Leave runner's knee on the sidelines with this simple change to your running form
Good news: leaning into aches after running may help fix the pain. Tilting your torso forward when you run can help reduce knee loading, which can in turn reduce knee pain (like runner's knee) and possibly injuries, reports a new study in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.
“When you shift the center mass of your body forward, it reduces the torque at your knee and instead puts the weight into your hips,” explains study author Christopher Powers, Ph.D., co-director of the Musculoskeletal Biomechanics Research Laboratory at the University of Southern California. Think about squatting: When you lower with your torso straight up, you feel the burn in your quads. If you lean forward and squat, you feel it in your hips. Same goes for running, he explains.
A lot of runners experience chronic pain, especially in their knees, both on and off the track. (Temper the torture throughout the day with this Simple Trick to Prevent Knee Pain.) The en vogue way to treat runner’s knee is to focus on not landing on the heel of your foot, but instead on your forefoot or midfoot.
And while running with this strike pattern does reduce the knee loading, it also put excessive pressure on the ankle, Powers explains. This can lead to ankle injuries like achilles tendinitis that can sideline you just as bad as a busted knee. “Leaning forward when you run helps take the pressure off the knee, and, by putting it in the hips, also helps take it off your ankle,” he adds.
The fix is simple: Flex more at the hip, allowing your torso to come forward seven to 10 degrees. “It’s very minimal, and you don’t want to overdo it and lean too far forward,” Powers explains. (Score more Knee Pain and Running Tips with Guest Blogger Marisa D'Adamo.) Unfortunately, unless you’re video taping your runs, this means you’ll probably need someone to watch you—ideally a physical therapist or running coach.
Even just one session, though, would be incredibly beneficial, so the expert can analyze your form and highlight any major problems, Powers says. “It might take you a while to fix it, but a professional can at least tell you what is wrong and help you avoid knee pain and injury,” he adds.