The Runner’s Dilemma: Managing and Preventing Knee Injuries

The Runner’s Dilemma: Managing and Preventing Knee Injuries

The Runner’s Dilemma: Managing and Preventing Knee Injuries
The Runner’s Dilemma: Managing and Preventing Knee Injuries

The Runner’s Dilemma: Managing and Preventing Knee Injuries

Running is one of the most popular sports in the world, with over 50 million participants in the United States alone. Many runners live for the time they spend hitting the pavement. With that being said, due to the high-impact nature of the sport, injuries are quite common. Here are some ways you can prevent and manage knee injuries.

Strength training: Incorporating a strength training program can drastically reduce your risk of injury. Strengthening the muscles that surround the knee will provide better stability for your joints and reduce impact.

Prioritize rest days: Knee injuries are much more common in those who overtrain and don’t take rest days. Rest days are needed for recovery, and without them, you’re subjecting yourself to various injuries. Rest days give your muscles time to repair and rebuild.

Eat healthy: Never underestimate the power of what you put in your body. Runners should focus on a diet that is nutrient-dense and full of protein. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds are all great options that provide you with adequate nutrition. Choose protein such as lean meats, eggs, fish and seafood, tofu, greek yogurt, and quality protein supplements. Drink plenty of water and avoid too much caffeine and alcohol which can lead to dehydration.

Wear quality footwear: Not only should your shoes be high quality, but they need to be a shoe that specifically meets your unique needs. Purchase your shoes from a running shop so that an analyst can fit you with the proper shoes for you. Shoes that are made well will usually last up to 500 miles but consider replacing them sooner if you are experiencing pain or discomfort.

Warm-up and cool-down: Always warm your muscles up before you run. Incorporate a 5-10 minute warm-up that includes some dynamic stretching. Warming up gets your blood flowing and your muscles warm so you can prevent injuries. Cool down after you finish your run. Gradually slow your pace down for 5-10 minutes. Take some time to incorporate some static stretching as you wind down.

Improve your technique: The saying in the running community is, “It’s not running that causes knee injuries….. It's running with bad form.” There’s something to be said about running with proper form. Runners should always try to maintain or improve their form. Focus on shorter steps as opposed to overstriding, which puts more stress on the knees. Run softer, keep your back straight, gaze straight ahead, and relax your shoulders.

Gradually increase your distance/mileage: Make sure you have a plan regarding your distance and pace, and stick to it. Many runners try to increase their distance and speed too quickly making themselves more susceptible to injury. You may feel like you can go longer in the moment but don’t overdo it. Experts recommend increasing no more than 10% per week.

You may take all the precautions above to prevent a knee injury from occurring, but they can still happen. Follow these steps if you happen to suffer from a knee injury.

RICE: (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) The rice method is a tried and true method and is the best thing to start with if you get injured. Take a few days off and see if you get any relief. Ice intermittently throughout the day for approximately 20 minutes. Apply compression and elevate your leg to help alleviate swelling.

OTC pain medications: Take some over-the-counter pain medications to help ease pain and swelling.

If you have tried to rest and take over-the-counter medications to help relieve your symptoms but they persist, make an appointment with an orthopedic specialist. Dr. Ramesh Chandra has extensive experience in the field of sports medicine and would love to help you get back to the sport you love. Call and make an appointment today!

Dr. Ramesh Chandra has been practicing orthopaedic surgery in the Washington DC Metropolitan area since 1984. The Center for Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine is easily accessed from anywhere in the Washington DC metropolitan area, with offices located in Falls Church, Reston/Herndon, and Tysons Corner.


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