Whether a novice runner or a master, at some point, you will experience knee pain. Here are ten things that you should know about your knees:
- Your knee joint is formed at the intersection of three major bones – your femur (thighbone), tibia (shinbone), and patella (kneecap) and the supporting fibula. Both knees bear your entire weight and make it possible to walk, run and climb stairs.
- Your knee has 14 ligaments that hold the joint together. Layers of cartilage cover and cushion the ends of the bones where they join.
- The most common knee injury among runners is runner’s knee, or chondromalacia patella or patellofemoral pain syndrome, all fancy words for inflammation of the cartilage directly below your kneecap.
- Many knee (ankle and foot) problems are caused by biomechanical problems like weak hips and glutes, weak quadriceps, and tight hamstrings. A good stretching and strengthening program can be invaluable in preventing runner’s knee.
- According to the American College of Sports Medicine, every one pound of bodyweight places an additional FOUR pounds of stress on the knee. Extra bodyweight places tremendous strain on your knees, avoid it.
- Running uphill or downhill places abnormal torque on your knees, run on flat ground to reduce the torque on your knees.
- Runner’s Knee may be caused by misalignment of the kneecap as it moves across the cartilage and the joint. You may also suffer from misalignment in the hips, ankles, leg muscles or leg bones. You should suspect one of these causes if the pain occurs only in one of the knees, and not both.
- Running in shoes that are not running shoes may also contribute to runner’s knee pain. Choose shoes designed for running, in the right size, and that support your weight and style of running in regards to foot strike and supination.
- Runners who train more often instead of improving speed, intervals, and strengthening their lower bodies risk runner’s knee.
- Tight hamstring and calf muscles cause a buildup of pressure on the knee, and weak and untrained quadriceps muscles can cause the patella to become misaligned and track out of alignment.
Treating Your Runner’s Knee
Surely you’ve heard of R.I.C.E – Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation as the primary treatments for acute knee pain or flare ups. It’s important to use all four treatments when knee pain, inflammation or swelling becomes noticeable, especially when the area feels warm to the touch.