I’m in the process of training for an ultramarathon (Squamish 50) and a marathon (BMO Marathon).
And let me tell you, it ain’t pretty.
I’m talking big juicy blisters under the pads of my toes.
I’ve even resorted to painting my toenails dark red in an attempt to hide my bruised and blackened nails.
But a couple of battered toes aren’t too bad of a sacrifice when training in such a high impact sport. Unfortunately, some people suffer from joint pain and injury while training. Knees are a common casualty of runners and high endurance athletes, which is why it is important to develop even strength throughout the muscles of the legs so that the knee joint is stabilized.Click for full post
Let’s break it down very simply.
Your femur is the long bone in your upper leg.
Your tibia is the bone in your lower leg, also known as your shine bone.
The round bone where these two meet is called your patella, or knee cap.
Together these comprise the knee joint, one of the largest and most complex joints of the human body.
Surrounding your femur are tendons (which attach muscle to bone), ligaments (connects bone to bone/cartilage) and the muscles of your hamstring and quadriceps.
Your hamstrings consist of three muscles that originate in your pelvis and run along the back of your leg.
Your quadriceps consist of four muscles that are situated at the front and side of your thigh. These four muscles come together to form a tendon that connects to your tibia by crossing your patella.
When you bend your knee your patella glides smoothly over the bottom part of your femur, an action that is largely facilitated by the muscles of your quadriceps.
By understanding how the knee joint works and moves it is easier to imagine how a muscular imbalance in the thigh may cause the knee joint to track off course. This causes stress on the joint and can lead to injury or inflammation of the meniscus (the shock absorbing cartilage in your knee).
So how does Yoga help?
Yoga can be an excellent preventative or even restorative practice for athletes with knee or joint issues.
Yoga asanas strengthen the muscles that support the knee, which helps to stabilize it and therefore prevent injury.
Yoga also improves balance and core strength, allowing you to move tactfully while running.
Aside from the benefits of stretching and strength building, yoga helps to increase an athlete’s awareness of their body, making them more sensitive to the warning signs of potential injury.
Phew! That was a lot of information.
If you are more of a visual or kinesthetic learner check out the most recent video I filmed for the globe and mail: Utkatasana/chair pose which is particularly good for building even strength in the legs, providing stability for the knee joints.
Sports Injury Advice Website
Picture of the knee: © 2014 WebMD, LLC.
Chair pose anatomy photo: © 2005, 2006 Raymond A. Long MD.