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No Need for Knee Pain

By Aarti Patel Email By Aarti Patel
September 2011
No Need for Knee Pain Even though running provides tremendous health and cardiovascular fitness benefits, there are several things you should know and practice in order to run effectively and avoid knee injury.

If you’re an avid runner, you might notice that your knees becoming slightly achy over a period of time or that you experience a dull pain in your knees after your run. Your knees might have already suffered an injury from running excessively. Here are some things you should keep in mind:

1. Strengthen muscles. Running relies on balance and strength. Regular resistance training can lower the chance of injury by strengthening not only muscles and bones but also the connective tissues that surround joints. Balance your workout by strengthening the quadriceps, hamstrings, calf, and gluteus muscles, which will help in turn to support the knees and absorb the shock of impact.

2. Wear the right shoe. Wearing the wrong shoe for running can affect your knees and take a
toll on your back. Invest in a good pair of running shoes and make sure you replace them roughly
every 300 to 500 miles of running (yes, keep a log). If you are running outdoors, you may need to
replace them sooner.

3. Don’t forget to stretch. Stretches are an important but often neglected part of your workout.
Although there has been a lot of debate about when to stretch, for runners, stretching is best
performed after your activity. Before the run, walk first for up to 10 minutes to warm up; then
start off with a jog and then run. At the end of your run, cool down for about 10 minutes by
walking and then spend some time stretching. Include some stretches for your quadriceps,
hamstrings, and calves.

4. Eat a nutritious diet. A healthy diet can help protect muscle, cartilage, and joints.
Carbohydrates are your best source of energy and should make up about 60 percent of your total
caloric intake. Protein is also necessary for muscle and tissue repair from damage caused by
running. Vegetarians should pay extra attention to this and make sure that at least 20 percent of
their caloric intake is from protein. Additionally, healthy fats should make up no more than 20
percent of your total caloric intake. Calcium and Vitamin D are also necessary for bone health.
And yes, don't forget adequate hydration—water is best!

5. Place your feet correctly. If your feet are causing a ‘slapping’ sound on the treadmill or
ground, your foot placement is improper and needs attention. When running, make contact with
the ground first with your heel, and then roll toward the ball of the foot, and finally push off with
the front of your foot. Even though you are pushing off with maximum force, you should run
lightly without your feet making a slapping sound.

6. Cross train. Finally, no matter how cautious you are, the repetitive movement of running
is still hard on the knees and joints. It might be difficult initially to break away from running if
that’s your favorite sport, but do try to alternate running with other activities. Biking, ellipticals,
and swimming are good options.

Some other things to keep in mind: if you are obese or overweight, running is not a safe activity
for you. Extra weight can place additional stress on the knees and joints and can be damaging.
Finally allow enough time for rest and recovery. Add mileage gradually when running, and
listen to your body. Sometimes it’s the overuse and over training that sets you up for injury. By
following the precautions listed above, you will not only run safely but also enjoy running for
many years to come.

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