There’s no denying that running can be hard on the knees, but some myths do prevail about how it damages your knees. Just to be clear, running is perfectly safe for your knees, unless you already have an existing condition or injury that is exacerbated by your runs.
For those who are starting out or may have amped up their mileage considerably, knees prove to be the most commonly injured joints in the body. Even everyday wear and tear can end up hurting your mobility. The following knee workouts for runners aim to keep your joints from stiffening and help ward off several common injuries.
You can do this at home or at a park as long as you find a clean wall to use for it. It’s a multi-dimensional knee exercise which not only targets the knees, but improves strength and flexibility of your hamstrings, quadriceps, gluteal muscles, and abdominal muscles. Consider this to be a lower-intensity alternative to squats and lunges. Touch your upper back and butt to the wall and sit on an air chair for about 10-15 seconds, before coming back up. A few reps of 20-second wall sits a few times a week is plenty for most runners.
Like wall sits, lunges also target your glutes, quads, inner thighs and the gluteal end of your hamstrings. But they add increased shock absorption capacity to your knees. An additional benefit here is that it requires you to balance on one leg during the transition phase when you switch legs, just like in running. As a result, it helps strengthen and stabilize your knees as you balance on the foot in contact with the floor. Stretch out with one leg, in front of the other and bend the leg behind, before lifting it and planting it in front of the first leg. Continue this for 5 paces.
This routine comes with several benefits: It improves your sense of balance and coordination, along with your posture – both of which are crucial for good running form. Deadlifts also work on your gluteal muscles and improve the strength and flexibility of your hamstrings. Additionally, you further improve your knee strength as you maintain your balance on one leg throughout the entire movement.
Weak knees inevitably lead to common injuries such as the dreaded Runner’s Knee, IT-Band Syndrome, ankle sprains and more. The good news is that knee exercises strengthen the muscles surrounding the knee joints — Quadriceps (front of thigh), Hamstrings (back of thigh), Abductor (outside thigh), and Adductor (inside thigh)—will help make your knees stronger and more flexible, and you won’t have to run to a doctor any time soon.