Ever run with a hurt knee?
If you answered yes than you are among the 60% of runners who develop a runner related injury every year. I’ve been there and there’s nothing worse than an injury that prevents us from running. Runners knee is the most common.
Sure we must rest the injury but it’s essential to work in exercises for a quicker recovery. Personally, I’ve ran and recovered from runners knee simultaneously while training for my next race. The key is to shift your focus to your recovery days and just gradually increase your mileage with caution.
So with that, here are 7 easy exercises to help you get rid of runners knee for good!
Please note: I am not a medical professional and this information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The exercises listed are what I used to help get rid of runners knee in my own life.
Exercise #1: Standing Quad Stretch
Perform this exercise anytime, anywhere. If it’s while playing in the yard with the kids or brushing your teeth at night, grab a foot and pull. To perform this exercise, hold your foot behind you while flexing your foot. The same side hand should be holding the same side foot. For example, hold your right foot with your right hand. Next, make sure your knees press together. From this position push your hips forward. Hold this pose for 30 seconds then switch to the other foot. This is 1 rep, perform 2-3 reps.
Exercise #2: Butterfly
While attempting the butterfly exercise for the first time, think just that – butterfly. To perform the exercise you must first sit up straight. Next, press the soles of your feet together forming a shape of a, you guessed it, butterfly. Now while keeping your back straight, visualize pushing your knees to the floor. You can even use your elbows to push them down further. Hold for 30 seconds and release, for 1 rep. 2-3 reps is sufficient.
Exercise #3: Hip Flexor Stretch
Remember – it’s all in the hips. For this exercise, start off by kneeling on your right leg and take a long step forward with your left leg. As you lower yourself slowly, lean into that left leg feeling your hips open up. Raise back up and switch legs. Stretching both sides is 1 rep, repeat 10 reps. A hip flexor stretch can be done anywhere from the local gym to the bedroom, or even the office floor.
Exercise #4: Wall Squat With A Ball
Before careful with squats when recovering from an injury. Different types of squats help but the wall squat with a ball is the safest from my experience. I would not recommend adding any extra weight, I would recommend just using a ball for assistance. To perform this exercise, first line up your back, shoulders, and head against a wall. Make sure your feet are approximately three feet from the wall and a shoulders width apart. Once you’re in the position it’s important to keep your eyes looking straight ahead. Next, place some kind of ball behind your back. If you don’t have a professional gym ball try that soccer ball that has been sitting in your backyard for years. With your back against the ball and the ball against the wall slowly begin to squat down until reaching a 45-degree angle. Hold this position for 10 seconds and slowly make yourself back up to the starting position. Repeat 10 times. As time passes increase your holding seconds and repetitions to strengthen your knee. Remember, we expand by demand.
Exercise #5: Cross Leg Side Bend Stretch
Do you know why I love this stretch so much? Not only because it’s simple, but you can perform it on your recovery run to prevent reoccurring knee pain. It’s important to stretch your IT Band because all the muscles around the side of your hip and thigh will pull on your knee joint if they become tight. How does one perform this standing IT Band stretch? Easy. First, stand tall and put one leg in front of the other. Whichever leg is back is the same arm that must be raised. For example, if your right leg wraps behind your left leg, then your right arm should be raised in the air. Next, bend to the opposing side of your raised arm. So, if your right arm is raised than bend to your left side. Hold this pose for 20-30 seconds then release. Reposition and stretch the opposing side. During your recovery runs, it’s beneficial to stop every mile or so and perform this stretch. This stretch can make the difference between a successful comeback or back down the road to recovery.
Exercise #6 : Pool Running
Pool running seemed to be a workout I was naturally drawn to during my own experience with knee pain. When I was facing a troublesome time from injury I decided to physically run laps in the pool. I literally ran back and forth hundreds of times until the bottom of my toes ripped apart. I’d recommend wearing water shoes and just going after it. You can play around with the exercises, do side steps, run backward, alternate a run lap with a swim lap…you name it. The pool is an incredibly effective place for recovery and one of the only places you can run while injured.
Exercise #7: Foam Roller
If I could recommend only one type of exercise to get rid of runner’s knee, the foam roller would be the winner. It loosens up the quads and the IT band, helping relieve tension and tightness in the knees surrounding muscles. When they become too tight it can cause a poor running form ultimately creating knee pain. If you are new to the foam roller it will most likely be extremely painful because the tissue is still very tender. But if you stick through the pain, it will eventually feel much better. The pain you feel on the roller today will eventually be the relief you feel tomorrow. For me, rolling at night is eventful. It typically consists of my two sons jumping on top of me for a ride while trying not to run over my eight-pound dog in the process.
Exercise #8: The Recovery Set
Ok, so I made up the name of this exercise. Well, technically it’s more of a mental exercise. It’s about seeing RECOVERY from a different point of view.
You know what they say about music? It’s said that music is not in the notes, but in the silence between the notes. When we recover as runners, we need to shift our focus from our training runs to our recovery days. Don’t focus on runs, focus on the days between the runs. If you want to run while recovering then take the days in between serious. The real power is what we do on the days we are not running, like performing these exercises.
So make small incremental gains when recovering but make them every day. Also, go above and beyond. Instead of only ice for your knee use a cold compression wrap or jump in an ice bath. Or instead of sitting around, go to the gym and workout your upper body. Or try not to focus on the now, keep your mind on a full healthy recovery. Movement, visualization, healthy eating, rest, cold compression, and elevation has gotten me there, it can for you too.
Regular physical activity can help us recover fast. We not only heal more easily, but we get an edge over all kinds of disease and injury. In fact, exercise may be nature’s best medicine. There is magic in movement. Yes, movement is medicine. There is no medication that even comes close to having all of the benefits exercise and an overall healthy lifestyle does.
These 7 easy exercises that help get rid of runner’s knee will do just that, help get rid of the injury. But don’t let any injury bring your down. It’s tough not being able to do the things that we love–trust me, I’ve been there. But with the right recovery plan and the execution of that plan it’s possible to heal quick. It’s possible to not only make a comeback but to come back stronger and gain some well needed time off in the process.
Remember…with the right recovery plan and the execution of that plan it’s possible to heal quick! And don’t forget to check out 10 Incredibly Useful Running Tips For Beginners.
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