Knee pain isn’t just a problem for old people: It can hit at any age, says Matthew Abdel, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon and associate professor at the Mayo Clinic.
And it’s happening more and more frequently. According to a study from the Boston University School of Medicine, the prevalence of knee pain has increased significantly over a 20-year period. Currently, one in five Americans have suffered knee pain, and it’s the culprit behind a third of all doctor’s visits for muscle and bone pain, says Stephen Nicholas, M.D., founder and current director of New York Orthopedics.
Knee pain can be a problem for anyone, but runners top the list. We want to believe that just being active will keep us strong and healthy, and since it’s time for our long runs, today is a great day to talk about the #1 knee wrecker for runners…
#1 Knee Wrecker: Skipping Our Warmup – We’re all strapped for time and want to make the most out of our run. But jumping right into a workout could really mess up our knees. That’s because warming up lubricates the knee joint, circulates synovial fluid into the knee, improves muscle elasticity, and boosts oxygen flow to the area, reducing your chance of injury to the knees.
Knee Saver: Stretch/Warm Up Before Workout – “The most important thing you can do for your knees is give yourself an appropriate warm up period,” says Dr. Nicholas. “Stretching your lower legs is particularly key for long term running health. When the muscles are unevenly lengthened, the knee caps pull to the side, which causes wear or pain on the joint.”
Set aside at 5-10 minutes before your workout to work on dynamic stretching and drills. Warming up lets your muscles gently strengthen, which is key for healthy knees.
Knees need a full range of motion—to move back and forth, twist a little, and pivot. This will protect you if you find yourself in awkward positions and increased flexibility stresses the joint less.
What to do? Try some of these easy running drills before setting out on your long run this weekend:
There are other ways to wreck your knees and we talk about those later…but since it’s time for long runs and races…know that adding a few minutes of an easy dynamic stretching/warm up routine can keep you from feeling pain and save you a bunch of money and time needed for Dr. visits.
Day 18 exercises: Long Run/Race + 7 Key Stretches for Runners + Plank (:60) + Wall Sit (:60)
- Ab Challenge – 40 Crunches, 40 Bicycles Crunches, 40 Leg Lifts + :70 Plank (1:10)
- Burpees – Rest
Don’t forget that our long runs are FUN! Make them fun by taking out the stress…go for an easy paced run for a distance that puts you out of your comfort zone but don’t stress to the point that it is no longer fun. Come home feeling revitalized and STRONG! Then knock out your ab challenge and stretch it out Crew!
Remember that you are doing this for you. Running has given you courage, strength, determination, and a way to love yourself first. Never outrun your joy of running!