A Runner’s Guide for Healthy Knees

A contestant at the annual October Twin Cities Marathon described the start of this year’s race over the misty Mississippi as “running into heaven.” There’s no reason why a long run on a crisp autumn day can’t always be a heavenly experience. By building a few precautions into your running routine, you can prevent common running injuries from ruining the fun.

 Plan your course. If you are a new runner, choose a flat, smooth path and avoid steep hills until you have developed strength and stamina.   A common rule for a new runner is to run at a pace where you are still able to carry on a conversation with ease.  Often starting out, it’s helpful to take a walk/run approach.  Walk as you feel the need or find yourself experiencing  fatigue.  Your goal is to increase the amount of run time and decrease the amount of walk time as you build stamina. A good beginners’ goal is to reach 30 minutes of running without walking.  Once you have reached your first running goal of 30 minutes, then focus on adding distance or more time to your run.  Adding no more than 10% more distance per week is a good pace at which to stretch your distance goal.

Diversify your exercise plan. Mixing it up with another activity like swimming, biking, or weight training helps prevent the overuse injuries that can occur when you repeat the same type of exercise over and over again.

Dress for fitness success. Wear lightweight layers that wick moisture away from your skin. Invest in shoes with good support, and replace them when the cushioning, shock absorption and stability start to break down.  A general rule of thumb is to replace your running shoes every 300-400 miles.

Listen to your knees. A little soreness is to be expected, but if you experience consistent pain that doesn’t get better with rest, it’s time to consult an orthopedic professional, preferably someone with expertise in knees.

For more helpful tips, check out our Fitness QUICKGuide for runners.

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