Preventing Marathon Knee Injuries

This Sunday, runners will endure 26 miles of sweat, tears and pounding on their knees in the 2008 Bank of America Chicago Marathon -- and considering that one-third of running injuries involve the knee, that could spell trouble for some of them.

Dr. John Hefferon, of the Neurologic & Orthopedic Hospital of Chicago, has run nine marathons and performed countless knee surgeries. The most common complaint he hears is for runner's knee.  Runner's knee is the inflammation of the tendon in front of the knee.  While it can be irritating, most runners with it can continue racing, Hefferon said. 

The sound of clicking in the knee is another common complaint.  While the sound can be worrisome, doctors say it is typically benign. 

But there are a few symptoms that should land you in a doctor's office.   If you experience swelling in the knee, increasing and persistent pain or groin pain, you should call your doctor. 

Stretching before and after the race is key to prevent injury. It's important to stretch your quadriceps and hamstrings, hip flexors, glutes and outer thighs.  Stretching these major leg muscles can cut the risk of knee injury. 

It can take four to six weeks to recover from a marathon.  Dr. Hefferon recommends only moderate exercise for the first month after the marathon to decrease the risk of injury.

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