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Warm Up: The Need Of The Hour To Prevent Runners Knee

We discuss why you must warm up before working out. We also list the best warm-up exercises to avoid the runner's knee.

Warm Up: The Need Of The Hour To Prevent Runners Knee

Warm up exercises help release tension from muscles and increase flexibility which reduce risk of injury

With plenty of apps to help you keep up the pace, running's convenience and natural form make it an easy sport to pick up. However, forgetting to stretch can make this exercise inconvenient. According to studies, up to 70% of runners injure themselves from overuse each year and half of these injuries occurring at the knee.

When you first start running or increasing your mileage too quickly, you may experience the dreaded 'runner's knee', commonly known as 'Patellofemoral pain/syndrome', causing inflammation around or under your kneecap as a result of tracking issues with the kneecap that irritate the bony groove it sits in. It's not the same as knee pain caused by IT band issues, but a runner's knee can make it difficult to maintain a consistent routine, not to mention that doing so may aggravate the inflammation and pain.

What exactly causes Runner's Knee?

The overuse and engagement in activities that your knees are not conditioned for are the leading causes of a runner's knee. Activities that involve a lot of running, jumping, or changing directions quickly are especially taxing on the knee joint. Basketball, volleyball, skiing, soccer, tennis, and other running-related sports players are especially vulnerable to the runner's knee.

Other factors that contribute to a runner's knee include knee trauma, being overweight, pronation (inefficient foot mechanics), and an insufficient warm-up before exercise.

Although chondromalacia can affect anyone at any age, there are two age groups that are more vulnerable.

  • Over-40s, where general wear and tear of the knee joint occurs as a result of age and degeneration.
  • Rapid growth in teenagers (especially girls) causes structural changes in the legs and knees.

How to Avoid Runner's Knee?

• Regular exercise will keep your thigh muscles strong and limber

• If you have issues that could lead to a runner's knee, use shoe inserts

• Ensure that you wear good running shoes that provide adequate support

• Avoid running on hard surfaces such as concrete

• Maintain a healthy weight

• Warm up before beginning your workout

• Make no abrupt workout changes, such as adding squats or lunges. Slowly incorporate intense moves

• Consult your doctor about seeing a physical therapist

• When working out, consider wearing a knee brace, if your doctor or physical therapist advises you to do so

• Replace your running shoes when they lose their shape or the sole becomes worn or irregular

Stretches and Exercises for Runner's Knee:

To reduce the risk of injury, many health professionals recommend stretching. Warming-up is recommended with a light jog before running to avoid being side-lined by knee pain, allowing the body to adjust to training. Apply the same discipline to your running routine that you do to your workouts.

The exercises stretch out the iliotibial band, which runs down the outside of the thigh and strengthens all of the muscles that support the knee. They can be done as part of your warm-up before a run or as part of your cool-down routine after a run, outside or indoors, whenever it is most convenient for you.

1. 1/2 Kneel Quad Mobilization: This is a quadriceps mobilization that helps relieve runner's knee by feeding slack downstream into your knee joint.

2. Hamstrings stretch: To touch the feet with both hands keeping the knee straight, this relieves pressure on the knee. It's especially helpful for runners, who are prone to tight hamstrings

3. Low Lunge with Reach: Helps in the mobilization of the illiopsoas and rectus femoris, which when tight can aggravate the runner's knee.

4. 90/90 Sit with Reach: This is a gluteus medius and TFL mobilization that can contribute to excess stiffness in the posterior chain, which can cause or contribute to a runner's knee.

5. Ankle Mobilization: aids in mobilizing of the soleus and gastrocnemius muscles, which when tacked down, feed tension up into your knee.

6. Wide-Legged Forward Fold: This is a hamstring deployment, which is a major contributor to the runner's knee when they are not mobilised

(Dr. Raghu Nagaraj, Director- Orthopaedics & Joint Replacement Surgeon, Fortis Hospital, Cunningham Road, Bangalore)

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