5 Ways to Stop Knee Pain in Runners

By Ryan Domeyer PT, DPT, CMPT for Athletico

Between 20 to 93 percent of runners suffer from knee pain, making it the most common lower extremity injury.  When knee pain occurs, one of the treatment options is physical therapy. Physical therapists are trained to examine, diagnose and treat knee pain to help patients return to the activities they love.

The majority of knee pain associated with running is not caused by direct trauma butknee-pain rather improper loading. Running requires the ability to absorb the weight of the body when the runner’s foot hits the ground in order to propel the runner forward. Although it might not seem like it, running is actually a complicated skill that most people do not actively practice prior to their recreational run. Knee pain can start during a run, but most commonly is experienced after running longer distances. Research shows the more miles you run the higher risk of sustaining a knee injury. The most common causes of knee pain in runners are iliotibial (IT) band syndrome, chondromalacia patella (runners knee) and patellar tendon pain.

It is common for runners to treat their knee pain with rest and ice and hope it goes away on its own. Although rest can help during the initial stages of knee pain, there are many ways that runners can take load off their knees and prevent future injuries, including the five listed below:

  1. Improve Hip Flexor and Quadriceps Mobility

Americans spend on average 13 hours per day sitting.1 Sitting for long periods of time during school, work or watching TV causes the front of the hip to shorten, which leads to tightness in the hip flexor and quadricep muscles. Stretching or foam rolling are the most efficient ways to improve hip flexor and quadriceps mobility to lessen knee pain. For more information on stretching and foam rolling, read:

Stretching: It’s All in the Hips Part 3

Foam Rolling: 3 Ways to Roll Away Muscle Tension

  1. Improve Hip Strength

Another adverse effect of sitting during the day is the inefficient use of our gluteal muscles. The gluteal muscles are the largest muscles in the body and when trained properly, can lessen the load on the knee. The easiest way to improve strength of the gluteal muscles is with bodyweight exercises including bridges, planks, side planks, bird dogs and hip abduction raises.

  1. Improve Balance

As previously mentioned, running requires the ability to land on one leg repeatedly to propel the body forward. The knee is the middle connection between the ground and the body. A loss in balance can lead to poor force absorption from the ground with each step taken during running.

To test balance, try standing on one leg without using your arms for 30 seconds. If this is difficult, balance can be improved by practicing. To take this balance exercise a step further, try balancing on one leg without holding onto anything with your eyes closed. If balance continues to be a problem, consider scheduling a complimentary injury screening at your nearest Athletico Physical Therapy.

  1. Improve Core Position and Stability

Another way to improve muscle imbalances is to improve core strength and the ability to run with a neutral spine. To do this, begin your run on the right track with a neutral neck aligned over your shoulders, neutral low back without a large backward curve and feet straight forward. Awareness of your low back and core position is important at the start of a run, as it becomes more difficult to maintain as fatigue sets in.

  1. Increase Number of Steps

Running technique is the most significant way to decrease the load on the knee to prevent or improve an injury. A simple way to improve technique is by increasing the number of steps taken. Although it may seem counterintuitive to take more steps, this will prevent a poor foot strike position and set the body in a good position to fall forwardathletico300x250 rather than absorb the force.

If you need help with running technique, request a video gait analysis at Athletico, which provides real-time audio and visual feedback on your running style. This will enable your physical therapist to provide feedback that not only helps improve efficiency, but also helps to prevent injuries.

Click to Schedule a Complimentary Injury Screen

No Turning Back: Reduce Back Pain with These Spine- Stabilizing Exercises

Intro by Megan Wilson: In today’s world, technology is king—and it has helped make us more sedentary than at any other time in human history. Is it any wonder that back pain affects 80 percent of us at some point in our lives? The good news is research shows that regular activity can significantly reduce back pain. Taking a few minutes every day for simple, easy stretches and basic core-stabilization exercises can help you feel more comfortable and make you more mobile. Use the infographic below to get started!

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ACL Bracing by DonJoy

HELPING WITH PREVENTION, PROTECTION & HEALING

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DonJoy pioneered the concept of functional knee bracing more than 30 years ago. Our first prototypes were simple neoprene sleeves sewn together in the Carlsbad, Calif. garage of our founders, Philadelphia Eagles Offensive Line Captain Mark Nordquist and local lawyer Ken Reed. Those first braces came from a deep understanding of the need for prevention, protection and healing, and DonJoy has led the profession of performance ever since by studying the body, listening to athletes, consulting physicians and pushing the envelope of innovation.

