Want to prevent running-related knee injuries? Train your glutes!

running-related knee injuries, Knieblessures bij het hardlopen voorkomen

Knee injuries are one of the most common injuries that runners are confronted with. That’s not surprising – if you’re a runner, then you know how impact much your knees have to endure every time you go for a run. However, there is something you can do to prevent running-related knee injuries (aside from getting proper running shoes). You have to train your glutes!

How can training my glutes prevent running-related knee injuries?

Strength training is very important for runners. When you’re strengthening your muscles, you make it easier for yourself to run and with a correct posture. For running, some muscle groups are more important than others. While many people assume that their legs do most of the work, research proves that strengthening your glutes can actually help to prevent running-related knee injuries.

Did you know that tight hips and/or glutes are the main causes of knee pain? This particularly applies to runners, who often suffer from tight glutes due to inadequate warm-ups, not enough stretching, bad running shoes and running on uneven or unstable surfaces. Runners usually have very well-developed quads and hamstrings, but their glutes – especially their glute medius – are weak. The glute medius, however, is the stabilizer of the pelvis. In other words: by training your glutes you stabilize your hips, and therefore reduce the risk of running-related knee injuries.

What is the best way to train my glutes for running?

While compound exercises like squats can definitely help to strengthen glutes, we’d recommend runners to focus on glute isolation exercises. This is because with runners, their quads are usually much better developed than their glutes. So when you do compound exercises, your stronger quads will automatically ‘take over the load’ – resulting in your glutes still not really doing much. By doing glute isolation exercises, where you’re focussing on one specific muscle group, you basically force your glutes to wake up and get to work. And as they get stronger, the chances of getting running-related knee injuries will decrease significantly.

Running recovery: Liberty’s journey

It’s been a while since my last post here on #FITGIRLCODE… Weeks have passed and I finally started to run again. Those of you who read my very first blogpost know that I started my yoga journey because of running. Injury stopped me from getting out there for some time, but now I’m back on track.

My Running journey

I used to run 3 to 4 times a week for a long time. I discovered yoga along the way and wanted to deepen my practice, which resulted in less running and of course more yoga. Yoga not only made me stronger physically, but also mentally. There were days where I would put on my trainers and run a 10K without practising or building up on the distance. Mentally I was strong and determined, so before I knew it I would pass 5K and continue running for a few more K’s. Daily yoga practice also increased my lung capacity which made me capable of running even longer, without getting out of breath.

Sadly after months of intense physical practice and exercise I injured my knee and stopped running. I though a few months of rest would be enough to recover, but that was not the case. After months and months of avoiding running, I decided to get back on track and start again.

running running

Road to recovery

A good friend of mine helped me with some exercises that would make my legs stronger, and ready to rack up those K’s again. Also a few deep tissue massages really helped my muscles to recover. I started all over again. Exercises for strong legs (I use the NTC app), daily stretching and slowly picking up distance. I started with long walks, followed by speed walking and eventually back to running. From 1 to 2K, 2 to 3K, and so on. Listening to my body and stopping whenever I feel like it became too much is what I did. There are many ways to recover, but this is what worked for me. I’m happy to say that I finally have my running back under control and I’m feeling great. I try to run 2 – 3x per week (depending on how much free time I have) and still practice yoga every day. I also foam-roll and do some specific yoga stretches after my run.

Just like yoga, running makes me feel alive and present. It doesn’t matter how far of fast you go. Just go out there and start again. Make sure to check out my next post “Yoga for Runners” for some good stretches.

xoxo

Liberty