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Knee Pain Runner Beware - Get Rid Of It With One Stretch!

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Author: By Alex Poole

How the Knee Works: 

 

The knee is the largest joint in the body. A healthy knee moves easily, allowing you to walk, turn, and squat without pain. A complex network of bones, cartilage, ligaments, muscles, and tendons work together to make a knee flexible. See this on Windows Media format video (link will start your Windows Media Player)

 

Your knee joint is made up of three bones. Your thigh bone (femur) sits on top of your shin bone (tibia). When you bend or straighten your knee, the rounded end of your thigh bone rolls and glides across the

relatively flat upper surface of your shin bone. The third bone is often

called the kneecap (patella), which is attached to the muscles that

allow you to straighten your knee. Your kneecap provides leverage that

reduces strain on these muscles.

 

Did You Know Women's Knees Are Different from Men's?
See this Special Option for Women. Ligaments (another type of soft tissue) lie along the sides and back of
the knee, holding the bones of the knee joint in place.

 

These ligaments work with the muscles that control the bones, and the tendons that connect the muscles to the bones, so you can bend and straighten your knee. Fluid-filled sacs (bursae) cushion the area where skin or tendons glide across bone. The knee also has a lining (synovium) that secretes a clear liquid called synovial fluid. This fluid lubricates the joint, further reducing friction and making movement easier.

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Runner Beware Of Knee Pain - Get Rid Of It With One Stretch! By Alex Poole

 

Running is one of the most popular and easiest sports to participate in.  All you need is a pair (of decent) running shoes a t-shirt and a pair of shorts and you're ready to go.  However, it's not that easy all the time and many runners complain of being injured during either competition or training.

 

The source of the injuries can be wide and varied but we will look at one area in particular. Hands up if you run and have suffered from knee pain at some time or another!! Don't worry you are not on your own as I alluded to above, many people who are runners struggle with injury's that stop them running or competing at some point.

 

What that means is that you are not able to do what you love or need to do (especially if you're training for an event)! Most people tell themselves they're just being 'wimps' and run through it.  Fortunately (for them) some people stay injury free for quite a while.  This all changes when years of compensation and altered mechanics leads to a breakdown...at some point!! Hip extension is essential for good running mechanics.

 

If you are not sure what hip extension is then stand up, with your feet together.  Lift one foot off the floor and with a straight (or bent) knee push that foot back so that your thigh moves backwards...that's hip extension. If you don't have enough hip extension then you'll have to compensate for it some where else in the body (usually the low back, but that's for another day). If you are lacking hip extension then you end up overworking your muscles around the knee.

 

When you start to overuse any muscles you put the body in a position where it changes the balance.  Joints need balance between the muscles in order to make sure that they stay in the right alignment and no undue 'stresses' are placed into the joint. I work in a busy sports injuries clinic and I would have to say that the physiotherapists I work with tell me that in 90% of cases knee pain, that people report, has nothing to do with any degenerative problems around the ligaments, tendons or cartilage.

 

Most of these 'presenting' knee pain patients are actually people who have massively got their muscle balance out of kilter.

So what can you do about it? As well as a complete corrective exercise plan, one of the first things we work on is hip range of motion.

I know, you hate stretching!! That's because human beings tend to gravitate towards the things they like doing most and avoid the things they like doing least. If you don't stretch it's probably because you find stretching hard and painful.  The tighter you and more painful you find it the more essential it is for you to do.

 

So the key is to put the muscles like the quadriceps and hip flexors in a position that will maximally get them to stretch and relax.

This is my absolute favorite hip flexor stretch and an essential for all runners to do. I've put it on you tube so that you can see it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H5uz3DE-FEc

 

Just in case you can't get on there, here's a brief description:

1. Place your foot on a bench or a Swiss ball so that your laces are in contact with the surface, and the knee of that leg is on the floor (your leg will have a V angle).

 

2. The other leg should be in front of you with the foot on the floor so that you are in a lunge like position.

 

3. Keep the back straight and the buttock on the same side (leg that is being stretched) clenched.

 

4. You should feel a stretch stating at the knee and moving all the way up to the front of the hip or anywhere in between, it depends where you lack the flexibility.

 

5. Make sure that you are 'tipping' the pelvis (tuck your bum under your body) so that you are stretching the thigh and not compensating for the movement in your low back.  You will know you are doing this if you have a big low back curve.

 

6. The low back should be relatively flat or slightly rounded.

 

7. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds.

 

One of my clients called Rachel was suffering with some really bad knee pain.  She was referred to me by a sports physician because she was suffering from patellar tendinitis. One of the first things I got her to do was this exact stretch.  She now does this on a daily basis; in fact she should be doing it at least twice a day.  That's because she works all day sat at a desk.

 

This means that not only have her muscles adapted to the lack of flexibility at her hip, but she gets the double whammy of making them tight and short all day long at work. You don't need to do this stretch for hours on end simply complete it a couple of times a day to really get the muscles up the front of the leg relaxed and lengthened.  You should start to feel some of the pressure and tension in the knee releasing the more you do it.

 

This obviously is not a panacea for knee pain but is definitely one of the easiest and simplest places to start. Alex Poole helps his clients reach their half marathon goals whether that is to complete their first or beat their PB.  Educated at Loughborough University he used physiological research and his strength coaching to develop his successful running programme. [http://www.halfmarathonfitnessblueprint.com/]http://www.halfmarathonfitnessblueprint.com

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