Delete “knee pain” from your running vocabulary
A BIG complaint we get from folks about running is that it’s so hard on their knees. We agree that painful knees are a drag. But, we’d never go so far as to put all the blame on running per se. Whenever someone runs with knee pain, and their friends ask them how it happened, they’re quick to respond, “It happened while I was running.”
Running takes a lot of blame for knee problems when it’s actually the way you run that causes problems. If you can run with minimal impact or stress to your knees, you’ll never have knee problems. It’s as simple as that. And, the good news is that you can absolutely change how you run so that knee problems become a non-issue.
Taking good care of your knees should be a high priority if you want to enjoy running year after year. And, reducing torque and impact are the two best ways to build a “life insurance policy” for your knees. ChiRunning has been keeping knees happy for twenty years.
Running can actually be good for your knees.
For years, running has been categorized as a sport that, if not downright bad for your knees, certainly isn’t good for them.
Here’s the good news! A new study in the European Journal of Applied Physiology says that running may in fact benefit the knee joint, changing the biochemical environment inside the knee in ways that could help keep it working smoothly.
What Causes Knee Problems?
Twenty five percent of all running injuries are knee injuries, making it the highest single cause of injury to runners. Almost all knee injuries are impact injuries. So, if you can reduce impact when running, you’ll reduce your chances of knee injuries. Generally speaking, beginning runners are more likely to have knee injuries than long-time runners, who are more likely to Body Sense knee pain and do something about it before it turns to an injury.
The 3 Main Knee Injuries and Their Causes:
- Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (PFPS) or kneecap pain happens when your kneecap doesn’t track correctly where it meets the head of your femur. This injury is more likely to occur in women because of their larger “Q-angle,” which comes from generally having wider hips than men. The muscles related to PFPS are the abductors and the quadriceps femoris. The quad muscles hold the knee in place as you bend your leg and your abductors keep your knees aligned (being knock-kneed causes a huge amount of stress to misaligned knees when landing).
- Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS) is a type of inflammation that occurs on the lateral side of the knee. It’s the tendon that connects your upper leg muscles to the top of your tibia, allowing you to bend your knee. The IT Band slips over your knee to create a pulley and when that pulley doesn’t track right, the tendon can become irritated and inflamed. Mistracking can be caused from over-pronation (weak ankles or core muscles) and foot splay (weak adductors). Any misalignment in the knee will magnify the potential for an impact injury.
- Medial Meniscus pain can happen in runners who land in a heel strike with a straightened leg (see image above), and can also be caused by splayed feet or over-pronation.
How you land becomes a big deal if you want to avoid knee pain. With every stride you take, you land with an impact force that can range from 3-6 times your body weight. With an average of 1500-2000 strides per mile, that can add up to thousands of pounds of force acting on your knees. If you can even reduce your amount of impact by ONE body weight, it can mean thousands of pounds of shock eliminated each mile!
In a UNC Chapel Hill Running Study, ChiRunning was shown to significantly reduce impact to the knees. Imagine how it would feel to float across the earth — instead of “running yourself into the ground.”