Reducing Knee Pain From Running Starts in Your Hips

Working from home and sheltering in place have changed the exercise and fitness landscape.  Home gyms popped up in garages and living rooms across the country.  Walking, running, and biking around neighborhoods gained a big boost in popularity also just to leave the house.  With a few posts from Instagram and YouTube, executives and older adults with little exercise experience found themselves going at with passion and fervor.  The common side effects of these new activities are overuse injuries from to hard, to fast, to soon without proper rest.  Some experienced workout peeps also have similar issues for the same definition of insanity:  doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result.

Photo by Nathan Cowley on Pexels.com

Millions of successful executives and professionals enjoy running as their preferred method of exercise.  Running is great, and also has a huge overuse injury rate.  One of my most dedicated personal training clients is also a running fanatic and doesn’t understand the term rest and overuse which is causing her knee pain.  Couple this with the fact she’s a psychologist and sitting long hours daily working with her clients.  Even after encouragement, stern warnings, and threats I give her, she still does not stretch and do her muscular homework.  As a result, she has knee pain and consistent fatigue.

“Runner’s knee”, or the proper name, IT-Band Syndrome, is a common overuse injury among runners due to gait issues.  Pain is felt along the outside of the knee even though the cause originates along the side of the top part of the hip, the iliotibial band (IT-band).  IT-band syndrome is the result of inflammation and irritation of the distal portion of the iliotibial tendon as it rubs against the lateral femoral condyle as well as the compression of the fat pad, or less commonly, the greater trochanter of the hip, causing a greater trochanteric bursitis (Fairclough et al., 2006). In common language what the National Academy of Sports Medicine says is weak outside glutes cause the muscles along your outer thighs to takeover and compensate for them. 

Photo by Edward Jenner on Pexels.com

Weak glutes can result from extended periods of sitting.  The outside glutes, glute medius, are responsible for actions such as spreading your legs and taking side steps such as a side lunge or side shuffle.  To much sitting causes the glute medius to weaken, the groin muscles to tighten, and the outer thigh muscles (tensor fascia latae) to do the job of the glute medius.  What you look like is your knees turn in or towards each other in a squatting movement.  For runners, you can see the knees turn inward with each step.  Multiply that out over the steps in a 5K run spread out over months and years, and you feel what is happening in your knees now.

Standing groin stretch

What can be done you ask, because quitting your job or selling your company isn’t an option.  Begin and end each run by including groin and quadriceps stretches in your routine.  Add in side shuffles along the run concentrating on using your outer glutes to pull your legs not just the outer thighs.  On off days, do fire hydrants or any lateral leg movements, again focusing on the glute medius to be the focus of the movement.  The third ingredient and most important for runners, REST!  I know it’s an addiction, find something else to do for exercise.  Stop the insanity as I say.  The body builds on rest days, not work days.  I give you permission to take three days off per week from running and find another active hobby or don’t run period.

Fire hydrant start
Fire hydrant finish

To learn more about preventing injuries, increasing mobility, reducing joint pain, and getting more out of life, please go to my website, mattpeale.com.  I offer group and personal instruction via Zoom weekly sessions to help your tennis, golf, workouts, and lifestyle hobbies.  Download my free report, 3 Tips to Reduce Back Pain Your Doctor Doesn’t Know.  Guaranteed to open your eyes and give you a new direction on staying healthy and active you didn’t know possible!

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