“I’m getting old…” that’s what I told myself when my knees started aching after my runs last year. “I mean, what else could it be?” I thought. With the exception of an occasional half marathon, my weekly mileage was consistent and I had been running without any injuries for over 13 years. I couldn’t think of one reason why my knees would suddenly start hurting.
One x-ray, an orthopedic consult and a visit to the physical therapist later, I learned that the cause of my knee pain was not that I was getting old, rather a lack of lateral strength in my hips and thighs.
I thought it was a joke at first. How could any muscle in my legs be weak? I run almost 20 miles and exercise 5-6 days per week. Then the physical therapist performed a quick lateral strength test on me. Not surprisingly, I failed miserably. She was right!
Lateral strength is SO important for knee alignment and stability and runners are especially susceptible to developing knee injuries for this reason. We just don’t do much side-to-side movement and, as a result, lose strength in certain lateral muscles in the glutes, hips and thighs.
Here’s a short video of the strengthening moves I was given to get my knees feeling good again. They’ve made a huge difference and I hope you runners find it useful in your training!
Elle is currently pursuing the Master’s of Public Health in Nutrition at UNC’s Gillings School of Global Public Health in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. She is a soon-to-be Registered Dietitian and Certified Personal Trainer with a passion for food, nutrition, exercise and fashion. You can follow Elle’s chronicles of eating well, exercising often and staying stylish at nutritionella.com.