STAMFORD, Conn. -- As the weather warms and more people take to the roads, tracks and trails to run, injuries can follow shortly after. One of the most common injuries for runners is runner’s knee, which is caused by poor neuromuscular control and weakness.
Runners knee is largely preventable; simple pre- and post-workout diligence can eliminate many issues before they ever surface. Before running, make sure to do a light warm-up followed by some stretching. Important muscle groups to focus on include the quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves. "Contracting the opposite muscle group intermittently while stretching improves the ability to stretch the muscle," said Dr. Robert Marx, a sports medicine surgeon at Hospital for Special Surgery. For example, try contracting the quadriceps intermittently while stretching to the hamstrings.
Cross training with strengthening is also very important. Plyometric strength, which involves jumping or explosive movements, is especially beneficial and can also contribute to injury prevention. "Lightweight training twice a week for as little as 10-15 minutes can be very helpful. If you are injury prone, it is wise to mix in other cardio in place of runs a few times a week," said Dr. Marx. "Cycling, elliptical, circuit training in the gym or swimming are good choices."
Icing sore body parts after a run is essential. An ice bath can also prevent post-exercise soreness. Sitting in frigid water for 5-10 minutes, or longer if tolerable, is common among many professional athletes.
Lastly, it's important to stay hydrated for optimal muscle function and health. "Make sure to have a tall glass of water before your run and immediately after," said Dr. Marx. "If taking a long run, make sure to hydrate the day before and avoid the use of alcohol. "
Dr. Robert Marx is a sports medicine surgeon at Hospital for Special Surgery. He specializes in arthroscopic and open procedures for knees and shoulder problems as well as knee and shoulder joint replacement surgery. He practices at both the HSS Outpatient Center in Stamford and the hospital’s main campus in New York.