Knee Pain affects every runner at some time. We tend to believe it is running that causes it, but the truth is that any activity can cause knee pain – skiers, soccer players and windsurfers all suffer from knee pain. As runners, we tend to notice it more, because we practice our sport pretty much on a daily basis.
I have been fortunate enough to avoid knee pain almost entirely, except for occasions when I have suffered from a knee injury. Towards the end of this post, I’ll reveal what I believe to be my secret, but meanwhile I would like to give you the benefit of a newsletter I received from my physical therapist, Dallas Williams. Here it is in its entirety:
“Dallas, sometimes when I am running sprints or even long distance I feel this overwhelming pain around my knee cap. What is this pain, and do you have any solutions to remedy my pain?”
“Common causes of runner’s knee are pain, overuse, muscle imbalance, and tight hamstrings, but there are several other factors. Initially, rest is a good treatment choice for runner’s knee. Following rest; the RICE principle (rest, ice, compression and elevation), gentle stretching to all the tight muscles around the knee, and a treatment program that incorporates strengthening of the muscles that stabilize the knee joint. Make sure you pay attention to what your body is saying and don’t get back to the track before your body is ready!”
Assuming that you are experiencing the pain as described, Dallas’ recommendations are perfect, but of course, if you have a serious knee injury, such as a meniscus or anterior cruciform ligament tear, more work may be required. Ruling out serious injuries, then, following these recommendations will rehabilitate the knee. The question remains how to avoid the problem in future.
The strengthening exercises help, especially if you continue them for the rest of your running life. The strength training program I use includes knee exercises, but many runners quit doing additional exercises soon after the pain has gone. Strength training and stretching are both essential to running health.
I also believe supplementation can help. Supplements can never compensate for weak muscles or tight hamstrings, but they can help our cartilages remain young and pliant. I attribute my own freedom from knee pain to taking a glucosamine supplement daily. Very occasionally, I will start to feel pain in my knees or other joints, and when that happens I switch to a different formula. You see, the problem with glucosamine is that it takes months to be really effective.
So, if you already have knee pain, here is the protocol I recommend, based on my own experience:
1. Take a fast acting supplement until the pain disappears. This will normally occur within a week or two. If it’s not gone after a month, you might want to seek a medical opinion: more drastic measures may be necessary. The product I use is Fast Acting Joint Formula.
2. Now take a good glucosamine-based supplement daily. Do not quit taking it because your knees aren’t hurting: this is a supplement that will benefit your joints for the rest of your life if you continue to take it. If you can’t tolerate it, or don’t like taking supplements all the time, go back to the previous step every time you have knee problems, but recognize that your running life (and your active life) may be limited due to your joints aging.
1. I have absolutely no medical training and nothing I say should ever be taken as medical advice: only your doctor can provide that. I take no responsibility at all for what might happen to you from following my advice, and you should assume I don’t know what I’m talking about. What works for me and thousands of other runners may not work for you.
2. There is a distinct possibility that I might one day get a small commission if you ever buy enough of the Joint Formula. I have never received one so far, but when I found out that the company I use has an affiliate program, I joined it in case one day someone bought some of their products on my recommendation.
3. There – now you know!