Our bodies were made to walk and run. Our purpose has dramatically changed over the years. Instead of running to catch our food or from becoming food, we now run to keep our bodies healthy and fit. It is a compound movement that generates a massive amount of force. When our foot hits the ground our bodies need to absorb those forces but how that happens may be the cause of some structural issues.
Yes, running miles a day for years will definitely cause some wear and tear on your joints. Its just like too much of anything can have a negative effect on your body. But, if you run a few or less miles a week to stay healthy, start paying attention to how you run.
What You Can Do To Decrease Runner’s Knee Pain
During running gait there is a moment when both your feet leave the ground. You have to land from what feels like floating. This is different from your walking gait when you always have at least one foot on the ground.
You may already know that landing on your forefoot will allow more time for your body to absorb the force. If you land on your heels the shock to your body could be much greater and lead right up to your knees and hips. The type of shoe you wear could also influence how you land. A shoe with a thick heel may lead you to landing on your heel instead of using your whole foot. If you are not running double digit miles a week consider a flatter shoe.
The next body position to be aware of is how close your feet are to the ground. Do you feel your almost shuffling your feet to run? Again, this does not allow your body enough time to efficiently soak up the forces you generated by pushing off the ground to start. Before you land, you have to pick up your feet. Think about lifting your knees high. This will change where you land and how you land. It may also be a bit more fatiguing but your joints will thank you.
When we run we need to push off the ground. This needs to be powerful and to create power we need strength training. Just because of you run does not mean you should skip leg day. If anything, moderately heavy squatting and dead-lifting can help you push off the ground more easily making the run feel so effortless.
Strength Training to Decrease Runner’s Knee Pain
There are several other factors that can lead to faulty running gait and joint pain but start from your striking pattern* (how you hit the ground) and elevating your knees. You can then look up the chain to make sure you have strong hips and core to stabilize your trunk when you are running.
If you feel you could benefit from strength training try the following workout 1-2 times a week and let us know if this helps your running feel more effortless!
Start with 2 sets of 10-12 reps of each exercise, work up to 3 then 4 sets over 6-8 weeks.
- Goblet Squat to Bench
- Elbow Plank (3×10 seconds each set)
- Single Leg RDL
- Side Plank (3×10 seconds each set)
- TRX Row
- Dead Bug
- Feet Elevated Hip Lift
*If you try forefoot landing know that your calves might get very tight. Start with very short distances or intervals as you transition into a different running pattern.