure that you slowly intensify your workouts and training. Immediate intensification of the training will affect all the joints, including the knee. It is advisable to do a warm-up before any intense exercise.
Avoid “duck” walk tendency
As earlier discussed, duck feet will cause straining and twisting of your muscle, causing knee pain. Avoiding duck walk normalizes your walking and straightens your muscles. As a result, this decreases imbalances and strain on the knee.
If you have duck feet, you can collect them through some exercises. What’s more, we have covered the best running shoes for duck feet, which can be very resourceful in avoiding duck feet. To sum it up, knee pain can be a pain in the neck, and therefore, understanding how well to avoid it places you far ahead of safety. You might agree that prevention is better than cure.