4 Techniques to Avoid Knee Pain from Running

 
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Running is a key component to any sport. Basketball, soccer, football, and lacrosse all rely on the ability to run pain-free. For distance runners and sprinters, it's the only component.

And then we have our everyday runners who do it to stay in shape. No doubt, running is one of the best things you can do to stay in shape. Running with pain-free knees is vital in all of these scenarios. Knee pain from running will stop you in your tracks, every time.

Knee Pain from Running - Is Your Form To Blame?

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Running itself takes the blame for many knee issues. But it may not be the act of running that is causing the pain. It may in fact be the way you are running. That's right, technique makes a big difference. Not only in performance, but in health as well.

My intent with this article is to help decrease impact and stress upon the knees for you runners. How do we do that? Let's start paying attention to our form.

Running can be such a fantastic release of mental and physical energy. I want to see less of you in my office from ankle and knee pain caused by running, and more of you out there pounding the trail.

What Not To Do If You Are Experiencing Knee Pain From Running

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1. Don't Be a Heel Striker

When your feet "get ahead of you", there is a higher chance of striking the heel upon the ground. Reaching too far with your stride causes this effect. You legs and knees end up taking all the shock as you hit the road. This is bad. You knees and ankles are not meant to absorb this type of force on a repeat basis. This extra force will cause knee pain from running eventually.

The about the mechanics of a heel strike. As you reach into your stride, the heel must "brake" to absorb the pressure. You also have a higher tendency to come in at an angle in this scenario.

This constant force upon the knee is a major cause of knee and ankle pain in runners. So concentrate on a natural stride. You'll feel yourself over-reaching once you start paying attention. And when you adjust your stride, you will immediately feel the results.

2. Don't lift the knees too high

The same principle applies when we talk about lifting the knees. Although some schools of thought say to lift the knees, this can have the same effect as over-striding. Knee pain from running will develop over time with the added force upon the knees and ankles.

Again, I caution you to try to adopt your natural running form. Any time you are straining yourself on purpose, there is a higher chance of injury.

3. Avoid Over-Pronation

Over-pronation will lead to unhealthy amounts of torque in the leg. Concentrate on keeping your feet straight and natural, and not "splaying" them to the side.

This might take a little practice. But stick with it. When it comes to eliminating knee pain from running, sometimes knowing is half the battle. (That's a G.I. Joe quote, so don't credit me with that one.) 

What to Do to Avoid Knee Pain From Running

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I'm not a running pro, but here are some of the things that running coaches stress when it comes to establishing good form. Implementing these techniques can help you avoid pain from running.

1. Keep the knees low.

If you adopt the mantra" knees down heels up", you've got a good jump on this. Each of your strides should have an easy bend of the knees as your heels rise up behind you.

2. Lean forward from the ankles & Try to land on your mid-foot

The midfoot is a healthy point for the foot to absorb shock. Too far forward or too far back and there is extra shock. So lean forward from the ankles and let the midfoot take the brunt of the stride. This will help you from developing knee pain from running.

3. Point your feet in the right direction

I mentioned the splayed-feet phenomenon. Avoid this by pointing your feet in the direction you are running towards. This might feel strange at first, but give it a shot. Some runners have been over-pronating without even realizing it.

When feet splay to the side we start dealing with pain or a more serious injury. Some runners develop medial meniscus tendonitis. This causes a sharp pain on the inside of the knee. Not fun.

4. Run with soft, bent knees

To avoid overstriding, concentrate on keeping soft knees. By paying attention to the tendency to hyperextend the knee, you'll cut down on the force of the run.

It may take a little bit of practice to work these techniques into your run. From a golf swing to a spring, any change of form can feel awkward. Fight through the initial urge to regress to your old form. You'll find that making some of these simple adjustments will keep you from having knee pain.

Now get out there and run!

Dr. Elton