Whether you're new to the world of running, or you're simply looking for ways to ramp up your speed and mileage, it's all too easy to fall victim to strains and injuries such as sprains, runner's knee, and inflammation. After all, when you run, you're placing a great deal of excess stress on the knee joint, which can irritate everything from the knee cap itself, to the ligaments that support your joint.
If you're experiencing an issue of runner's knee already, then your best bet will be to use the RICE method alongside your knee compression sleeves to help reduce the pain. However, if you simply want to avoid aching knees, then it's a good idea to stretch and strengthen your quads, hamstrings, and lower body muscles for future races.
Targeting the Quads
When strengthening your quads, wall-sits are a great solution to avoid aching knees. These exercises can be done almost anywhere, and they're incredibly effective too. To start, stand with your back against a solid surface like a wall, with your feet out ahead of you and hip-distance apart. Use your knees to slide downwards against the wall until your knees are at an angle of around 90 degrees. Your knee joints should be situated over the ankle joints for proper alignment, with your thighs parallel. Hold the pose for sixty seconds, then stand up again.
Hitting the Hamstrings
For those who want to avoid aching knees, it's worth noting that tight hamstrings and weak quads can combine to make a recipe for disaster. Fortunately, you can loosen your hamstrings with a tip-over touch stretch. Just stand with your feet hip-width apart, lacing your hands behind your back. Keep your legs straight and bend at the hips, bringing your hands over your head as you relax the back of your neck. Hold the position for thirty seconds, then slowly roll back up into a standing position.
Caring for Your Calves
Ensuring your calves are stretched and loosened at all times is a great way to avoid aching knees. All you need is a simple calf stretch against a wall to start seeing results. Standing about an arm's distance away from a solid surface like a wall, step forward with your right leg, keeping your left leg back and your feet parallel. Bend your right knee slightly and press through with your left heel, holding the position for thirty seconds before switching legs.
Finally, if you want to avoid aching knees, then you need to remember not to neglect your side muscles. Forgetting lateral muscles can mean that the supports around your knee joint are weakened, and incorporating a few easy exercises into your regular routine can give you the stability and strength you crave. Try doing a few alternating side lunges, by starting with your feet situated under your hips. Step with your left foot wide to the side, coming into a lunge wherein you bend to touch your foot. Push into the foot, then return to standing, before lunging with the other leg.