THE PERCEPTION

The overall perception of knee bracing technology available to most patients today is that “everyday” knee braces can be unsightly, bulky, heavy, minimally effective, restrictive and uncomfortable. These misconceptions combine to produce “brace anxiety” among many patients, often preventing mainstream adoption and compliance of braces that can help prevent injuries, allow people to remain active while healing, and protect the knee from future injury.

THE REALITY

Patients are looking for quick, effective and economic options for maintaining or regaining their life activities; most want to delay expensive, invasive surgeries. While some patients are turning to the use of prescription narcotics (which can lead to addiction) and cortisone shots to manage their pain, these treatment options do not provide stability to the knee.

THE FACTS

Young people between the ages of 15-25 account for half of all ACL injuries.

A person who has torn their ACL has a 15 times greater risk of a second ACL injury during the initial 12 months after ACL reconstruction, and risk of ACL injury to the opposite knee is two times that of the restructured knee.

Many athletes don’t return to sport after ACL reconstruction due to fear of re-injury.

BRACING FOR PREVENTION

Given the physicality of football, it’s easy to understand why collegiate and professional linemen wear braces on both knees. The line of scrimmage is an environment prone to knee injuries, so team doctors, athletic trainers and coaches don’t hesitate to equip their players with bilateral (both knees) custom braces.

As with helmets and shoulder pads, knee braces have become standard equipment to assist in preventing season-ending knee injuries. And the same logic holds true with skiing, snowboarding, soccer, basketball, volleyball, professional rodeo, water sports and others. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

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BRACING POST INJURY

Why brace after ACL reconstruction? Clinicians will typically prescribe a functional knee brace after the patient has regained full range of motion—that’s usually between three to five months after surgery. Graft strength of the new ACL is considerably weaker than the native (original) ACL during the first 12 months, so a brace during this early period helps protect it from harmful forces that occur in everyday life or in sport.defiance-300x250

Bracing also elevates a patient’s confidence, allowing them to return to their previous or enhanced level of activity. Just look to athletes including Robert Griffin III, Tiger Woods, Adrian Peterson, Tom Brady, Lindsey Vonn, Matt Ryan and Peyton Manning just to name a few. Another important reason? Peace of mind. A functional knee brace provides not only confidence for the patient, but confidence for the surgeon, knowing that their patient’s knee is protected.

Sports Therapy by ATI

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ATI Sports Medicine athletic trainers work with athletes at all levels of competition to prevent, evaluate and treat sports injuries.

One of the largest employers of certified athletic trainers in the country, ATI offers:

  • On-site services at practices, games and events
  • Communication with coaches, physicians, parents and athletes
  • Clinical evaluation and diagnosis
  • Immediate and emergency care
  • Treatment, rehabilitation and education
  • Organizational and professional health and well-being
  • Conditioning program development
  • Therapeutic massage
  • Nutrition programs
  • On-call accessibility
  • Comprehensive concussion management

Highly Qualified, Coordinated Care

ATI’s athletic trainers are allied healthcare professionals, and must meet qualificationsSports Therapy - Highly Qualified, Coordinated Care set by the Board of Certification, Inc. in most states. Also, our athletic trainers:

  • Coordinate care under the direction of a physician and other healthcare professionals
  • Are members of the healthcare profession and are recognized by the American Medical Association
  • Have a bachelor’s or master’s degree from an accredited college or university, and must pass a comprehensive exam to earn their credentials and practice athletic training
  • Are experts at recognizing, treating and preventing musculoskeletal injuries

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35 Benefits of Excercising During Pregnancy

Should you keep exercising after you become pregnant? This is the question many women who work out or who play sports ask themselves as soon as it happens. Many mothers-to-be believe pregnancy is a time to nest, relax, and let the baby grow. However, it is possible to continue to do some exercises while pregnant. In fact, many now believe that it is a vital part of maintaining both the health of the mother and of the baby too.

Naturally, the range of sports and exercises becomes more limited when a baby is on board, but it does not rule all of them out. Before deciding which sports to do be it Tai Chi or something else, it is important to understand why you should be doing exercises in the first place.

Of the many benefits, there are 4 main categories – physical health while pregnant, mental and emotional health, benefits to both the baby and the mother, and post-delivery health benefits. To find out the 35 most common reasons for exercising during pregnancy, check out this article.

Contributed by Jessica Walter