Archive for January 20th, 2009

Because the knees act as hinge and shock absorbers, eventually all runners will suffer from one sort of knee pain. These are most likely avoidable. Here are a few tips:

1) Lose the knee straps or compression sleeves. These will give you some mobility during a flare-up, but should not be relied upon when engaged in running. The support is artificial, and the muscles around the knees aren’t getting stronger.

2) Warm up your leg muscles before you run. Light stretching, knee rotations, and gently rubbing the knees will help prepare the muscles for the work at hand.

3) Strengthen all muscles around the knee. Note that all leg muscles are interconnected, and a weakness in one area requires another to compensate.

4) Lessen the impact on the knees. Run mostly knee forward. If the knee is true vertical, the force of impact is absorbed by the knees instead of the hamstrings. I realize that this requires some training, but the idea is to lessen the impact on the knees as much as possible.

5) Train the knees for endurance. Don’t subject the knees to race mileage that are too far away from training mileage. This is a sure recipe for injury. A conservative estimate is +- 5 miles of race distance in training. Also, use a training ratio of 5:1 (for every mile that you race, you should put in 5 miles of training).

6) Baby your knees. Protect them, and watch how you use them in daily life. Put up your feet as much as you can to take away some pressure.

7) Run differently on hills. There is no reason to dread running up and down hills. To run up a hill you need to lean the body forward and take shorter strides. When going downhill, you reverse it lean the body back and take longer strides. Perceived work effort should be on the uphill, with little or no work effort going downhill. I find the hills more forgiving on knees than the flats, possibly because it forces the runner to lower speed and also rest the knees with the change in running form.

8 ) Concentrate on running economy. The less there is of extra or wasted movement, the more efficient your running form will be. Focus on good running form because ultimately it will be good for the knees.

9) Lose some weight. A runner’s weight adds to the downward force. It affects the joints adversely. If you can’t lose the weight, then you need to run slower.

10) Do some training. Nothing that will make your legs look all muscular, but enough to make your legs strong. Avoid extreme movements or heavy weights.

11) The older you get, more cushioning is required. Don’t kid yourselves about bouncing back like the young kids. If orthotics are not easily available, buy shoes that have a lot of cushioning and stability.

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I watched the inauguration intently.   It was great to hear President Obama talk about the issues that face us, not only within our borders but beyond.  The benediction prayer given by Rev. Lowell was especially heartwarming.

We are all responsible for the future of these United States.  Look beyond ourselves and aim to make our children and children’s children live better lives.  Face up to the struggle in this cold winter of our lives and become better citizens of this great country.

We become a better friend to other nations by the measured use of real power.  Make alliances, help others help themselves.  But we will not make an excuse for our way of life, and we will defend it vigorously.

There is cause for hope.

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