Well, that’s a real pain in the…! Runners can encounter all sorts of knee discomfort, from something simple like overuse stress to a more serious meniscus tear or patellar fracture. By investing a little extra time, you’ll help ward off these frustrating set-backs and keep knees healthy for the long run.
A dynamic perspective
Dynamic stretching requires controlled movement. I liken it to a Vinyasa yoga class, where you’re flowing through the stretch — perfect for increasing range of motion. Because you’re warming up the muscles with slow and steady movement, dynamic stretches are great before a workout. Try these two during your next pre-run warm-up:
- Horse trot:
1. Start standing with your right knee bent 90 degrees.
2. Straighten your right leg out, but DO NOT lock your knee.
3. In a slowed, controlled motion, lower leg to the ground as you step forward.
4. Repeat with left leg for 20 total steps. Repeat 3 – 4 times.
- Kick backs:
1. Start standing and bend your right leg backward. This is NOT a forceful butt kick.
2. Lower leg as you take a small step forward. Your foot will fall only a few inches in front of your body.
3. Repeat with left leg and continue taking small steps for 3 – 4 sets of 20 reps.
Nutrients you knee-d
Certain supplements can make a big difference in maintaining a full range of motion through your knees — important for a strong running stride. Because glucosamine and chondroitin are naturally occurring nutrients in and around our joints, they’re a natural first choice. I’ve certainly noticed relief taking a daily glucosamine supplement during the peak of running season.
That being said, omegas are also proving to be a good influence on joint health. Opt for more omega-3s, though, as too much omega-6 can actually promote pain and inflammation. Fish oil is a potent source of omega-3. Since I’m allergic to fish and shellfish, I get my full and plenty from flax oil, nuts and sunflower seed butter – so much yummier, anyway.
That’s a wrap!
Aside from supplements, kinesiology tape is an effective support system for runners…when used correctly. Follow these steps for wrapping knees:
1. Sit with your knee bent 90 degrees.
2. On clean, shaven legs, apply about a 6-inch strip horizontally across your knee, just below the knee cap.
3. Layer it up with another 6-inch strip over top.
4. Cut about 12 inches, as this next piece is going to be applied vertically down your leg.
5. Start at the right side of your quadriceps and follow your leg down and around the right side of your knee cap. This piece should be long enough that it wraps around the bottom of your knee and overlaps the first piece.
6. Repeat step 5 on the left side of your quad/knee to create a V shape. The two long strips will criss-cross, while overlapping the first strip that runs horizontal. (See pic to the right.)
Got questions? Leave them in the comments below or share your own knee-health tips. Now get to steppin’!
Liz Lotts is a personal -trainer-turned-triathlete who is admittedly addicted to long distances and wants to share her real-life lessons as an endurance athlete. Tweet her @Lottsomiles if you have questions, quirky comments or inspirational quotes to share.