Many runners are prone to runner's knee, a condition in which the knee joint becomes irritated, leading to pain behind the knee cap, swelling, and sometimes even popping noises as you go up and down stairs. Often, this condition arises when runners start to increase their mileage. Thus, if you're suffered from runner's knee in the past, you'll want to take these precautions when building your mileage.
Stick to the 10% rule.
Many runners encounter issues, with runner's knee as well as other injuries, when they add mileage to their training routine too quickly. Experts recommend increased mileage by no more than 10% per week. This means that if you're used to running 30 miles per week, you can run 33 miles the next week, and then 36.3 miles the week after that, and so forth. This slow increase gives your muscles, tendons, and ligaments in your knee time to get used to the increased workload, so you're less likely to experience pain.
Stretch your shins.
Many runners are vigilant about stretching their calves and hamstrings -- but the shins get overlooked. Tight shin muscles can pull on your knee joint, increasing the chances of runner's knee. After each run, stretch your shins by sitting on the floor with your legs stretched straight out in front of you. Have a friend press down on the top of your feet and hold this position for a few seconds. You should feel the stretching through your shins. Repeat the stretch 5 - 10 times.
Ice at the first sign of soreness.
Don't wait until you're limping or in serious pain to ice your knees. If you ice at the first sign of any soreness or stiffness, you will likely be able to stop the development of the injury in its tracks by eliminating swelling while it's still minor. Experts recommend icing a sore knee as soon as you're done running (but never before a run). Hold the ice in place for 20 minutes -- any longer puts you at risk for frostbite. Repeat ice sessions throughout the day, leaving about 45 minutes between sessions.
If you do develop knee pain that you think may be due to runner's knee, be sure to visit a doctor or physical therapist. He or she can prescribe some additional exercises you can do to keep the pain at bay and give you recommendations as to how long to take off from running.
For more information, contact Pottstown Surgical Associates or a similar organization.