Decreasing the Risk of Knee Injury
Whether you are a recreational runner or a full-blown athlete, you need to take precautionary measures to protect your knees. Knee injuries are very common among runners, sports aficionados, and other athletes. But there are some common-sense steps you can take to reduce your risk of suffering from an incapacitating knee injury.
Did you know that roughly 40% of running injuries affect the knee joint? The fact is that people take their knees for granted – that is, until they are faced with a debilitating injury. Even though runners generally recover from knee injuries, the best way by far to take care of your knees while running is to prevent injury in the first place.
What Causes Knee Injuries?
Podiatrists and sports medicine professionals will tell you that there is no set answer to what causes knee injuries. Knee injuries can be caused by biomechanical failures. Or, they can be damaged in an acute, one-time injury. Also, many times knee pain is the result of repetitive movements over a period of time.
As far as running goes, its the dynamic nature of the sport that predisposes runners to knee joint complications. Runners who experience knee pain or injury often find that the causes are exercising too intensely, using improper form, or simply getting off balance. And nothing will kill the gains you have made in your running program faster than a painful knee injury. Just ask a few of the athletes you see walking the track instead of doing what they would rather be doing – running.
Preventing Knee Injury
Whatever the cause of knee pain and injury, there is most likely a preventative measure that can be taken in order to avoid major knee problems. Here are a few things to remember:
- Always warm-up before taking to the track. Your muscles and ligaments need the benefit of gentle movement to adjust from being stationary to being active. Begin your exercise sessions with low-intensity activity and slowly increase intensity.
- Always wear the proper footwear. Shoes need to not only be the appropriate size for your feet, but they also need to be fitted for proper leg alignment. Reputable shoe stores have sales staff that is knowledgeable about the features of different shoes. Go ahead and spend some extra money on some good shoes. The right footwear will save your knees in the long run.
- Always maintain the proper body weight. Extra weight adds stress and strain to the knee joints. Maintaining the proper weight should be the first line of defense in taking care of your knee joints. Shedding extra weight is also one of the easiest ways of keeping your knees in tip-top shape.
- Always include a strength-training component to your workout. Working out with weight is important even for runners. Increasing your leg strength will naturally give more support to your knees and will go a long way towards avoiding serious knee injuries.
- Never over train. Your muscles and joints need time to rest and recover in between strenuous exercise sessions. Do your knees a favor and give them the rest they need.
- Always listen to your body. If your knees hurt, pay attention. Pain is an indication that you need to stop to evaluate the situation. “No pain, no gain” is not a principle that accurately applies to the knee area. Your training sessions should not result in pain or swelling of the knee joint.
- Nothing will sabotage your fitness efforts like a painful injury – especially a knee injury. If you are a runner or an athlete of any kind, you should be prepared to take some precautionary measures to protect your all-important knee joints.