Do you struggle with knee pain from running? This is not uncommon. Runners often develop knee pain when they ramp up their mileage or intensity, or when they switch to a new pair of shoes that does not quite suit their form or stride. If the knee pain lasts more than a week or so, it is a good idea to see a physical therapist. They can prescribe some exercises that will not only stretch and strengthen the knee itself, but also the muscles around it. Strengthening these muscles will take some strain off the knee, which should not only reduce your knee pain, it should also help prevent it from coming back. Here are a few key exercises your PT is likely to recommend.
To perform a leg raise, lay on your back. Lift one leg up so your heel is about 6 inches off the ground. Keep your leg as straight as you can. Hold it to the count of 5, and then lower it back down. Repeat this with the other leg. Do about 5 reps per leg. Eventually, you can work up to holding the leg raise for about 10 seconds each time, rather than 5. This exercise helps strengthen your quads, which attach to your knee. Stronger quads take the pressure off your knee, which helps prevent knee pain.
It might seem strange that weak gluteal muscles, which are located in your buttocks, could lead to sore knees. But if your glutes are weak, you tend to not lift your legs as you should, and the dragging motion can put strain on the knees. A good glute strengthening exercise involves lying on your back with your legs bent at an angle so both of your feet can sit flat on the floor. Lift your belly button towards the ceiling, so your body forms a sort of bridge. Hold this position to the count of 10, then lower yourself back down. Do three reps. Each time, try to hold the glute bridge a little longer. Eventually, you can progress to doing this exercise with one leg at a time.
With just these two exercises, you can strengthen the muscles in which weakness typically leads to knee pain. Do them daily at first, and then taper back as you feel able. If you change shoes or ramp up mileage, ramp up your use of these exercises, too.
For more ideas, reach out to a clinic for physical therapy for knee pain.