Run It – A Workout for Runner’s Knee (plus 5 more workouts for running injuries!)

Running injuries suck - so the running coaches and bloggers of the Run It series put together advice and workouts for 6 common running injuries.

Runners disagree on a lot of things. The best foot strike, what GPS watch to buy, which fuel for the long run. But one thing we can all unequivocally agree upon is running injuries SUCK. Even if they’re at the early stage of minor annoyance, we know we have to deal with them or it’s going to lead to time off running…and nobody wants to be around a runner who can’t run. 

This month’s Run It series is full of advice and workouts for dealing with not one, but six different types of running injuries. This is definitely a pin it, but hope you never need it for later type post.

If you suspect you have one of the injuries addressed in this month’s Run It, then hobble (don’t run!) to see your doctor, or a sports orthopedist, to get diagnosed properly before you attempt any kind of workout to treat the issue.

Running injuries suck - so the running coaches and bloggers of the Run It series put together advice and workouts for 6 common running injuries.

RUNNER’S KNEE – SYMPTOMS AND CAUSES

Runner’s Knee, otherwise known as Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome, is one of the most common running injuries around. Usually, the symptom you’ll first notice is an aching pain behind or just above the kneecap. It also might feel tender to the touch, almost like a bruise. It might hurt while running, or it could feel fine while you’re actually running, but surface again when you’re walking down stairs or have been sitting for a long period of time. (I had runner’s knee about 10 years ago and I still remember sitting through a movie in pain – I couldn’t even tell you what the movie was because all I could focus on was my kneecap.) You may have pain in both knees, or just one.

The cause of the pain is the patella (kneecap) rubbing against the head of the femur, which would usually slide smoothly when you’re using your knee to extend or flex your lower leg. It could be rubbing due to worn knee cartilage, or a biomechanical problem (where your gait is causing the patella to track differently across the femoral head). Biomechanical issues often stem from the hip area, with weak abductors and external rotators causing your femur to rotate internally as you run, creating strain on the knee structure.  Lack of quadriceps strength as well as tightness in the hamstrings and calves can also be a contributing factor to the injury.

RUNNER’S KNEE – TREATMENT

Okay, deep breath (you might have sensed this coming…). The first thing you should do is stop running. Continuing to run will only exacerbate the problem and make it last longer. You can try biking to see if that feels okay, swimming because it’s non-impactful on your knees, or even try pool running (this is a great guide to pool running if you’re new to it). 

In the meantime, focus on strengthening your quadriceps, external rotators in your hips, and stretching your calves and hamstrings. That’s where this runner’s knee workout will help!

Running injuries suck - so the running coaches and bloggers of the Run It series put together advice and workouts for 6 common running injuries. Runner's Knee workout (click for 5 more!)

CLAMS

Lie on your side, knees bent. With feet planted together, open and close your knees.

LATERAL LEG RAISES

Lie on your side, propped up on one elbow. With your bottom leg bent, slowly raise your straight top leg, being careful not to let your toes point up as you raise the leg. (This move works your gluteus medius, on the side of your hip. When you point your toes up, your hip flexors at the front of your hip will take over). Lower slowly back to your start position.

FIRE HYDRANTS

In all fours position, raise your bent leg up to the side, and back again. (Yes, it’s called a fire hydrant because you’re mimicking a dog peeing on a hydrant!)

WALL SIT SQUATS WITH A BALL

If your runner’s knee pain is very bad, start out with wall sits only and see how it feels. To add the squat, position a stability ball between your back and the wall and push into it as you slowly lower to the wall sit/squat position of knees at 90 degrees to the floor, then back to standing. 

HEEL DROPS

Stand on the front edge of a small step or riser. Position one foot slightly in front of the step and lower slowly into shallow squat on your supporting leg until the heel of the other foot touches the floor. Repeat on the other side.

STATIC LATERAL LUNGES

Regular lunges may be too stressful on your knee if your pain is bad. Try these static lunges instead. Start in a wide standing position, then lean slowly into a lunge on one leg, keeping the other leg straight. Come back up to your starting position, then repeat on the other side. Note: Your feet never leave the ground in this exercise.

STRETCHING

Your focus for stretching and self-myofascial release like foam rolling should be your hamstrings and calves when it comes to runner’s knee. Make sure you’re only doing static stretching when your muscles are already warm, after working out. 

Ready for more injury prevention workouts? 

Laura from This Runner’s Recipes has a workout and tips on dealing with plantar fasciitis – this is a common injury I hear of often from runner clients. It can be incredibly painful, so take Laura’s advice!

Running injuries suck - so the running coaches and bloggers of the Run It series put together advice and workouts for 6 common running injuries.

Allie from Vita – Train for Life is a powerhouse athlete who just gets better with age. She’s like fine wine. So obviously she has expert tips on staying injury free as you move up through those age brackets in running.

Running injuries suck - so the running coaches and bloggers of the Run It series put together advice and workouts for 6 common running injuries.

Sarah from Run Far Girl has a great workout to deal with a literal pain in the butt. Her exercises to prevent and rehab piriformis syndrome and high hamstring tendonitis will stop you wincing and grabbing your cheeks.

Running injuries suck - so the running coaches and bloggers of the Run It series put together advice and workouts for 6 common running injuries.

Nellie from Brooklyn Active Mama came up with an awesome workout to keep you running injury free. A little bit of strength training as prevention goes a long way for runners.

Running injuries suck - so the running coaches and bloggers of the Run It series put together advice and workouts for 6 common running injuries.

Angela from Happy Fit Mama has dealt with her share of injuries (she’s working through a stress fracture right now), so she knows what’s most important for runners…our glutes. Keep them strong and you are well on your way to staying injury-free.

Running injuries suck - so the running coaches and bloggers of the Run It series put together advice and workouts for 6 common running injuries.

What’s the worst running injury you’ve experienced? How did you recover?

 

Comments

  1. Recently. Sporadically. My knee has started bothering me. Now šŸ™‚ I’m really really really careful because I don’t want to start my 50s injured ā€“ ā€“ but I just signed up for another marathon and I need to go off and Google external rotators and read more!!

    Thanks for these!!!
    Carla recently posted…It Takes A Village.My Profile

  2. I’m going to pass your workout along to some of my athletes! This month’s round-up was one of my favorites – I love reading about different types of injury prevention exercises.
    Laura @ This Runner’s Recipes recently posted…Greek Omelet with Spicy Sweet PotatoesMy Profile

  3. Hey,

    I’m experienced in working out but I’m just taking my first steps in running so it was really worth to read this article! It has surely gave me some knowledge and as I used to squats heavy I will need to be really careful about my knees now that I have started to run! Thanks for the tips
    Brian recently posted…Should You Wear Ankle Weights All Day (FAQs)?My Profile

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