Running is a highly coordinated and complex process which requires the involvement of the entire body. Though runners may have their own unique style of running, the key motions involved are common. Stretching exercises prior to running are essential to keep the joint functioning properly, minimize the risk of injuries and ensure that the runner completes the task as per the requirements.
Runner’s knee is a very common condition which can leave the knee weak, unstable and painful. An exercise program which incorporates stretching as well as strengthening exercises will help keep the knee in good shape and also restore proper knee function. Stretching exercises of the knee are very vital since they help improve circulation of blood through the joint as well as the muscles that support the joint.
Runner’s knee develops when the knee cap does not track properly over the knee joint. Consequently, there is increased pressure on the cartilage of the joint and this will eventually result in the deterioration and wearing out of the cartilage, more so, in the inner aspect of the knee cap. The condition may also trigger discomfort and pain especially whilst descending stairs, running downhill or sitting for prolonged intervals of time.
Importantly, running with extra weight puts excessive pressure on the knees, causing the cartilage to wear out quickly; thus, maintaining a healthy body weight is very crucial.
What’s more, you also need to learn the proper technique of running. If you do not follow the proper technique, you will over use certain muscles and under utilize others, thus increasing the risk of an injury.
Knee Strengthening Exercises
Kneeling quadriceps stretch is the most common stretching exercise used by runners. The steps involved in the stretching exercise include kneeling on one foot while holding something to maintain balance and then pushing the hip forward.
A standing high bent knee hamstring stretch is another efficient exercise for the knee. The stretch involves standing on one foot raised onto a bench or a table and then keeping the leg bent lean forward with your chest towards the bent knee.
Stretching Exercises For Runner’s Knee
Stretching enhances blood circulation in the hamstrings and quadriceps which are the most important muscle sets used during running; and also helps overcome rigidity of the muscles.
Hip and Buttock Stretch
- For this stretch, you need to sit on the floor and bend the left leg so that the right foot is near the buttocks. Cross the right leg over the left leg, so you feel a stretch in the right hip and the right side of the buttocks. Hold this stretch for about 30 seconds, repeat 6 times; and switch sides.
Hamstring and Calf Stretch
- Sit on the floor with both legs extended and bend forward from the hips, not the waist and touch your toes. This stretches the hamstrings well. To stretch the calves, hold on to a table and extend the left leg behind you and keep your right leg slightly bent. Hold the calf stretch for 20 seconds and repeat five times. Repeat for the other side.
Iliotibial Band Stretch
- Cross the left leg in front of the right one. Bend over towards the right with your hands together and try to touch the toes. Hold for 20 seconds and repeat five times.