5 Best Exercises To Strengthen Your Knees For Running
Running has gained immense popularity in the past several years. Numerous marathons for the cause might be one of the reasons this physical activity got those who had never before been enthusiastic about doing sports hooked. If you one of those people, you should definitely include so-called runner's knee exercises into your workout routine.
Despite it being one of the most enjoyable, effective, and economical sports out there, running often comes with a price – runner's knee. This condition, also known as patellofemoral pain syndrome, is characterized by a pain in the knee. The ache can range from mild discomfort to severe twinge.
As the matter of fact, this does not concern only runners, rather any athletes who put a significant strain on their knees. And the reasons for the pain can also vary from direct injury or overuse to flat feet or misalignment of the patella.
Oftentimes, though, the reason for the pain is weak muscle groups surrounding and supporting the knees. Therefore we suggest you to include these exercises for sore knees from running into your weekly training.
1. Single Leg Squat
It's one of the best exercises for runner's knee and for injury prevention. It requires no equipment and can easily be done anytime anywhere.
Start by standing on one foot. Keep the weight on the heel of your active foot as you push the free leg backwards while you're squatting on the active one. Make sure the patella of the active leg is aligned with your toes and that the active knee is not drawing inwards. Also, keep the pelvis parallel to the floor so that the hip on the side of the free leg doesn't sink in.
Feel free to use a table top or a wall for stability, holding it on the side of your free leg.
2. Clam Shell
The weakness in your hip muscles, aka gluteus medius, can be a mayor contributor to your pain. To strengthen them, try lying on the side with both your knees bent and slowly lift the top knee without separating the feet. Keep your abdominals tight and your whole core engaged. Hold for two seconds, then slowly bring the knee back.
Repeat the exercise 15-25 times for each side. Try using a resistance band around your knees for greater effect.
3. Glute Bridge
Knee strengthening exercises for runners and other athletes simply must work on those glutes.
Lie on your back with your abdomen pressing the lower back to the floor. Bend your knees and keep them hip wide, feet – flat on the floor. Pushing through your knees, lift your hips up to form a straight line from knees to the chest.
To engage your hips even more, pull the knees apart and hold for two seconds. It's even better if you put a resistance band around your knees to do this part of the exercise. Repeat at least 10 times.
4. Leg Swings
Stand straight holding onto the wall on your right side. Start with a set of alternating forward and backward swings of your left leg and then continue with a set of side swings. Turn around and repeat with your right leg. Keep your core engaged and your legs straight.
This exercise helps with hip flexibility and mobility, which, in turn, helps to eliminate runner's knee pain. If you want to work more on your hip strength, press a light-weight dumbbell in the back of the knee joint of the active leg. But be sure to stretch out afterwards.
5. Bird Dog
This awesome exercise works on your hamstrings, quadriceps and iliotibial band, that are crucial for healthy knee functioning. It also strengthens your abs and your precious back muscles.
Get on all fours, wrists under your shoulders and knees under your hips. You can put a cushion or fold a mat under your knees for more comfort. Move your right leg up and backward while your left arm moves up and forward. Keep them parallel to the floor and hold them straight for a few seconds. Slowly bring them down and repeat for 5-10 repetitions on each side. The slower you do it, the better for your balance.
Runner's Knee Exercises To Avoid
If you already feel substantial pain in your knees, you shouldn't run for a while. If it's only a slight discomfort that you feel, opt for shorter distances or, better yet, bicycling and brisk walking. Don't run before warming up first and stretching out after.
Avoid downhill routes and jogging on hard surfaces. If your old runner's shoes are misshapen and worn out, buy new ones. Shoes are the only equipment you need for your training, so don't be cheap and find high quality ones. You can aid your training with knee braces and orthopedic insoles.