Growing Apologist

Becoming a Defender of Truth

The Price of Running

on November 8, 2011

Based on my experience

I was thinking that some people might benefit from my experience with pain in the knees from running.  While in high school, I developed a pretty severe pain in my knees from running.  It was devastating because I thought that I would lose my running scholarship to a junior college.  I didn’t.  The coach took me anyways and told me that all I needed was a bit of strength training.  It was incredible how the pain slowly melted away.  Here is what I learned from him and from the years of learning.  Of course, everyone’s situation is different and a person should always use caution before implementing any new exercise practices and should be self aware enough to realize when it is time to seek medical attention.

Runners Take Your Mark

Eight preventative practices

  1. Strength Training.  So often this is overlooked but it is critical for the legs.  When we run in the forward direction all of the time, our forward muscles become stronger than our side to side muscles which causes an imbalance in our legs.  Leg extension, leg curls, hip abductors, PROPER lunges are among the important exercises.
  2. Lift Slowly.  Those of us training for any sort of distant races beyond 1 mile in length, require our ‘long’ endurance muscles to be in top shape (as opposed to our ‘short’ twitchy muscles for sprinting).  When strength training, lift slowly.  If you think you are, then slow it down even more.  This will strengthen the muscles that we need for the longer runs.
  3. Isolate the Muscles.  Whenever possible, lift or strength train one leg at a time.  Often times, our dominant leg is stronger and will tend to work harder then our weaker leg.  By lifting with one leg at a time, both legs get equal attention.
  4. Proper Fitting Shoes.  Worn out or incorrect style of shoe can cause problems not onlyMy hideous running shoes in the knees but in the hips, shins, calves, ankles, back… There are many different styles of shoes, often times a running shop can help you determine the correct kind.  I work best with a cushioned, light trainer.  Also, some people can put in 300-400 miles on a pair of shoes before having to buy a new pair.  I can only put in 200-250 miles before my knees start to groan, so I replace my shoes more often.
  5. Run on Dirt.  Pavement causes our legs to absorb a lot of pounding because the surface has no give.  Try to incorporate some running on trails or canal banks.
  6. Get Off the Sidewalks.  The white cement is actually harder on your body then the black top of the roads.  Whenever it is safe to do so, try to run on the blacktop instead of the the sidewalks.  Be sure to change the side of the road you run on.  Roads slope off to the gutter and so if you always run with your right side to the gutter, hip problems can develop due to one foot dropping lower than the other.
  7. Incorporate Hill Running.  Yes, hills.  Don’t groan, hills are actually very good for you, with the proper form.  It increases the body’s endurance and efficiency, builds muscles.  However, aHills of Dili person can get themselves into trouble when running downhill due to over striding.  I strongly suggest that everyone goes to Runner’s World website and search for ‘running form for hills’.
  8. Running Form.  Sometimes, our running form can be awkward enough to cause injuries or re-occurring problems.  I suggest getting with a professional if possible.  A person can research running form on a website like Runner’s World and self critique their form, however this should be done with extreme caution because too much tweaking can cause more problems.
Do you have knee problems?  How do you deal with them?
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