How to Prevent Knee Injury When Running
One of the most common issues runners face is in relation to knee injury. Running can burn a lot of calories and help you lose weight and get fit fast, but it is also a high-impact workout that can be really hard on the knees unless you take steps to stay safe.
First of it, it is not entirely the fault of running. Many people have very slight anatomical irregularities that they may never know about until they start a running program.
In addition, nearly 70% of Americans are overweight or obese. Any extra weight is always hard on the knees. Running when overweight will be hardest of all if they do not start slowly, safely, and observe proper technique.
First, be sure to warm up and cool down with some gentle stretching.
Running form from head to toe is important, but not always paid attention to. Starting from the bottom and working our way up, the heel should not be pounding the pavement. Your feet, starting from the ball, should lightly skim the surface. Don’t stretch out your legs too far to overstride, or not stretch them enough and understride, because both can jolt your knees.
As you run, your feet should be under you, with your legs swinging to the back, not out in front of you like an ostrich running. The backward movement will propel you forward. Your feet landing in front of you will give you a bumpy ride, like slamming on the brakes with every step, which can really damage the knees in only a few short runs.
Do not pick up your knees towards your chest either. This is just a myth that some runners believe will help them reach for a longer stride. Instead, it will mean your heel coming down hard in front of you, leading to knee and hip pain and a lot of impact with little result.
Keep your knees swinging low and freely, in a knees down, heels up motion that is easy.
Use your arms to propel you forward as well. They should be relaxed, not tense, with your hands in loose fists at a comfortable level with your chest, not bunched up tightly. Head, neck, chest and shoulders should be up and back, not hunched forward. Your hips should be squarely under your shoulders, not in front or behind.
Feet should be pointed in the direction you are running at all times, not spreading out to the sides.
Think of a graceful gazelle as you run, and you should be able to protect your knees as you get a good workout.