We hear it everywhere, at the office, at school, at the gym, even at the mechanic’s; “I’ve always had bad knees”, “My shoulders have always hurt” and others.

We have many creative excuses about knee pain but it’s time to drop the excuses and quit ignoring the running pain.

The body is a complex organism and pain is an indication of something not working properly. We cannot expect to continue running on the pain and not have any consequences.

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The exercise being performed should be done with proper form. Proper form is as (or even more) important than the effort itself. The running we do is a perfect example of this.

In school you were taught mathematics but not how to run. Many people simply exert themselves and think they’re making big gains. The reality could be the exact opposite.

Is bad running form giving you knee pain? Lets find out, keep reading!

The problem of runner’s knee is quite common. What it is not so common is the knowledge about what causes it and what is to blame. A knee joint allows a wide range of motion.

There are six dimensions of motion in your knee. We are only focusing on the flexion and extension; in other words brining the leg in and out when running.

Now consider the operation of the knee during a run.

The quads (top) are extending the knee out and hamstrings (bottom) are pulling the leg in. Stand up while you’re reading this and kick the leg out and bring it back in. Now run in place and feel your legs working. You should have a better understanding of your knee and leg while running now.

If you have weak thigh muscles (quads and hamstrings) coupled with unstable foot support or inadequate footwear cause stress throughout the leg. Every strike on the ground shakes the entire leg and body.

Guess which point feels this stress the most? The knees!

The knees are the weakest link and that’s where the most damage takes place when we aren’t running properly and disregarding knee pain. Imagine the joints getting grinding back and forth; you can well imagine what will happen when the cartilage(tissue around the bones) finally wears away.

Think of an engine running without engine oil. The parts will collide and then the phrase ‘wear and tear’ will come to mind when you are replacing an engine in your car. I might have experience with this but we won’t go there. The point is; you get engine changes and don’t ignore that yellow light on your dash. Do not ignore the knee pain and keep running!

Now you know why ignoring knee pain is a bad idea. Check out the steps below to minimize the risks.

Steps you can take

1. Use proper shoes. Go for flat soles if you really want to hit the road to recovery. Flat soles ensure that the proper regions of your foot are in contact with the ground; namely the balls and heels. This will engage the correct muscles in the leg and greatly reduce the knee’s vulnerability.

knee pain running 2

2. Strengthen your legs through isolated exercises. Imbalanced muscles can be a reason for painful knees. Do stretches as well so each muscle is mobile on its own rather than restricting other muscle. E.g. stiff hamstrings can cause weak abdominal muscles, which in turn make the body lean forward.

3. Be VERY conscious of your form. In this article I had you run in place to connect with your body. It’s your body connect with it! Lean up against a wall and straighten up. Now hold this posture. When you run, make sure you have a posture similar to this. Don’t be leaning forward or running with     a slumped back.

4. Don’t slam your foot into the pavement while running. Instead make it a rolling motion with the heel followed by the forefoot making contact. The opposite of this would be making contact with the balls of your foot or slamming your foot altogether.

5. Stop leaning and start distributing your weight evenly throughout the body. Your body should form a straight line in terms of form and posture. As you stand your weight should be over the middle of feet and your center of mass should be slightly over your heel. This means you’ll have to practice. Just take five minutes a day and you’ll see drastic improvement.

After reading this you won’t disregard knee pain any longer while running.

You have been shown some steps to become a better and safer runner. I want to leave you with something a physical therapy mentor of mine left me with and I share this with all of my clients, “I’m not the boss, you are not the boss, your body is the boss.

Listen to it!” Now go out there and practice pain free running!

* Side note: You may not be able to run as far at first with shoes that are more flat, work up to your normal running distance.

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