6 Simple Steps to Make Knees Feel Great
The most common knee injury among runners is runner’s knee. Known clinically as chondromalacia patella or patella femoral pain syndrome, it’s inflammation of the cartilage under your kneecap. There are many ways to naturally relieve knee pain, and get your joints moving the way they should. Here are some tips runners should know to help knees feel great:
1. Stretch your inner thighs – The adductor muscles on the inner thighs can tighten over time. This increases the pressure on the inner aspect of the knee. Try this stretch; in standing with your feet apart, keep one foot flat on the floor, then lean away bending the opposite knee. Feel the stretch on the inner thigh, but be gentle! Hold for a good 30 seconds and repeat 3-5 times in a row on both sides.
2. Get your kneecap moving – Freely moving patellas (kneecaps), are a sign of good knee health. In a sitting position with your leg out straight, hold onto your kneecap and gently push it down towards your toes and back up towards your head. This should not hurt! Repeat 10 times each direction and then do side to side. Repeat 2-3 times in the day.
3. Strengthen your hip and quadricep muscles – Do exercises to strengthen the outer hip and your gluteus muscles. The stronger your hips are, the better supported your knees are. In addition, doing knee extension exercises while sitting helps to strengthen the quadriceps muscles, which help to support the knee joints. Talk to your physical therapist about which exercises are right for you.
4. Go walking – Sitting for prolonged periods leads to stiffening and weakening of the whole body, especially the lower legs. Try to get out and consistently walk 20-30 minutes a day. Start with a time that you can tolerate and never push through pain.
5. Ice and heat – Heat helps with circulation flow, and feels great to soothe arthritic knees. A hot soak in the bath can go a long way to soothing aching knees. However, if your knees tend to swell after being on your feet for too long, use an ice pack wrapped in a pillowcase for about 10-15 minutes. This reduces inflammation; be sure to check your skin regularly to make sure it does not get very red.
6. Get a regular physical therapy checkup – Think of your physical therapist as the mechanic for your body. Give your knees and body a regular checkup. We evaluate the movement of your joints and prevent problems before they really begin to develop. Regular visits to your physical therapist can make a difference in the long-term health of your knee joints, and keep you from spending a fortune on more expensive and invasive procedures.