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What are some exercises you can do to avoid knee pain and shin splints and other ailments when starting to train for races?

What are some exercises you can do to avoid knee pain and shin splints and other ailments when starting to train for races?

Fitness Together - Auburn


Knee pain and shin splints are very common problems that flare up when starting a running program or training for a race.  These are usually an indicator of one or a combination of the following: Doing too much too fast, poor running form, improper shoes, or poor overall conditioning.  The following tips will help tremendously.

Practice strength training a couple of time a week, mainly focusing on lower body and core exercises.  Hire a personal trainer even if just for a couple of weeks to teach you the proper form of these exercises; otherwise you may make your condition worse.

  • Perform deep squats (slightly below 90 degrees) to strengthen your overall leg musculature as well as increase hamstring flexibility. 
  • Include some traditional deadlifts to engage your lower back and glutes a bit more and provide overall lower body balance.
  • For core focus perform birddogs, planks, side planks, and side to side movements such as Russian twists.  You may be wondering how working on your core will help you get rid of knee pain.  A weak core will fatigue faster and will contribute to improper running form, such as slouching.  Slouching shifts the way the pounding on the ground is received by your muscles and joints, making your running more inefficient and your body prone to injury.
  • Cross train.  Use an elliptical machine in between running days.  If you have access to a pool, even better.  You can run in the pool to work on your strength and endurance, while sparing your joints from any impact and allow time for healing.

Finally, not all running shoes are created equal.  Go to a running store or some other place where you can have your running gait analyzed and recommend proper running shoes for you.  Your body will thank you later.

 -Vanessa Ocasio


Three things need to be done in order to prevent knee pain in runners.

1.       Correct training from the beginning

2.       Strength Training

3.       Stretching

I would say that most runners encounter knee pain throughout the course of their running career.  Most of this pain however is caused by poor training at the beginning of their career. With simple exercises like resistance band abduction and adduction, wall sits, and body weight squats strengthening of the knee can be accomplished and therefore reduce the risk of injury substantially.

I think another common mistake in the avid runner is that they do little or no resistance training and solely focus on the cardio aspect of running. Runners should use resistance training to increase the endurance and strength of their muscles so that they can be made even more efficient during training.

The final and MAIN thing that I would do to prevent knee pain is stretch stretch stretch. Stretching will keep the muscles around the knee more lax and therefore keep pressure off of the joint. It will also prevent the inflexibility of the runner’s gait which would have the potential to disturb the knee joint as well.

-Kris Dixon