3 Cross-training Exercises to Prevent Runner’s Knee
The key to getting through a long-distance race without suffering from knee injuries is to balance out
the muscles in your legs. Trotting at a set pace for an extended period of time does break down your
muscles and strengthen them for a longer run next time, but with consequences.
The problem with running as your only workout is that you’re not working out every muscle evenly.
Running requires the use of every leg muscle unequally.
Certain muscles begin to outperform the others. As this continues, you increase your chance for knee
Knee injuries quickly take you out of your training program and into Dr. McCandless’s office for
corrective work. To avoid the problems associated with knee injury, cross-train on your rest days to
strengthen those other muscles that are missing out.
Sprints Verses Distance
Sprints are an excellent workout to work out your quads. Have you ever noticed how elite sprinters are
If there’s a muscle in the leg, it’s bulging. Whereas the best long distance runners are usually thin and
It’s because these workouts are fundamentally different. Although both exercises are considered
“running,” they work out different muscles.
Sprinters need a lot of muscle in their thighs and calves to propel
forward at higher speeds. Long-distance runners need muscles that
will perform one motion repetitively for twenty-six miles or more.
Sprints can help you build up a support group of muscles to keep
your knees strong during and after your longest adventures. When
you sprint, be sure to avoid the concrete as much as possible.
Concrete is extremely hard and unforgiving. It pounds your joints into submission, causing knee injuries
that Dr. McCandless will have to take care of later.
Sprint on softer surfaces as often as possible to avoid injuring your knees. Look for grassy areas, trails,
and 400 meter tracks to practice on.
Lunges can also help you build your quads without ever having to leave your house. Completing a few
sets of these on your off days will help build that extra muscle to strengthen your knees for those longer
When performed incorrectly, lunges can also be the source of a lot of pain. It’s important to get the
proper technique down to avoid muscle strains and tears.
Another great activity is a hike. Like sprinting, hiking targets a different set of leg muscles that are just as
needed to support long distances.
Hiking hits hamstrings harder. These are the muscles that pull your
quads back into place as you shift your weight.
The better in-shape the hamstrings are for a longer run, the more
efficiently your thighs will work as a whole for the entire distance. On
top of working out your hamstrings, hikes also better target your
glutes, hips, abs, and calves: all of which are used to create great
As you begin training for the longer races, take your rest days to
practice these three exercises. They will help balance the muscle
growth in your legs.
The better balanced your muscle groups, the better they will be able to work in conjunction to prevent
an early visit to Dr. McCandless for knee replacement surgery. Train smart and you’ll make it to race day
without a problem.