Clumsy runners do not have pretty knees
April 12, 2013 6:53 AM   Subscribe

How do I protect my knees while running?

So I'm a runner, been one for several years, and as I get faster I also seem to get clumsier. The other day I did a Pete Rose slide down several feet of concrete and scraped off quite a chunk of meat from my palms, knee and calf. I can protect my palms by wearing workout gloves, but what about my knee? Knee pads are just too bulky and tend to pinch and chafe the skin behind my knee.

I know for a fact I'm not the only person out there with this problem; two other runners at my gym also show up time to time with booboos from pavement.

And yeah, I could move to trails, if there was one that's nearby and safe. I'd rather run on trails but it is what it is.
posted by tigerjade to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Is there something strange about your form that is causing the imbalance? I would have your form and gait looked at. I used to fall a lot when I ran, and it all had to do with concentration and balance.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:03 AM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I also wondered about your running form. It might be worth going to a local running store and asking them to look, maybe?

Exercises to strengthen your core and balance might help, as might slow running in situations where precision is called for. In my area, people jog slowly along the surface of a sea wall -- it looks crazy but it's very doable if you take it slowly or even start by walking. (I've seen people run at normal speeds along it, although I am not one of them!)

Also, if you haven't read Born to Run yet, it might be helpful for thinking about a more minimalist running style that might make this easier for you (I definitely found it helpful for this).
posted by pie ninja at 7:39 AM on April 12, 2013


(Not to threadsit, but...) I've had my gait analyzed several times, and no one's found an issue yet (that could speak to the running stores around here, or to the time of day I can go to get my gait analyzed, or any number of variables, but still, no one has found a reason in my gait for me being prone to tripping). I have a mid-foot strike; switched to Pose after repeated injuries to my soleus. Every time I trip and fall, it's at stupid o'clock, and I get caught by something uneven in the pavement (lip of a sidewalk concrete slab, tree root growing up under the pavement, like that). I can't really do much about not running super early other than just not run at all, so that's out. I'm not PARTICULARLY fatigued (early to bed, early to rise), but fatigue probably plays a part, as does the lack of light at stupid o'clock.

I've tripped and torn through multiple layers of pants (it was COLD that morning) even when I thought I was paying attention (no music, sometimes have a running partner but not always) to the surface, so any tricks to help me pay MORE attention would be useful.

Really, though, I'm hoping there's a product out there that'll help me at least keep from getting repeated scrapes on the same parts of my body.
posted by tigerjade at 7:47 AM on April 12, 2013


You could try taping/wrapping your knees in different ways with athletic tape- it wouldn't stop them from getting hurt by a fall that rips through multiple pairs of pants, but it would stop more superficial cuts and probably ameliorate more intense ones.
posted by jetlagaddict at 7:54 AM on April 12, 2013


I had a year where this kept happening and I eventually purchased two thin knee sleeves so that I could give my knees time to heal. The one I bought looks a lot like this one.
posted by JuliaKM at 7:56 AM on April 12, 2013


I'm not a runner, I'm a cyclist, but lordy lordy do I understand your clumsiness. My knees are spotted with scar tissue, including places where the same spot has been scraped open multiple times.

The last time I wiped out was, um, a week ago. I hit my knees hard; they're still a really lurid dark purple-scarlet, and I'm dark-skinned and don't bruise easily. However, I barely broke the skin and only bled a tiny amount, because I only tore through the outer layer of my tights and not through the inner layer.

What tights are so bulletproof that they can slide across asphalt, not tear all the way through, and keep knees that have bruising in the pattern of graded asphalt's nubbliness from being scraped to hell? Pearl Izumi AmFib Elite tights. Which are made for cycling. However, these look very similar, including the very tough windproof outer layer and softer fleece inner layer.

I do not have any personal experience with Pearl Izumi running apparel, but my bike messenger boyfriend who has been wearing them for like 8 years and I can both not say enough nice things about their winter cycling tights.
posted by Juliet Banana at 7:58 AM on April 12, 2013


If light is an issue, you might want to consider running with a headlamp. It takes a while to get used to, but it can cause those little hazards to cast a little more of a shadow.
posted by advicepig at 9:20 AM on April 12, 2013


I do it too. I try to roll when I fall and take most of the rash on my shoulder, but I've done the hands and knees thing plenty of times. I'm way more likely to do it when I'm tired and for me it happens when I'm not lifting my foot as high as usual so that I'm capable of hitting the slightest imperfection in the road with my toe. I don't think any kind of pad is doable because my running life is mostly about trying to avoid things that rub, chafe, or heat me up. Any thin sleeve is just going to get chewed up by the pavement like your pants. I find its much better to fall on asphalt than concrete. I love trail running, but I fall WAY more on the trails.
posted by Lame_username at 9:54 AM on April 12, 2013


i personally dislike the idea of wearing more layers of clothing for the sake of protection, especially in warmer months. so i came in here to suggest athletic tape as well, but also to say.. falling is just part of what it is to be a runner. what's more important is if you get back up and keep going!
posted by cristinacristinacristina at 5:16 PM on April 12, 2013


Run somewhere else besides the sidewalk/street?
posted by victory_laser at 7:21 PM on April 12, 2013


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