A lot of people I've talked to who started running all told me one thing that happened as a direct result of running, and that was knee pain.
Patellofemoral pain from excessive pounding on the pavement from running.
Please note that I said 'a lot' and not 'all', there is a significant difference, and running is a very necessary and powerful tool for humans to have in their 'exercise arsenal', but a lot of these knee issues came about because the person running was not very adept at running, or conditioned to do so, as well as going too fast, too soon.
At my other job, if we are doing something, and an emergency bell goes off, we have to get to that destination as quickly as possible, which means I sprint.
So not everybody gets knee pain, but if you do, it's a b**ch.
So, how do we avoid knee pain?
1. First, check your shoes. Do they have gel support? Are they cushioned?
New Balance and ASICS are very good companies to buy high quality running shoes from, and they can be affordable with prices as low as £50 a pair and up to £250 a pair. I'm not endorsing either company, but they are decent. I currently have a pair of blue New Balance that I wear for exercise.
2. Start gentle.
You don't necessarily want to go running like a seasoned runner straight off the bat. Start off slow, maybe a 10 minute walk followed by a 1 minute run, and perform this 5 times over, so that's nearly an hour of walking, followed by 5 minutes of running, or decrease to just 3 times and build up to 5 times.
You could also walk up hills, it's a simple form of exercise, and also places tremendous stress on the posterior chain (glutes, hamstrings and lower back) and quads.
3. Keep Your Feet On The Ground
How can you do cardio if you don't move your feet?
Haha, I don't mean it like that!
Basically, avoid overuse of pounding your feet into the ground. This type of behaviour will cause excessive pressure through the bones and knee joint and is likely to cause knee pain.
Perform activities that reduce how much foot pounding you cause:
1. Prowler Runs
A prowler is a big chunk of metal which has two poles to hold on to. You put extra weight plates on top of the prowler to make it heavier and make it more difficult to push.
The main health benefit of the prowler include:
- Better Cardiovascular health by strengthening the myocardium (heart muscle)
- Reduces knee pain by emphasising the leg muscles and avoiding excess stress directly on the patella.
- Burns tons of calories
It also has the benefit of working additional muscles, such as the glutes (butt muscles), Hamstrings (back of the legs), and quadriceps (front of the legs).
I try to use the prowler as much as possible with all my clients, and they love it!
Another benefit of using the prowler, and I feel this is a huge benefit, is that you can increase or decrease the load, so you can get stronger legs if you use the prowler on a weekly basis, which can also help you tone up your legs since there is a degree of progressive overload in the exercise.
My client Kirsty has been training with me for 2 month, and is pushing a whopping 45kg on the prowler, and she can successfully fit into her old jeans again, whoop whoop!
The final benefit of using the prowler is, as a direct result of putting more weight on the prowler, that you won't end up pounding your feet into the ground 50 gazillion times a day because you need enough ground force with your foot to move the prowler forward, so you reduce any external impact forces on the knee.
Other cardio exercises that I would recommend is the crosstrainer, stationery bike, kettlebell swings, barbell complexes and uphill walking.
If you do the above 3 things, your chances of getting knee pain from exercise are a lot lower than they were before!