Knees Can Be A Real Pain in the … Knee.
The leg bone’s connected to the… knee bone. The knee bone’s connected to the …. wait. Knee bone? Is there even a “knee bone?”
*Did you sing the song in your head while you read?
Knees are not quite as elementary, or simple, as our favorite childhood nursery rhymes, and sooner or later as an adult Gal Who Runs, your knees have been or are going to be, an issue in some form or fashion. If you’ve been one of the lucky ones, who has never had to experience knee pain, or any type of “runner’s knee”, consider yourself lucky. Whatever you’re doing ….fabulous! We (GWR) tend to air on the side of preventive running (stretching, strength, and foam rolling) as opposed to prescriptive (managing the injury once it has already occurred) or at least try, so it’s good for you to keep reading too! Let’s keep you in the “I’ve never had runner’s knee-club!”
If you are like most runners, before you throw in the towel and say that phrase murmured by far to many former or aspiring runners ” I don’t/can’t run, it gave me bad knees”, or stay sidelined for letting it get worse, lets see if we can approach it differently. Coach Sheri says those knee twinges are awesome clues to show us where we are lacking strength, or a little TLC. So… “yay! bring on a bit of knee issues”!
As you set out to hold onto those new years
resolutions goals rather, with the best intention, knee pain can occur from so many different things.
If you start to feel something off in your knee, it’s very common in new and elite runners alike.
- When was the last time you changed your running shoes? If the sole support is worn down that could be why the knees hurt! Happy new shoe day to you?
- Have you dramatically increased your mileage or started running further than before? These aches and pains could be your body’s way of slowly adapting to new distances.
- Are these the right type of shoe for me? Being in a shoe to supportive for your foot could certainly be making your knee pain occur, so get a gait analysis and check that too!
In official terms what exactly am we dealing with here: The (female) knee is a complicated the knee is a hinge joint. This means its key functions are flexion (bending) and extension (straightening). The joint itself is a combination of the meeting of the femur and fibula/tibia, plus cartilage ligament, tendons, the patella and of course muscles. Key ligaments in the knee are the ACL, PCL, LCL, MCL as well as the lesser know patellar ligament. Not everyone is a versed in this as their Physical Therapist or ART specialist is so….
In langue we can understand: The knee is complicated, and connects to both the lower, back, and upper ligaments of the leg, so there’s more chance of something up above being off , or connected to the knee area, that effecting your knee.
What hurts? and what do I do? Muscles surrounding the knee are vast but looking toward the anterior of the knee are the quad muscles (see picture above). Generally speaking, some anterior knee pain can simply be solved, especially for beginners, just simply by stretching and strengthen the quadriceps muscles after running.
Other common pain areas include:
Now if it persists after running or inhibits normal walking, it’s best to consult your physician and not “self diagnose” the issue.
Running more is going to exacerbate the problem, so let’s take care of it first. It’s also good to try thee following to prevent further and negate any knee irritation:
The upper left orange area of the photo above is Iliotibial Band or ITB as its more commonly known. Now this band runs from the lateral side of your hip down the side of the leg and inserts towards the front of the knee cap. Therefore the strength or lack of strength, in the hip can have a direct affect on the knee and surrounding muscles. Foam rolling the IT band will be your best bet:
While you are doing your stretches, strength exercises (see GWR strength video here if needed), and of course foam rolling, you may have inflammation. A good ol’ dose of R.I.C.E will help. Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. Dedicating a little TLC to your knees, will help them take you a very long way!
Want to take your pace to the next level? You’ll need at least 5 weeks to dedicate to some speed work and stretching, but it’s doable! We call it the Advanced Run Program.
Or…maybe you want to run your entire race a little faster? We do that to, and the goal is to do it injury free! Whether it’s a half marathon or the full 26.2, you can decide how much faster you get with entire Training Guide!
May your running shoes, and your KNEES, take you many happy places!