Running is becoming a trend in New Zealand thanks to some of the most breath-taking running trails in the world and how easy it is to pick up and start. Unfortunately, some beginners (and some veterans, even) do overdo it at times. This leads to various aches and pains in the knee since the knee absorbs a lot of the stress and impact that running has on the lower extremities, especially when running downhill.
More often than not, avid runners will seek physiotherapy in Newmarket to help alleviate their knee pain. These physiotherapy sessions often involve healing the knee and restoring its range of motion. However, studies have shown that knee pain in runners may actually be caused by a lack of ankle mobility.
As you run downhill, the force of your movements carry the body forward, but the foot remains firmly on the ground. This is known as dorsiflexion. Despite this, the ankles are designed to move in a way that allows the stress of this movement to be distributed throughout the legs equally. If the ankles lack the proper mobility, however, the stress is not distributed evenly, with most of it ending up in the knees. This is what causes knee pain.
Fortunately, there are many ways to help maintain the mobility of your ankles after you’ve completed your round of physiotherapy for your knee pain. Some of these steps include:
The ankles are designed to move in three dimensions: front-to-back, side-to-side, and circular rotation. As you stretch and warm up before going on a run, you’ll want to make sure you cover all three movements in your stretching routine. That said, try adding this simple exercise for knee pain and improving ankle mobility:
Start by getting on one knee and driving your knee forward and back. You should feel this movement stretching out your shin, ankle, and heel. After this, you want to repeat the process, except you’ll be moving diagonally towards your right. Next, you’ll want to do this towards your left. Aim to do at least 10-15 sets to warm up your ankles.
Of course, you’re free to continue doing other stretches to help warm up your ankles alongside the stretch mentioned above. Other stretches that are good for your ankles include ankle circles and calf raises.
Ice Your Legs after a Long Run
Ice has long been used to treat various aches and pains in the body. Soak your lower limbs in an ice bath for a few minutes when you get home from a long run. The cold will help decrease any pain you may be experiencing and prevent swelling in the feet and lower legs. Swelling in the ankles is one of the most common reasons why many runners have trouble maintaining the right amount of mobility in their ankles.
Get Enough Rest In-Between Running Sessions
Lastly, you need to make sure that you give your body enough time to rest. This is because you want your body to enter and complete its state of hyper-recovery, the process that the body undergoes to heal and strengthen muscles and ligaments. Hitting the running trail too soon means that you’re forcing muscles that have not yet healed back into action. This easily increases the risk of injury. Make sure you add a day of rest in-between running sessions.