how to choose knee braces for running

If it wasn’t for our knees, we couldn’t run at all. They act as all-natural shock absorbers, cushioning the impact your body makes with the ground; they also convert that force into energy and forward propulsion. But it’s precisely this fact that makes them forever vulnerable to injury and wear and tear. Fortunately, however, orthopedic injuries are not an inevitable byproduct of regularly hitting the training track. Read on below to find out how to avoid knee pain, whilst still enjoying your daily run!

First, a primer: The main knee problem afflicting runners is – you guessed it – Runner’s Knee or Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS), an injury caused by overuse of the IB tendon located on the outside of your knee. The iliotibial band, located on the outside of the thigh and which supports the kneecap and surrounding muscles, gets over-stretched and stressed and rubs against the outer femur or thighbone. The major symptom is pain below your kneecap, which becomes more intense as you are running, and gradually over time if you continue to train. The pain itself is thought to be a result of over-stimulation of the pain nerves in your knee. Here’s how to prevent that pain arising in the first place.

1. Improve your technique

Having the correct running technique, and not for example ‘over-striding’ and heel striking – which places undue stress on the knee – is the best way to avoid knee pain and injuries. Overstriding increases the impact delivered to your knees, making them more prone to injury. Become aware of your current running form, either by getting someone to film you, or getting an analysis from a running coach or sports scientist, in order to identify your weak spots, then work on improving your form. For example, consciously train yourself to shorten your stride and land flat on your feet instead of heels-first in front of your knees. Also, try to run upright: stretch yourself to your full height, and run tall! This will engage your core, shift your pelvis into an upright stance, and reduce tension in the IT band.

Sometimes, an improper technique is actually just a result of a lack of coordination in your body. Engaging in off-road running, along fields and through the woods, where the ground is more uneven, improves your body’s coordination, muscle tension and improves your running motor skills. Both of these will likely have deteriorated on account of our sedentary lifestyles, and running only on well paved even surfaces and with cushioned, supported shoes.

2. Avoid overuse injuries by having a varied training program

Advertisement

Don’t just run! Employing a combination of strength, agility and boy coordination exercises will help balance out any muscle imbalances caused by running to the exclusion of everything else. This way you will avoid excessive stress to your knees and avoid overuse injuries.

3. Wear the right shoes and knee protective gear

Choosing running shoes which reduce impact shock can also protect your knees. Although here, the research is actually mixed, with some studies suggesting that wearing shoes with greater cushioning is actually self-defeating as your body unconsciously adjusts its stride to offset the reduced impact anyway.

right running shoesStill, it is clear that there is some relationship between the shoes you wear and the vulnerability of your knees to injury. Choose the set of shoes that are right for you, using subjective comfort levels as your guide. If that set of shoes keeps you injury and pain-free, stick with it; if not, switch to a different shoe.

Similarly, if you experience knee pain or even knee stain, you might want to look into getting any sort of knee protective gear. For more serious conditions, knee braces or supports might be the answer, while for people with milder knee conditions knee sleeves will work just fine. Just makes sure that before you go out buying running knee braces or sleeves, you know how to choose knee braces for running, because this will prevent you from wasting money and getting the wrong type of knee protection.

4. Strengthen the right muscles

Often, weakness in the hip muscles is observed in sufferers of runner’s knee. And when they are weak, the pelvis on the unsupported leg tilts downward and the thigh rotates internally with it as you run; because the lower leg at the same time remains upright, the knee gets pinched and twisted between them. If you are running with knock-knees, train yourself to contract those muscles on the outer of your hips when you run – that way your pelvis stays level and your legs straight and aligned. Begin doing exercises as well that strengthen those muscles.

Often, weakness in the hip muscles is observed in sufferers of runner’s knee. And when they are weak, the pelvis on the unsupported leg tilts downward and the thigh rotates internally with it as you run; because the lower leg at the same time remains upright, the knee gets pinched and twisted between them. If you are running with knock-knees, train yourself to contract those muscles on the outer of your hips when you run – that way your pelvis stays level and your legs straight and aligned. Begin doing exercises as well that strengthen those muscles.

5. Don’t overlook the pain

You then run the risk of injuring yourself even more. Treat the pain as soon as it arises. Avoid running if you can, or try to do running that is pain-free, eg do short distances, and stop as soon as the pain comes on. Try running less frequently: experiment – maybe youneed to have two days rest between runs in order to prevent knee pain from flaring up again when you run. Through rest you allow the knees to heal. Gradually pick up your activity levels toward pre-injury levels – and again, stop, whenever any soreness re-emerges. You may also need to take anti-inflammatory medications to address any inflammation.

knee pain

By following these tips, you can minimize the occurrence and severity of knee pain caused by running, and continue to enjoy your daily trot, for a long time to come. Good luck!

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Disclaimer: JustRunLah! members can maintain personal blogs and post articles such as the present. All messages, articles, and any opinions, advice, statements or other information contained in these posts or transmitted via JustRunLah! channels are the responsibility of the respective authors and not of JustRunLah!, unless JustRunLah! is specifically identified as the author of the message. The fact that a particular message or article is posted on or transmitted using this web site does not mean that JustRunLah! has endorsed that message in any way or verified the accuracy, completeness or usefulness of it. For enquiries please click here to contact us.