Our knees are arguably one of the most important joints in our body. They allow us to bend and jump and make it possible for us to get from one destination to another. Our knees become extremely vulnerable when we run so it’s important not to ignore any warning signs from our body. When our body sends pain, it means something is wrong and we must pay attention.
If you experience any kind of strain, ache, or sharp sensation in the knee, be proactive in trying to repair it. The sooner you tend to any injury, the sooner it can heal and prevent further damage that could last a lifetime. Help keep your knees healthy and soothe your knee pain with these easy tips after a long run.
If you find yourself having mild discomfort after a run, a dose of ibuprofen could be all you need. NSAIDs like ibuprofen or naproxen are good pain relievers and they’re anti-inflammatory. Inflammation causes pressure that can lead to pain. This is the most basic step we can take to combat basic pain. NSAIDs aid in relief and when coupled with the following tactics are sure to get you back on your feet even faster.
If the pain is fairly intense, the first thing to try is R-I-C-E. This acronym is one used across many athletic professions. It stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Do this several times a week until all pain subsides.
Take a load off. If you feel pain in your knee, have a seat. Try to stay off your legs for as long as possible.
The most important element to icing is to never let the affected area become completely numb. You simply want to make that area colder. Your body’s instinct is to warm the cooled off area back up as quickly as possible and return it to homeostasis. Your body starts to quickly pump fresh blood to the pained area which promotes healing. Keep ice wrapped in a thin cloth and leave for it on for 10 minutes at a time, then off for 10 minutes. Repeat a few times.
Wrap your knee using an elastic bandage. Wrap the elastic firmly but be careful not to make it too tight. If you feel your blood flow cutting off or notice a change in skin color surrounding the bandage, it’s a sign you’ve wrapped it too tight. You want to feel the support of the bandage but it should still be comfortable enough to wear for a few hours at a time.
While resting, go ahead and put up your feet, too! The key to elevating is to get the knee in pain above the heart. This forces the heart to work a little harder and pump fresh blood to the affected area.
Prevention is Key: Warm-Up Exercise
When muscles surrounding your knees are weak, they can cause extra pressure on the knees. One very helpful solution is to use a few warm-up exercises to isolate and strengthen the surrounding muscles before you head out for your run.
Focus on small isolating exercises that ignite your quadriceps muscles. Try lying on your back, keep one leg bent for support and straighten the other. Use the inner quads to lift and lower the leg from about an inch off the floor all the way to up to meet the other knee. Try 15 seconds on each leg for several rounds.
Follow that warm-up with few minutes of wall squats. Keeping your knees directly over your ankles, press your back into a wall to hold you up and have a squat like you’re sitting on an invisible chair. Try to hold this position for a minute at a time.
Always remember to stretch your quads after the run as well. The goal is to keep a balance between strength and length in the muscles in order to support healthy knee joints.