The stress of running can cause irritation in the kneecaps and escalate to knee pain, so how can you counter that asks Nandini Reddy.
Running is a stressful activity for your legs. Ankles, knees and soles are the worst hit in terms of stress related injuries. Knees are the weight bearing joints of the body and help us keep our balance. Knee pain is very common for runners and generally a bit of rest can alleviate knee pain. But if a simple remedy doesn’t help then you need to get into the depths of why your knee hurts and possible causes and remedies that may need longer rest.
Understanding Knee Pain
Running is a high impact sport where knees are concerned. Soreness, inflammation and strains are common for all runners. Nearly 50% of runners face knee injuries in some form or the other. The knee is a difficult spot that is held together by four ligaments. If you do not have adequate strength then the pressure of your run falls mostly on your knees. The most important areas to strengthen to avoid knee pain are your core, glutes and hips.
If your knee wobbles when you run or if you get prolonged pain after your run then it means that your hips, core and glute muscles are not strong enough. A strong pelvis will ensure proper heel strike and will help you maintain proper form. Wrong stride strikes will result from weak hips that will not maintain form and thus finally hitting the knee with twice the impact causing high stress on the ligaments.
For the period of recover opt for low impact exercises like swimming and yoga. Squats or partial squats are a way to strengthen your knees. You can start slow and build up to a regular schedule of squats. In addition watch your stride length and pace and ensure that you are careful about getting it right until your knee doesn’t feel stressed.
How to treat it?
Ice it – If you knee is swollen after a run, ice it for 20-30 mins every 4 hours over the next 2-3 days or until the swelling completely comes down and the pain has disappeared
Bandage it – Elastic wrap bands are a great way to support the knee and prevent it from bending the wrong way. The extra support will help reduce over-usage of the knee and bring down the pain.
Elevate it – Raise your leg up using a pillow. The elevation will help drain the lactic acid accumulated and allow for fresh oxygenated blood flow to the knee, thus reducing the pain.
Strengthen it – Check with a physiotherapist about strengthening movements and stretches that you can do to relieve the pain.
If these techniques do not work then you need to consult a doctor to explore what the extent of injury and see how this needs to be resolved using medical treatment under the supervision of a doctor.