By Chris Scarborough
For the Tribune
One of the most common problems among runners and athletes that run a lot as part of their sport is knee pain during or after the running activity. Some hurt at the beginning of an activity, then as they warm-up, the pain is reduced or goes away altogether, at least until the start of the next run.
Other people do not hurt at all while running, but after running they fnd the knee starts hurting worse and worse. Still, others hurt more as they run more, then the pain is gone when they stop.
Obviously there are many types of knee pain problems. However, there are some common solutions that can help solve many types of knee pain. If the knees hurt when or after you run, I don’t want you to think all you have to do is treat the knees. There is nothing wrong with icing the knees, applying heat or doing specific exercises to strengthen the area.
However, these are often temporary pain relievers. They are seldom long-term solutions for the knee pain problem.
The reason the knees often hurt is because they are trying to take over for weak hip muscles.
Recall last week’s article. Running begins with the hips. However, when we look at athletes run (using slow motion running analysis), we can tell that most people use their hips way too little. When the hips are strong, the knees take less stress. When the knees take less stress, they hurt less.
We will begin with the hip flexors. Hip flexion begins the proper running motion. That is the motion that moves the thigh toward the trunk. There are 5 muscles that can perform this motion, but only one of them is really good at it — a muscle called the Psoas Major — a funny name for a powerful muscle.
Recall the hip flexion exercise we introduced in Part One of this series. Hold the position for 30 seconds to 1 minute — until the hip starts burning a little. If you feel burning in the outside of the hip, the wrong hip flexor is working. If you feel the inside — you are better off
Here is a way that you can perform the exercise with precision.
In case you missed last week, stand on one leg and lift the other thigh up toward the chest until knee is at hip height. Turn the thigh inward, the foot will turn outward slightly.
Pull foot up toward the shin and hold 30 to 60 seconds. Remember your test — where do you feel it?
Don’t worry if you still feel the outside. Future articles will address this problem.
Chris Scarborough is a Strength and Speed Specialist in the Birmingham area.