This is Commonly Suffered By Runners



Since summer is coming to a close and school sports are starting up, it can come to a halt by an injury that I see a lot of. It’s commonly suffered by runners, especially ones doing a little too much too quick- those cross country runners and track and field competitors.

See, one of the problems that most runners suffer with, if they aren’t aware of it that is, is something called a ‘muscle imbalance’.

Let Me Explain…

Basically, many runners train the same way, on the same paths, for too many days consecutively and when they do, they get injured! This week’s blog comes from those patients that I see coming into my clinic with complaints of unexplained knee pain.

When they come to see me, it’s important for me to ask questions about their routine and exercise habits.

For one patient, it was easy to spot the problem after she began talking about the hill runs she was doing on a daily basis during cross-country practice. This can ultimately cause the muscles in her thighs to be stronger than the muscles in her hamstrings.

I’ll show you why this can be a problem for the knee. That difference in strength is caused as the thigh muscles are not only used to running uphill but also when coming down the other side, not giving them much chance to rest.

And because of this, what we call a ‘muscle imbalance’ around the knee joint occurs.

Which is not good!

Why? Well, a muscle imbalance in the thigh increases pressure on the knee joint. It happens in a way that is not too dissimilar from that of a door handle being forced down and then being released.

As your knee bends when you run, one muscle in your leg relaxes to allow it to happen. The other, well, work harder to make sure that the movement can happen

If either muscle (hamstring or quad) is stronger than its opposite, then movement at the knee as you run will either be restricted or simply not happen. Just like a door handle might get stuck or jammed if the hinge isn’t working correctly.

Meaning… the surfaces of the knee joint don’t rub together like they are supposed to. Things like cartilage damage, IT Band Syndrome, and other painful conditions such as Patella Tendonitis are more likely to occur- even more as you grow older!

The solution? Simple. Vary not just your training runs, but where you do it too! Yes, this can be difficult if you’re on a sports team, but making suggestions and switching things up a bit can be very helpful. Doing things on the side like swimming, bike riding, yoga, pilates and other exercises that work different muscles allows the others to rest a bit- which is good!

Don’t get me wrong, you don’t need to completely change your routine. Just a few easy changes that could be as simple as changing the route you map out.

Bonus: You could even add a light resistance workout program to develop other muscles such as your core, which doesn’t always get a good workout if you’re running on the road. Tip: Road running is great for stamina, not so much for strength.

If you have any knee or sports injuries right now, be sure to claim a free copy of my special sports injury report, which shows the BEST way to get a quick fix:


Nick Hunter, PT, DPT

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