Why do so many runners get knee injuries?
Knee injuries from running can be a real setback.
Running can be beneficial in so many ways. It is not only a good form of aerobic exercise, but it is also good for mental health as it is a great stress reliever.
Add in the social benefits and the feel-good factor, and it has great appeal.
Anatomically, the hips and the ankles are well designed for running, but the knee has to absorb a lot of shock during running and isn’t the best designed joint for that role.
But the real reason so many runners get knee injuries, especially chronic injuries, is through lack of knowledge.
Whilst running is easy to get involved with, it is one of the least supervised sports or pastimes.
How to minimise knee injuries from running
Running can get a bad press for its tendency to cause injury. But invariably, it is not running that leads to injury, but the way people run.
Everybody can run. But not everyone can run well. And before you even start running, you need to make sure you have the right equipment. Proper running shoes and proper running socks are essential.
It is worth getting expert advice on the type of running shoe that suits you best. This can usually be worked out by having a gait analysis done. A gait analysis looks at your specific biomechanics of running. Running shoe technology is pretty advanced these days, so it should be easy to find a shoe that suits your particular running style.
In terms of the running style itself, there are simple adjustments you can make that will help prevent knee injuries.
Don’t pick up your knees when you run. If you pick up your knees, your lower leg swings forward and your heel will come down in front of your body. As such, you’ll be putting the brakes on as your foot hits the ground.
Instead, try to keep your knees swinging low. At the back end of each stride, bend your knees and let your heels float up behind you. Say to yourself, “knees down and heels up.”
As well as working on your running style there are other things you should bear in mind. Don’t over do it. If you want to run further or faster do slow in very small increments.
Also, learn how to stretch properly. The do’s and don’ts of stretching have changed considerably over the last 20 or 30 years as sport’s science has progressed. Make sure you take expert advice on how to stretch appropriately.
How physiotherapy might help
Very few of us have perfect posture or muscle balance. Modern life compromises our bodies in so many ways.
A qualified physiotherapist can help to work on the underlying structure of your body to help reduce the risk of knee injuries. Whilst a physiotherapist can help after an injury they have a major part to play in injury prevention treatments as well.
They will help ensure good joint mobility, flexibility, muscle balance and can even advise on appropriate footwear.
Proper maintenance and nurturing of your body is key, and a visit to your physiotherapist in a worthwhile investment.