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The old cliché of 'you need to walk before you run' in preparation for your New Year’s resolutions

November 11th 2016

It is the festive time of the year where we indulge in too much food and drink and make many New Year’s resolutions to lose weight, to get fit, eat healthy, join a sporting team, get more of a work/life balance etc.

One way many of us living in ‘The Ville’ start shifting those extras few kilos is to attack Castle Hill a few times a week, often with very little preparation. I see many clients with knee pain after doing the hill, especially complaining of pain when running down the hill.

Often the problem is intense pain or irritation of the knee cap due to the cap itself moving outside of it’s normal range at the front of the knee. This is made worse with squatting or running up and down the many stairs on the hill. So why does this happen?

  1. People often lean back which shifts your centre of gravity backwards, putting more pressure on the knee.
  2. The major problem with people exercising on the hill is they are out of condition and want to lose weight, but they are overloading their knees without preparation and therefore doing damage
  3. Poor biomechanics: This is probably the greatest cause. We are all different and all walk/run differently, but if your knee rolls due to poor ankle and hip control you are at greater risk. Poor quad strength will also increase risk as you will fatigue much quicker

So what can you do to avoid ending up on the physio table?

  1. Good footwear is important to give good support and cushioning.
  2. Don’t go straight to exercising the hill, start on the flat and progress.
  3. Keep stride length small. Taking large steps puts more pressure on your knees and makes your quads work even harder to control the pull of gravity. Keep your steps small and under you.
  4. Strengthen the quads/thigh – do single leg squats. This will condition the legs to handle the strain of down hill running.
  5. Run on the balls of your feet. Running down hill, striking midfoot or forefoot will keep you light and prevent you from overstriding and landing hard on your heel which increases pressure through the knee.
  6. Have a video screening by your physio to analyse your technique and look at what areas you need to improve on before starting an exercise program. This will look at lower limb/core strength, as well as flexibility of your hips and lower limbs.

Don’t be embarrassed to bring in your shoes, we have seen and smelt them all. The physio can give advice on if your shoes are appropriate, or if it’s time to progress them to yard shoes and invest in preventing injuries.

So the old cliché “you need to walk before you run” is very important. There are many of us that don’t have great biomechanics or have wear and tear in their knees and should not run down hill in the short or long term to avoid doing permanent damage.

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