You’re a runner. Whether you’ve loved running since childhood or have taken up running as an adult, you find that running raises your endorphin levels. You feel better after a good run.
Running is excellent for your health. It improves cardiovascular fitness, strengthens muscles, and builds strong bones. If you’re starting to feel twinges of pain in your knees, you may be wondering if running harms them.
Our board-certified orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Michael Shults, is a sports medicine specialist. He’s undergone special training to help you recover quickly from musculoskeletal injuries and help you prevent them in the future.
If you’re a runner and have knee pain, Dr. Shults reviews your medical history and asks you questions about how often you run, how long your route is, and over what terrain. Lack of rest between runs can cause knee injuries. Dr. Shults also examines your gait. Gait problems can cause knee pain.
Just as in other sports, proper running technique is important in helping prevent injuries. Following are some common mistakes you could make when you run that can harm your knees.
Problems with your form when running
Knee pain can result from an improper gait when you run. Following are some common mistakes.
When you run, do you land on the ground with your foot in front of your knee? Proper form when running is landing with your foot under your knee.
You’re not as stable when your foot is out in front of the rest of your body. Your leg is straighter and thus stiffer. Your body can’t absorb the force of your foot hitting the pavement as well as it does when your foot is under your knee when it lands. When your strides are too long, you’re more at risk of shin, knee, and hip injuries.
Landing on your heel
Pay attention to how your feet hit the ground when you run. Are you landing on your heels? Proper running form is landing on the middle of the foot. When you land on the heel, you increase the force placed on your joints and muscles. Knee pain could be a result.
Pay attention to your running gait. Are you dropping one of your hips when you run? If so, your body isn’t properly aligned. When one leg is off the ground, the supporting leg may rotate inward too much, placing too much pressure on your knee. Your hips should be level when you run. This keeps your body in proper alignment.
Running on hard surfaces
Find places to run where you’re on softer surfaces. Asphalt is better than concrete. Grass or wood chips are even better. Treadmills are a good option when the weather isn’t good. It’s no fun having shin splints or painful knees, which can develop when running on hard surfaces.
Aside from your form, are you running so frequently that your body hasn’t had time to rest? Your body is different at 50 than it was at 25. If you love to run, you want to be able to continue to enjoy it rather than sit out with an overuse injury. Pace yourself, and don’t go past your limits. If you want to increase your mileage, do it gradually — not all at once.
Call Coastal Empire Orthopedics or book an appointment online today if you have undiagnosed knee pain.