One Simple Thing: How to protect your knees while running

Where your foot falls while jogging can play a big role in protecting your knees.

Thus, physical therapist Laura Gleason said, changing your gait can protect knees, which bear weight while running.

"Prevention is really the most important thing," she said.

Pay attention to where your foot falls; it shouldn’t be landing far in front of your body.

"A lot of people tend to make initial contact with their foot way in front of their body when they run, and that causes a lot of strain up the leg and especially to the front of the knee," she said.

Add a bit of a forward lean into your running gait she said, "as if you’re falling."

"If you think of that forward fall, that can be one of the easiest ways to tweak your gait yourself," said Gleason, who works for the Endurance Rehabilitation Program at Athletico Physical Therapy, in Chicago.

Lean from your ankle, not just bending forward at the hips, she said, "and then you tend not to strike so far in front of you or overstride, as we call it."

Another way is to increase your steps per minute. A quicker cadence can ease strain on the knee, she said.

"If you have a very long, slow stride, that can cause a lot of impact on the knee versus a quicker turnover," she said.

Core and hip strength are also important long-term, she said, to keep stability throughout the body. And proper shoes are key. Athletico offers 30-minute injury screens and gait analysis, filming customers’ runs on a treadmill to see where technique might be breaking down.

Most important, don’t ignore or try to fight through an injury.

"Knee pain is not normal when you’re running," Gleason said. "Addressing the issues early on can be very, very helpful to prevent further injury."



McClatchy-Tribune Information Services