Running is a strenuous physical activity that engages your entire body. Your lower body muscles and joints can take a beating from this high-impact exercise each time your foot strikes the ground. Hip and knee pain is a common trend among runners but it can be managed with stretching, strengthening exercises and modifying the frequency and intensity of your runs.
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Stop the Pain
For immediate relief of sore hips and knees, decrease or stop your running. Seek medical attention if there is swelling or redness associated with soreness, if you experience a severe pain, or if the pain does not stop when you finish running. Hip and knee soreness that begins when you start to train harder may signal that you need to cut back -- and increase training gradually. To relieve sore hips and knees at home, use ice packs or heat packs to reduce swelling and pain. Apply ice during the first two days and use heat afterward. Over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, like acetaminophen and ibuprofen can also help reduce post-run discomfort.
Stretching should be completed both before and after running. Before you hit the track or trail, add dynamic stretches that warm up your muscles and prepare them for running. Try lifting your knees, performing swing kicks and jumping jacks, or jog in place. Save the static stretches for after running to relax and soothe your hips and knees. Move slowly into each stretch until you feel gentle tension and then hold the stretch for 20 to 30 seconds.
The most beneficial exercises to protect your knees during a run are exercises that target your quadriceps and hamstring muscles. Fortunately, working those muscles also benefits your glutes, the muscles that run along your hips. Strengthening the large leg muscles can help improve endurance while reducing your risk for injury and pain. Beneficial exercises include squats, lunges, deadlifts, good mornings, the leg press and leg extensions. Use strength exercises two to three times a week with a 48-hour rest period in between each session.
Add variety to your cardiovascular exercise plan to avoid overusing your muscles from constantly running. Try swimming, walking, cycling, the elliptical trainer and rowing. These exercises will help you to burn calories and improve your cardiovascular health while also reducing the impact on your knees and hips.