Health

Vital Things Your Knees Need To Stay Injury Free

One runner dives into her own knee struggles and shares what works best to protect those joints.

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Sometimes those moments that seem the hardest end up teaching us the most. I am passionate about running but when I had what I call my kneepocalypse, I thought my adventures with running might be over. This fear was only strengthened when my orthopedist kept telling me that running was not good for me. Obviously he had no idea that running has been my therapy for anything that ailed me for years. It is the reason that my blood pressure stays low and my spirits high.

I was lucky that when I hurt my knee, I only strained it. There were no rips or tears, but I strained it badly enough to need four weeks of physical therapy. Any runner knows that the last thing a runner wants to hear is that you cannot run for weeks. While a non-runner will say that the rest will probably be good for you, a runner sees all the hard work going out the window. We know that at the end of the six week period, we will have to rebuild and gradually get back in shape. The positive aspect of my injury was that I wanted to make sure that it never happened again, so I asked lots of questions and researched ways to protect myself.

Everything Is Connected

Everything is connected so when something is off balance in one part of your body, it can throw off everything else. My problem actually started with a sore hip which changed into a sore hamstring, then a super tight IT band. I ignored it until I started to have pain in my knees and even then I kept running until one day a searing pain ripped through my knee and I could barely walk. The interesting thing is that the affected knee was on my right leg and all my problems had been on my left. I was definitely out of balance and my body had been sending me signals that something was wrong for awhile and I had not been paying attention.

Strength training is a great way to keep your entire body strong. You do not have to do complicated exercises or spend hours in the gym, a routine with basic strength work for about 20 minutes will help keep you strong. Most gyms have someone who will show you a good routine. Experiment with the right weights. You should lift weights that allow you to have good form. If you cannot afford to go to the gym, you can do most strength exercises with things found in your home or using your own body weight. Do tricep dips with a chair or low table. Do bicep curls with 2 milk jugs. Pushups, situps and planks are always good exercises.

Work Your Core

Your core is like mission control for your body. If your core is weak, the rest of your body will suffer. Do situps, pushups, planks, balance exercises and anything else to work your middle. One easy exercise is to hold two weights at waist height and twist back and forth about twenty times, then drop the weights to your sides and bend to the right and then left about twenty times.

Power Comes From The Hips

Your strength, your speed and your power are in your hips. Not only do you need to keep them strong but you also need to keep them flexible. Do good stretches at least once a day.

Stretching Really Does Matter

You need to keep all your muscles and joints limber and flexible. Find the time to stretch and you will see a huge difference. Go to you tube for some ideas for stretches.

Balance

Simple balance exercises will help your core and your knees. I brought home a balance board and my whole family used it. Try doing your side leg lifts without holding on to anything.

Materials

  • A foam roller can help you work out sore muscles and improve circulation.
  • Athletic tape will give you extra support if you have a sore muscle.
  • Rubber bands that can be used as elastic bands can be used for resistance training.

You cannot just run, at least not forever and I want to run for as long as I can. I never feel that I have worked out unless I have run but I know that I have to do other exercises to strengthen my body so that I can run injury free. Cross training, stretching, strength training and core exercises are all ways to stay strong. Your knees need special attention. If you take care of your body and do your best to keep everything aligned, you can continue to experience the joy that is running.

Have feedback about running and knee issues? Tweet @WomensRunning and author @BonnBonnga!

Read More About Taking Care Of Your Knees:
5 Exercise Modifications For Injured Knees
Is Running Really Bad For Your Knees?