6 Exercises That Help Prevent Knee Pain When Running
The key to preventing knee pain may be in your form. Here are six key posture-pointers and exercises to keep in mind during your next run.
Arm raises for relaxed posture
When you run, try to keep your head over your shoulders, specifically, keep your ears lined up over your shoulders, with your chin parallel to the floor. Arm raises make it easier and more comfortable to hold your shoulders back and down while running, and to keep your head in proper alignment. "Your posture should be relaxed so that the effort can be put into the running" advises Dr. Millar. To do: Bend forward slightly from your hips with your back in a straight line. Begin with both arms straight down toward the floor. Next, rotate your thumbs to point up and lift both arms straight out to the side of your body. Repeat ten times. Here are even more upper body strength moves for toned arms and shoulders.
Toe touches to help you lean forward
Researchers concluded that running with your torso leaning slightly forward decreases knee pain. "As we alter the pull of a muscle at one end, there will be resultant changes at the other end," shares A. Lynn Millar, PT, PhD, chair of the Department of Physical Therapy at Winston-Salem State University. This means as we lean forward slightly, we increase the tension on the hip-part of the front of the thigh, or quadriceps, muscle. The result is decreased risk of knee injury and pain in the front of the knee while running. "People often think that a forward lean of the trunk involves bending at the waist to get the trunk forward. In actuality, the forward lean starts at your ankles, not your waist" says Brett Klika, strength and conditioning coach. Simple toe touches improve balance and core strength. To do: With both arms across your chest, begin by standing on your right leg. Lift your left foot off the floor. Next, bending from your hips only, bend your torso forward about six inches and then return to your starting upright position. Once you've mastered the form, instead of placing both arms across your chest, reach both arms toward the floor while maintaining a straight back with your chin tucked in. Do ten times, then release. Repeat on the other side for ten counts. If your legs are still achy, try these proven knee pain treatments.
Mountain climbers so you to lift your knees
Mountain climbers are effective at teaching your legs and core muscles to work together and strengthening the front of your hips and thighs. To do: Begin in a push-up position on your hands and toes with your arms directly under your shoulders. Keeping your body parallel to the floor, hop your right foot forward toward your chest. Next, in one motion hop your right foot back and your left foot forward. Repeat until ten repetitions are complete. Read on for more benefits of mountain climbers.
Single leg squats to keep your knees lined up over your ankles
Single leg squats help strengthen the muscles around the knee and improve the stability of your hips and knees. These are the muscles that keep the knee pointing forward when running. To do: With both arms across your chest, balance on your right leg. Bending from your right knee, lower your body down about six inches. Return to standing upright to complete one rep. Do ten times. Then repeat on your left leg for ten reps. Here are additional ways to upgrade your squat.
Pelvic tilts to prevent overstriding
Keeping your hips in neutral means you'll have more power with each stride. Pelvic tilts help you hold the proper positioning of your hips for longer. "If your hips are tilted too far forward, you're bending at the waist and creating poor posture" says Klika. To do: Stand up straight with both hands on your hips. Tilt your pelvis back and forward, without bending your knees. Do ten repetitions. Not sure what stride means? Read on to learn more about running terms.
Squat rows to strengthen your lower back
For proper running form, move your elbows forward and back, instead of side to side, with elbows bent at 90-dgrees. Squat rows help to strengthen the muscles of your upper back, and your entire lower body. To do: Begin standing with feet hip-width apart, and your arms along your side. Bending from both knees and hips, lower your body down about six inches, and at the same time extend both arms straight out in front of you, palms facing in toward each other. Upon standing, bend both elbows, keeping your arms parallel to the floor concentrating on pulling your shoulders down and back. Repeat ten times. Here's how to do a perfect squat every time.