Are niggly knees adding misery to those marathon miles?

Anterior knee pain is a regular stone in the shoe of many of our runners, both seasoned and first time pavement pounders. With the marathon only weeks away don’t let those creaky hinges be the reason you don’t cross the finish line. Here are some simple tips to try out before the big day.

The knee is a complex hinge joint which is also the centre point of the lower leg. To look at a knee thoroughly we need to look both at what’s above and below it. Foot and leg health are important factors in sending forces up and down from the knee during various stages of running. Ensure that you have good foot health through a combination of good biomechanics, by wearing appropriate footwear and good muscular endurance through regular training of the muscles of the feet. Maintaining good endurance of the lower leg muscles, especially the calf muscles, can help keep a spring in your step and prevent injury. If you have been training your calves we applaud you. Keep up these exercises at regular intervals but do not increase the frequency, in fact decrease it as we get closer to the race. For those of you whom strengthening may be a new concept, its best advised not to start those calf raises before the race unless you have been advised to by a professional following a review. Try focus on gentle stretches and massage as a recovery strategy. Adding new exercises this close to the race is not advised and can ruin your routine.

Above the knee we need to look after our quadriceps and hamstring muscles. Check on the muscle length through simple stretches. If the muscles are feeling overly stiff and sore why not try to massage them out. We commonly perform these soft tissue massages using our hands or a variety of equipment which we have available in clinic, such as massage balls, handheld stick rollers and also foam rollers. Whatever your favoured method is, why not spend some time doing massage during the week. One tip I often recommend to runners is to try a massage and stretching session together on days you are not running. Maybe try this while you watch afternoon tv with the feet up. Another tip many people fine very useful is to apply heat to the muscle after a massage. Why not try a hot water bottle or a warm bath for those tired legs after a massage session.

Don’t forget your glutes and back!! The gluteal muscles are the real driver of your lower limb and are vital for propulsion and also knee stability. We find many of our knee pain patients are suffering because of a lack of control of the knee which is provided by the gluteal muscles, particularly the glute medius muscle. We often get our patient performing what we call activation exercises for our gluteal muscles. We find the humble mini resistance band, which we have in stock, a very effective way of turning on these muscles. Try put one on mid thigh and perform some crab walks, high knee runs and glute bridges. We usually keep the reps low, such as 5-10 and perform 2-3 sets of these just to help warm up the glutes to improve knee control. For the lower back we usually perform a series of stretching movements to limber up before a run. Try pull some off some of your Pilates favourites such as the “Cobra”, “Child’s pose” and simple side lying rotations to help loosen your back before you get going.

If these tips are not helping to shake off those achy knees, we would be happy to take a look and see what help we can offer you to try get you over the finish line on October 28th. We have a full stock of massagers and mini bands at very competitive prices which you may find useful. Drop in anytime to take a look.

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