Imagine you’re out enjoying your morning run, or maybe you’re getting ready to catch that fly ball at the league softball game, when all of a sudden you’re burdened with that nagging knee pain and it comes out of nowhere. Sure, it will pass eventually, but for now it could limit your mobility, and you weren’t even participating in strenuous physical activity.
Unfortunately, knee pain can come along at any time, often with no warning. Even if it isn’t something as difficult as an ACL tear, the nagging pain can really dampen your ability to enjoy running, shopping, kneeling in the garden, or playing with the kids. But was there anything you could have done to avoid this pain? Maybe so.
Ideally, everyone should regularly get 3 types of exercise to prevent injury to all parts of the body, including the knees:
- Range-of-motion exercises will help maintain normal joint movement and relieve stiffness
- Strengthening exercises will keep or increase muscle strength
- Aerobic or endurance exercises (such as walking or swimming) will improve function of the heart and circulation and help control weight. Weight control can be important to people who have arthritis because extra weight puts pressure on many joints, including the knee.
To keep knee pain and other musculoskeletal pain at bay, it’s important to maintain an overall healthy lifestyle, exercise, get adequate rest, and eat healthy foods. It’s also important for runners and other athletes to perform physical therapist-approved stretching and warm-up exercises on a daily basis—especially before beginning physical activity.
But my knees get sore when I run. Is there anything I can do to prevent this?
One potential cause for knee pain is poor running technique. Poor shock absorption or inadequate leg strength may cause unnecessary stress on the knee, ultimately causing pain. Because running is a repetitive, high impact activity, it is vital to practice the proper form and to make sure that your muscle strength/endurance is evaluated. A professional, such as a physical therapist, can identify the issues that may be contributing to your symptoms and advise you on strategies to remedy the situation.
How do I learn proper technique?
Northern partners with Gazelle Sports to offer Good Form Running Clinics, where you will learn to improve your running technique to reduce your chances of injury and run faster. These clinics have been extremely popular in the past and have quickly filled up. Check our events page to find out when the next clinic will be offered.
The important thing to remember, is that you don’t have to live with pain. Your body was designed to run like a well oiled machine – recurring pain is not normal, and can almost always be fixed with the proper diagnosis, exercises, and treatment plans. Physical therapy is a safe way to treat recurring pain and patients often avoid medications and surgery. If you’re experiencing pain in your knees, or other parts of your body, give physical therapy a try…your body just might thank you.