Race training can be quite intense and is often centered around a lot of running and jumping.
As a result, it’s not uncommon for athletes to suffer occasional knee pain stemming from overuse injuries like iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS), patellofemoral pain syndrome (runner’s knee), or patellar tendonitis (jumper’s knee).
No matter what the cause, there are certain measures you can take to help relieve the pain and get back in the action.
Whenever you begin to experience knee pain, the first and most basic remedy is ice and rest.
Use ice for the first 24 to 48 hours and then change to moist heat. Take some time and rest your legs and knees. This is the best remedy for pain associated with overuse.
Limit your weight bearing to the affected knee if possible. If you need to continue exercising, change it up for a while. Rather than continuing to stress the joint with running, try swimming, which will not put pressure on your knee joint.
When the pain begins to subside, begin light running again until you are back to your regular exercise routine. Stretching the quadriceps, hamstrings, and calf muscles is also very important once you do resume activities.
Getting into a good stretching habit, even after the pain has subsided, will help prevent the problem from recurring.
If after using ice and rest, you still experience pain and swelling to the knee, use ibuprofen to help with the inflammation.
Use ice several times a day, 15 minutes at a time. Keep your knee elevated and resting above your heart as much as possible.
Depending on the severity of the injury, you may need to consult with an orthopedic physician, who may recommend a few sessions of physical therapy.
You may also need to begin a new exercise routine consisting of stretching and partial range of motion exercises to strengthen your leg and knee before resuming running.
For patellar tendonitis, your physician may suggest exercises to strengthen the tendon that is stressed and causing pain.
If after several weeks the pain continues, steroid injections may help relieve the pain. Your physician will decide whether your injury requires this type of intervention.
By injecting a corticosteroid medication into your knee, this can help to relieve the pain and inflammation, making it possible for you to resume exercising.
In extreme cases, surgical intervention or an arthroscopy may be required to heal your knee. In an arthroscopy, the surgeon will remove torn patellar cartilage through a small incision in your leg.
All in all, the best way to avoid these types of injuries is to incorporate a solid exercise program based on muscle strengthening, muscle endurance, flexibility and agility.
All four components will help turn you into a stronger, more balanced athlete.