Do you know your Q angle?
If you are a frequent runner that either runs for fun or you are a more serious runner then you may have already heard about the Q angle. If you running amounts to running for the bus occasionally then you probably won’t be too concerned about this article.
The Q angle of the Knee is the angle between the Quadriceps and the Patella Tendon of the Knee. The angle is measured using a Goniometer. For men the angle is usually 14 degrees and for women it is usually 17 degrees.
A women’s Q angle is greater due to the fact that women’s hips are generally wider than mens. Having wider hips means the femur descends in to the knee at an inward angle. This can create added stress on the joints, this can lead to complications and knee pain, such as runner’s knee. This could also cause the feet to pronate more and possibly require supportive shoes.
Many running stores / sports shops today have machines that analyse your running style and indicate whether you over or under pronate. The sales assistant will usually then recommend a rather expensive pair of running shoes to correct the problem. Custom made orthotics (inserts into shoes) can be beneficial in reducing stress and injury. The following article suggests various exercises to strengthen the hips which can also help with pronation issues. See – ; http://www.runnersworld.com/injury-treatment/do-weak-hips-cause-pronation?page=single
Whilst supportive shoes and custom orthotics help with pronation issues and can certainly help to prevent injuries when running on road or cross country, a check up with a specialist is recommended if it is determined that you excessively under or over pronate as it could also be due to week and / or tight muscles in the lower limbs. The real solution is to work to strengthen these muscles and improve flexibility. Many articles and trainers suggest walking around bear feat as it will help with balance and strength.
Both men and women need to pay particular attention to strength and flexibility. Quadriceps and hamstrings need to be both strong and flexible. If muscles are too tight or not strong enough it can cause problems with alignment and result in injuries and pain. Stronger supporting muscles can reduce the strain on the knee. Not all Q angle abnormalities can be fixed and as mentioned before specialist advice should be obtained but certainly the right exercise and good practice in most cases helps.
We tend to take our bodies for granted and only start taking care of ourselves when we feel pain. Before you decide to become the next long distance here make sure you have prepared properly and understand the importance of stretching and conditioning. A comparatively small amount of preparation and research could save you from weeks, months or years of pain and injury.