Knee pain while running can be caused by:
1. Shoes that do not absorb shock properly.
2. Muscles around the hip that are too tight.
3. Muscles around the hip that are too weak.
During running, when your foot hits the ground, it is approximately 3 to 5 times your body weight. That is a lot of force for your body to control, reduce, and transfer. If you have muscle imbalances at your hip (certain muscles that are too tight, and others that are too weak), then your knee will compensate by moving inwards when your foot hits the ground. This significantly increases the stress of your knee which overtime can lead to pain. However, you can help prevent or alleviate this pain with a few easy additions to your warm-up or workout routine.
Step 1: Inhibit tight or overactive muscles. Try a technique called self myofascial release to massage out knots in your muscles that limit your muscle’s ability to work properly. Using a foam roll, roll the front of your thigh, side of your thigh, and hip rotators. When you feel a tender spot, maintain pressure on the spot for 20-30 seconds.
Step 2: Lengthen short, tight muscles. Static stretching (holding a stretched muscle for 30 seconds) helps to increase the length of short, tight muscles and over time, restores these muscles to optimum length so they can produce, reduce and stabilize forces throughout the body efficiently. Stretch your outer hamstring, and inner thigh muscles.
Step 3: Activate weak muscles. This step is essential as several weak muscles will not be working optimally and need to be “woken up” to get them firing correctly. These exercises can help wake up your core and glute muscles: floor bridge and side to side tube walking.
Step 4: Integrate or coordinate your movement. Teaching your muscles to work together properly to transfer and absorb force. Try the cable squat to row. This is a great exercise that utilizes and conditions the whole body.
This pain is actually quite common in runners. What you're experiencing sounds like a condition called runner's knee (or IT-band syndrome). Your IT-band is a large tendonis sheath that runs the length of the outside of your thigh and attaches to the outside of your knee. If that sheath becomes tight (due to muscle imbalances or poor running mechanics), it can begin to rub on the outside of your thigh bone close to the knee, leading to inflammation and pain on the outside of the knee. To help remedy the issue, foam roll your calves, the outside of your thigh, and the front of your hip. Foam rolling is a self-massage technique used to loosen the muscles that can cause tightness in the IT-band. Foam rolling will also help loosen the IT-band itself. Next, statically stretch your calves and the front of your hip; holding each stretch for 30 seconds. These stretches, along with the foam rolling technique, will help improve the range of motion of your ankles, knee, and hip. Next, perform a strengthening exercise for the side of your hips (or gluteus medius). This muscle is often weak in people with runner's knee and causes the IT-band to become tight. A simple exercise to strengthen this muscle is called lateral tube walking. Perform 1-3 sets of 10-15 repetitions of this exercise. This routine should help increase muscle and joint range of motion, and help strengthen key muscles that will take stress off the IT-band.
This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.