The Impact of Running on the Knees

sport, running, fitness, massage, adelaide

Jon running the City to Bay in Adelaide.

Few people realize how important the knee joint is until something goes wrong with it. The knee is considered one of the most complex joints in the body, and is responsible not only for bending and rotation, but also for supporting our weight and providing stability when we are upright.

There are plenty of ways that the knee can be injured, owing both to its complexity and to the use it undergoes every day. However with the right massage therapist these issues can be minimized.

There is still a debate going on among medical and sports professionals as to whether running actually does cause damage to the knee, but it does seem inescapable that some damage to the joint can occur, especially if some precautions are not observed.

Hard, repetitive impacts on the knee can also contribute to the development of osteoarthritis or make an already existing problem even worse. So ask your remedial massage therapist what you can do to reduce these problems.

How Running Can Damage the Knees

Your knee is one of the most complex joints in your body and must respond not only to impact when you run, but also to twisting and pivoting.

When you run, 4 times your body weight hits your knee every time your foot makes contact with the ground. Besides the joint itself, the knee also consists of ligaments, cartilage, tendons, and muscles, any of which can be torn or hurt during running.

Runner’s Knee is probably the most commonly referred to knee problem and can occur from several reasons associated with running:

  • The kneecap, patella, begins to grind against the thigh bone; Patellofemural Pain Syndrome (PFPS).
  • Flat feet can cause pain in the knee. In addition, if you suffer from overpronation (your arches flatten out when your foot impacts the ground) this can cause knee pain.
  • Torn muscles can result in the bones of the knee joint losing their proper alignment.
  • The tendons helping to hold the knee joint in the proper position can become stretched, allowing the joint to shift.
  • Tight, knotted muscles in the thigh (Iliotibial Band Syndrome or ITBS) can pull the knee out of alignment.

Dealing with Runner’s Knee

Runner’s Knee can pull the plug on your favorite outdoor activity, but there are ways to help make sure that you are able to get back to it as quickly as possible.

  • Rest the knee. Pain is there to let you know that something is wrong, and this is not something you will be able to work through by continuing running; you might do even worse damage. Allow the joint and its attendant structures to heal with rest. Use ice packs and medication like aspirin or ibuprofen to help reduce inflammation.
  • Elastic bandages, wrapped around the knee, can help to provide support and warmth to speed healing.
  • Once the pain has gone, learn to pace yourself. If you can run for 15 minutes without pain, but anything longer is uncomfortable, then keep your runs short. You will probably be able to lengthen the runs once healing is complete.
  • Don’t add more than 10% of the ‘mileage’ to the run per week. Pushing yourself to return to runs that go for miles will probably result in more injury and pain.
  • Make sure not only that you are wearing the proper footgear, but that it has not become worn. New shoes should be purchased as soon as wear is noticeable – worn shoes will not provide the support your foot, and knee, requires.

Can Massage Therapy Help?

Massage therapy can be very effective at dealing with both PFPS and with ITBS. Your massage therapist can use remedial sports massage techniques to provide relief from both of these conditions. Helping to release the tension and knotting in the thigh that will pull the knee out of alignment and/or massaging the soft tissue surrounding the patella can help to reduce and eliminate the pain of Runner’s Knee.

Regular massage treatments can also help to prevent this problem from recurring in the future. And if you can afford it getting a home/mobile visit will be that extra bit beneficial due to being able to relax straight after your treatment which may include a nice relaxing Epsom salt bath with some essential oils.