How to Forestall Knee Pain

A slight lean forward may help runners, new research suggests

Knee pain is the most common running overuse injury. As many as one in ten runners, and many cyclists, suffer from it. Leaning slightly forward while running could avert it, new research suggests.

Hsiang-Ling Teng of the University of California, San Francisco and Christopher M. Powers of the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, writing in the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, say they tested three groups of runners, one set that ran erect, one leaning slightly forward, and a baseline group that could run as they wished. The stress they measured on the knee was least for the forward-leaning group.

It is important to note that the test runners weren’t experiencing knee pain such as runner's knee, IT band syndrome or patella tendonitis before or during the research; it was the strain being imposed on their knee that was being measured.

While ice and rest is the routine treatment for instances of runner's knee, the findings could mean that leaning slightly forward may provide an alternative to a common recommendation for relieving persistent knee pain though changes to a runner's posture and body alignment, switching to a midfoot strike. This is held to lessen the loading forces on the knee compared to a heel strike.

For many runners, altering the angle of lean would probably be easier than changing foot strike.

Many physiotherapists also recommend that as well as working on your form, you do exercises that strengthen your hips and glutes. As we have said before, the key is to prevent injury in the first place and to take the necessary steps for a proper recovery if you do get injured.