Correct Your Personal Training Program
Modern exercise is proving more everyday how important it is to train correctly for running activities. Incorrect training programs can lead to large array of problems, including damaged bone structure, imbalanced muscles leading to weak joints, bad posture and spine issues, and can even affect internal organs over time. When natural biomechanics are not to blame, it’s most likely that the quadriceps are not strong enough to keep the patella aligned with the femur.
As mentioned previously, the quadriceps and hamstrings must be equally trained, so that either muscle group does not overcompensate each other, adding extra pressure to the knee joint's function.
Strengthening the inner quadriceps is essential when maintaining the alignment of the patella. The inner quads (pulls knee can towards your body) and outer quads (away from your body) will pull the knee cap in opposite directions. The inner quadriceps tend to get progressively weak if not trained regularly. The outer quads can then compensate too much and pull harder on the patella, shifting it out of center alignment.
Last but not least, it is not all about training your quadriceps and hamstrings. Training all your muscles from the hips down are all equally as important. Every compartment supports each other when coming to knee health.
Tight IT Band
The Illiotibial Band originates from the side of your hip and runs down the side of your leg and beneath the knee cap. Runners who experience a tight IT Band will tend to feel the irritation on and off. The later stages of IT Band Syndrome can also cause a clicking noise in the knee cap, due to further instability of the knee cap. The main function of this fibrous tissue is to strengthen the placement of your glutes, TFL and patella itself, meaning its a primary stabilizer. Avid runners who now how to condition and warm down after a workout, will foam roll on their side (from the hip to the knee) to ensure the band does not become too tight over time.
Click here to read more about foam rolling.
Correct Running Shoes
All sport specific or training needs require the right shoes as a platform. If there is an arched gap between your foot and the terrain where the sole of your itself should land, then most physicians will recommend orthotics to close the gap. If your foot is not fully landed on the floor, the forces impacted will directly affect your knee joint, rather than being absorbed by the muscles that support the patella.
Train Gluteus Maximus & Medius
Activating your Glute Medius can be a lot more tricky and less straight forward then training your Glute Maximus. This particular muscle is important absorption as the foot strikes the ground while running and keeping the pelvis in steady position. It also helps the function of the inner quads and prevents knee adduction as stated before. Many exercises can be done for the glute medius:
- Zig Zag Squats
- Bridges (Using a theraband)
- Plank Steps (Using a theraband on lateral steps)
- Step Ups (Coming in from a lateral position)
- Seated Clam Shells
Consult a personal trainer or kinesiologist at Your House Clinic for more advice.
In any form of training, it's always best to listen to your body. If you sense overload to your joints or its supporting muscles, take a rest day or activate recovery through stretching and foam rolling on all lower extremities. If there are any signs of swelling, inflammation or prolonged pain, practice the RICE method: Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. Also, swimming is another low impact/recovery activity should try. Or, do what I do, on my recovery day I'll usually ride the stationary bike for 30 minutes while listening to faithfully lyrics, followed up by 1 hour of restorative yoga.