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- Runner's knee is something you hear
fairly regularly in the running world.
It is something that can seriously hamper your training
or leave you completely sidelined.
So today, I'm heading to the gym,
and I'm gonna be taking a closer look
at what exactly is going on in runner's knee
and, more importantly, how you can prevent
and avoid it in the first place.
Okay, so runner's knee is probably
something most of you have heard about,
but do you really know what it is?
Well, I'm going to very quickly try and explain,
and to help I brought in a model knee.
Now, this is actually a slightly poorly model knee
because it's actually got a ruptured ACL tendon here.
So actually count yourself lucky
if you've only got a runner's knee.
But actually all jokes aside,
ignoring this dangly ACL tendon,
it's actually gonna help me demonstrate
and run through how the knee works.
So you've got the knee cap, the patella, just here,
and that's situated over the knee joint.
And that is all held in place by the muscles
and then obviously the tendons
that are connected to those muscles.
So you've got the quadriceps tendon here
coming out above the patella,
and then that would go into your quadriceps muscle.
And then beneath that, we have the patella tendon,
so that connects from the patella
down into the top of the tibia.
Now runner's knee is actually a bit of an umbrella term
for one of several conditions
that can cause this discomfort or pain
around the kneecap patella region.
But as the name suggests, runner's knee,
it is most commonly caused by running,
but actually, any activity that stresses the knee joint
could be a cause of this disorder.
So it could be walking, could be skiing,
could be jumping, could even be playing football.
But if you were to have runner's knee
what you would experience is perhaps
a dull aching feeling above, below,
or even behind the kneecap.
You may even experience some swelling,
or you may even get some cracking, popping,
or grinding sort of feeling or sensation within the knee.
Now this is all caused by an irritation
of the soft tissue or lining of the knee.
You can even have worn or torn cartridge,
or you could even have some strained tendons.
Now obviously, this is not something any of us want,
or if you do actually have
some ongoing issues with runner's knee,
then you probably want to know how to prevent it.
So, let's run through some tips.
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So first of all, you should gradually increase
your training volume and intensity,
and regardless of runner's knee,
that is just good training advice full stop.
You should never dramatically increase any of your training.
You should always be making sure
that it's done incrementally.
In fact, if you were to flip through a running book
and flip to the chapter on increasing mileage,
you would inevitably find them talking about the 10% rule,
and what that is referring to
is that you should never increase your training or volume
by more than 10% per week.
So for instance, if you're currently running 30 minutes
at a steady aerobic pace,
the following week you'd run 33 minutes,
and then the third week 36 to 37 minutes,
and then after a month of running
you should be up to running around 40 to 45 minutes.
And that is actually just a good rule of thumb
across all the sports, swimming, cycling, running,
and even exercises that you're doing in the gym.
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Okay, but now let's move on to another really key area
and that is your flexibility and your mobility.
So here are a few really important stretches
that you should really keep on top of.
Now the first one is a kneeling hip flexor and quad stretch,
and this is actually one of my all-time faves
because not only does it hit a couple
of really big key areas at once,
it's also just easy to do in front of the TV.
Now personally, this is actually a bit
of a nemesis area for myself
because I know that if I don't keep on top of this,
I do start to experience a bit
of discomfort and mild pain within my knee.
But actually, by doing this stretch,
pretty much instantly I relieve the pressure
in my knee and the joint.
So get into a knee length lunge position
with one knee on the floor
and the other leg bent 90 degrees in front of you.
This is your starting position.
Squeezing your glutes,
shift your body weight slightly forward
while maintaining an upright torso.
Reach around to grab your foot with your hand
and increase the stretch.
Hold this for 20 to 30 seconds.
Obviously, if your knee is sore,
then make sure it is well cushioned,
or you can always stand up
and put your knee of the sofa behind you.
Now for a quick and easy one and this is the glute stretch.
Now the glute is actually the largest muscle
in the human body,
so by improving the flexibility in this muscle,
we will undoubtedly help to easy any knee pain
by preventing any overuse
or even by improving on any limited movement
that might be the cause.
Now lie face up on the floor with your knees and hips bent.
Place your right ankle across your left thigh.
Grab your left thigh with both hands
and pull it gently towards your chest.
Hold for 20 to 30 seconds and then switch legs.
Now when your calves are tight,
this can actually force your knees to move in or out.
It tends to be an inwards movement.
But this can cause pain.
And this is actually another area
that I really have to keep on top of.
Now stand on the edge of a curb
or step and place your left foot on the ground,
keeping the ball of your right foot on the step.
Allow your right heel to drop below the step
and hold here for 20 to 30 seconds and then switch sides.
Additionally, I would really suggest
the use of a foam roller.
And personally, I would be in a lot of trouble
without one of these
because it is incredibly common for the ITP
to get tight on a lot of athletes,
and that can lead to pain or discomfort in the knee,
and the best way to loosen that off
is by using the foam roller.
So lie on your right side
and place the foam roller just below your right hip.
Cross your left leg over
and place it on the ground in front of you.
Keep your right hand or forearm
on the ground to stabilize yourself,
and then using that left leg,
you can push yourself down the foam roller,
stopping just above your right knee.
And then, repeat the same motion
but back up towards your hip.
Do this as many times as you feel necessary
and then switch over and repeat on the other leg.
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Now another really important area that we need to address
is your strength and your stability.
Because after all, when we're running,
we're essentially hopping from one leg to the other,
so it's really important that we're solid
and we're stable on one leg at a time.
So a really good exercise for this is the single leg squat.
Now this is fantastic because it not only helps
to improve the strength in both the glutes
but also it activates the quads
and basically all the muscles in the lower limb.
So when you are performing this,
the idea isn't just to go for the deepest squat possible.
You actually want to execute the squat really well
and make sure that everything's really well aligned.
So hips are level and the knee tracks nicely over the foot.
Stand with both feet pointing forwards, hip width apart.
Lift your left foot off the ground
and balance on your right foot.
Now bend your right leg and slowly lower yourself,
making sure your knee doesn't go
past your foot or lean forwards.
Push back up slowly to your starting position.
Start of with three sets of five reps per leg,
and overtime this can be increased
or even performed on an unstable ground like a BOSU ball.
And now for some side leg lifts but with a slight variation
because this example is also gonna focus
on some core and trunk stability and strengthening.
So on your side, support yourself on your elbow
and your knee closest to the ground
by bending your leg behind you.
Make sure your hips are level
and legs are stacked on top of each other.
Then with a straight top leg,
raise it off the floor to a comfortable height
without moving the rest of yourself.
Then, slowly drop that leg back down.
Start off with three sets of five reps per leg.
And the final one is the clam shell,
and this will really help to activate, strengthen,
and stabilize around the hip region.
And this will ultimately help
to prevent the knees from being unstable
or, in fact, over working to compensate.
So lie on your right side
with your knees bent on top of each other
and your right arm under your head to support it.
Keeping your feet together, open the clam shell
by lifting your top knee up.
You should make sure that your pelvis and core remain stable
and then slowly close the clam shell.
Repeat 15 times and switch sides.
Well there we go, there are some tips to hopefully
avoid runner's knee for yourself.
But if you are someone
that has experienced runner's knee before
and you perhaps have some really good advice
that you'd like to share,
then please do drop them in the comment section below.
I'm sure everyone would love to learn
from your experience and your advice.
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