Runners Knee : A safe approach to training

Last week I completed a half marathon. It was not as easy as I thought it was going to be and I had some knee troubles around mile 9.

In the Marine Corps, it was not uncommon to run a minimum of 25-30 miles a week.  You could say that we ran to get fit, running was our thing, and knee pain was a common issue among many Marines. Formation Run

Recently, I experienced pain in my knees during my training cycle and wanted to share with you some thoughts on how you can prevent runners knee when training.

Here are a few things you should do if you are experiencing runners knee :

1) Find out when your knee hurts the most, then stop doing that exercise to prevent further harm:  This should be common sense as it relates to pain, but if you are like, you will probably push yourself past the point of no return. I caution you on this approach. If something hurts, stay away from running and see a professional for a quality diagnosis.

2)  Just because your knee hurts, does not mean it is your knee that is necessary the problem: Pain tells you that there might be something else going on in your body.  If you are running long distances, knee pain could result from bad form or an imbalance in surrounding muscles.

3) When in doubt,  work those hips out:  From experience and asking a few of my physical therapist friends, knee pain typically stems from hip dysfunction.  If you suffer from runners knee, do yourself a favor and start working on exercises that keep your hips healthy. Pay attention to the mobility of your hips,  strengthen your glutes, adductors, hamstrings, and work on single leg exercises.

Try these 3 tips to help rid runners knee

Foam Roll 

Foam rolling for approximately 5 minutes before your dynamic warmup is a great way to increase mobility and range of motion in the joints. Start focal with a tennis ball, lacrosse ball, or baseball. Target the bottoms of your feet, calves, and glutes. From there take a roller and roll across your upper back, lats,  IT Band, quads, Hips, adductors, and calves.

Be sure to roll both sides of your body and take your time. I sped up to keep the video short.

Work those obliques

Core stability is a huge component of healthy knees.

In the Marine Corps, we did crunches until our faces were blue, yet painful knees were still present.   Crunches are not what we are looking for!

You can read more about the core here.

Instead of thinking six-pack abs, we need to place emphasis on the external obliques.  Your obliques help control the pelvis and will help keep your knees healthy. More often then not, when we train the core we resort to the typical six-pack muscles and that can present compensation patterns in other areas of the body.

When poor lateral core stability is an issue,  our quads and hip flexors become overactive and dominant.

Instead of relying on crunches for core stability, try incorporating exercises that teach your body to stabilize throughout the hips and fire those obliques.

1/2 kneeling cable lift

Off Bench Oblique Holds 

Incorporate single leg work into your routine

Single leg work is by far the best thing you can do when you are experiencing runners knee.

During my training, I realized that I was weak in my glutes and had some compensation patterns going on.

The average runner who suffers from runners knee typically has tight/weak quadriceps, a loss of flexibility, and weak glute medius muscles.   Setting yourself up in a position that allows for optimal contraction of the glutes and obliques can be a great thing for your body.

Some of the things you can try include hip abduction drills,  split squats, lunges, single leg deadlifts and single leg bridges.


To wrap it all up

In the end, there is a lot more information that can go on here that pertains to runners knee.

  • Foam roll
  • Hammer those hips
  • Incorporate core stability
  • Do single leg exercises

Hopefully, you’ll start to feel better as you run and get rid of runners knee.

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