Running is a great way to stay fit. It’s easy to get into, doesn’t require much equipment and can be done anywhere. But running is also notorious for causing knee problems.
Don’t worry- with a little bit of care you can prevent knee pain when running. Here are five tips to help you run without damaging your knees.
Good shoes will make all the difference, but finding the right pair can be tricky. Every runner is different and that pair of shoes that’s perfect for your friend might not work for you. If you can, try to get to a specialist running shop. Trained staff will examine your running gait and match the right pair of shoes to your feet.
Consider where you are running. Concrete is awfully hard on the knees. Soft surfaces like grass are much bouncier and kinder on your joints. In between, there are other options like tarmac or gravel. Try to limit the amount of running you do on the hardest surfaces. It really does make a big difference.
Slow but steady
The biggest downfall for new runners is trying to do too much, too soon. You will find that your fitness levels build up very quickly. Your training program might say to run for only a few minutes, but you’ve got plenty of breath left, and so you will be tempted to push a little further. It’s not a good idea. Your lungs will get used to running much more quickly than your joints and muscles. You need to give your body time to adjust.
Even experienced runners sometimes still end up putting too much stress on their joints. You should never increase the distance and time you run by more than about 10% each week. If you’re a beginner, it’s best to follow a training program and stick to it. Your progress might seem frustratingly slow, but in the long run, you’re avoiding injuries.
Take a break if you need to
Even if you do everything right, you might find that your knees will start hurting. If there are a few aches during or after a run, don’t panic. It’s probably nothing to be concerned about. That said, if you notice any pain it’s probably a good idea to take a few days off until it goes away. Ice down the knee, and do some stretches. By giving your body a chance to recover, you don’t end up with long term injuries that will keep you from a lot more than just a run or two.
Stretch and strengthen
If you are not used to running it will take your body time to adjust. You can help your knees by doing strengthening and stretching exercises. You can find these on the internet, but it is worth having a few sessions with a personal trainer or a physical therapist. Either way, try to find someone who is experienced with runners. They can give you great advice exercises that help to prevent injury.
Also, consider joining a runners’ club. These often organise meets for new runners. Not only are these a great way to add a social aspect to your exercise, qualified trainers can also help you to develop a good running form that will stave off injuries.
With a little bit of care and patience, you will be building up to running further and faster, without your knees giving you any trouble whatsoever.