A thousand and one motivational quotes will tell you that exercise means pushing through the pain.
This may be true most of the time, however, there's one pain we do not recommend pushing through and that's "runner's knee."
This injury is one of the worst nightmares for a runner. Luckily there are ways to prevent and treat it.
And we're going to tell you what they are.
What is Runner's Knee?
Before learning how to prevent it, you need to understand what exactly is runner's knee.
The full name is Patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS), and it occurs when too much stress is placed on the knee area. It is extremely common. In fact, 65 percent of athletes receive injuries every year, and PFPS is one of the most common reasons.
Not all athletes will feel the pain that comes from it in the same way.
Some mention feeling a sharp and sudden pain usually on the outside. Others noticed that the pain tended to dull and came in a more chronic fashion.
It won't always affect both knees either and is often noticed while climbing stairs or crossing over uneven terrain.
You might be wondering, "Why are we giving you a medical lesson?"
It's important to understand how to recognize the symptoms of PFPS so that when you notice them you start the recovery process immediately. Continuing to run and push through your workout plans will only aggravate the syndrome and slow down recovery.
Prevention is by far the best and easiest option for a runner. Prevention is especially important if you know your family has a history of runner's knee. Here are 3 tips on how to prevent this unnecessary injury.
Listen to Your Body
Because this syndrome occurs from too much stress and overuse, the first step is to learn to listen to your body.
There's a difference between your body being sore from a good work out and feeling pain in the knee. As you are running, do a mental examination of your body.
This is a good time to evaluate all of the moving pieces. Ask yourself, is there any area that is hurting more than usual?
Stretch, Stretch, and Stretch Again
There is no bad time to stretch. Whether you're at the office, watching tv, or running errands, stretching helps your body in every instance.
However, it's especially important for you to stretch before and after a workout. Some people even find it helpful to stretch after a certain number of miles to keep their muscles and tendons from tightening.
If you are worried that you might be more prone to runner's knee, be sure to incorporate stretches for the both your hips and your hamstrings. These will help prevent PFPS.
Understand the Correct Running Posture
The last prevention tip and arguably one of the most important is to run using the best posture you can. Bad posture during running puts stress on the areas where stress isn't supposed to be.
The body is amazing, however, and will heal and protect itself if you let it. However, this injury comes up because athletes don't take the time to let their body heal and/or continue to put the stress on the wrong spot.
According to New York Road Runners, the best way to run is to keep your body tall. Don't slouch or curve the spine. Instead, you keep your back straight and lean just slightly forward.
The second point they make is that the body shouldn't be doing much twisting. Watch out for twisting the ankles or knees towards the inside or outside. Try to keep them in a straight line as much as possible, and avoid extra movement.
Lastly, they recommend keeping your body relaxed. Tensing up can add unnecessarily pain and stress in the body, which can then manifest itself into PFPS.
We're human, and that means there are times when despite our best efforts, we might still get runner's knee.
Luckily, this syndrome is completely treatable and depending on the severity can be fixed in a matter of days.
Here are 3 tips to help you get back up and running faster than ever.
Strengthen Your Knee
The first step to improve your knee is by doing, drumroll please, more stretches!
While your knee is injured, you'll want to go slow. Stretching might feel uncomfortable sometimes, but it should never feel painful.
Many people claim that using a foam roller on their quads, calves, and hip flexors have been helpful in their recovery.
Exercise With Protection
Just because you are injured doesn't mean you have to stop exercising altogether. In fact, that would not benefit you much at all.
Instead, focus your exercises on keeping your body healthy with limited knee movements. Also, invest in knee protection. This can be something as simple as a knee brace or compression leggings.
Here's how to choose the right compression gear for your needs.
Work with a Doctor
If you tend to be prone to this syndrome, it might be time to talk with a physician.
Many people need inserts and insoles to overcome chronic ankle pain and knee pain. If this sounds like you, check out what to wear to overcome ankle pain.
For most people, runner's knee will go away with rest, relaxation, and better prevention. However, the benefit to talking with doctors is that they can give personalized and unique solutions to all of your running problems.
So don't be afraid if you feel like the first steps you take aren't working. Your body was meant to move and be active, and there are many ways to get it back to that point.
Runner's Knee Warning
Runner's knee is a serious injury that many athletes choose to ignore. However, ignoring the problem will never get rid of it.
That is why it is so important that you follow the prevention and treatment steps at the first sign of pain.
We also recommend looking into equipment and apparel that can help prevent the syndrome from occurring in the first place.
If you have any more questions on runner's knee, contact us.