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Knee Pain when Running

James O'Brien provides advice on the causes and ways of dealing with knee pain when running.

Running is one of the best forms of exercise that people can do. However, they often stop engaging in this workout because of pain in their knees or lower legs. The reasons for this vary, and most of them are due to things that the affected person is unaware of.

It is estimated that over 50 million Americans have experienced knee trouble. Statistics show that knee problems are prevalent; they are the second most common joint injuries with spinal injuries taking the first spot. As such, the need for people to know what to do so that they can avoid or lower the risk of knee troubles is paramount.

The first thing is to be aware of the possible injuries and problems that are associated with running. They include:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Ligament injuries
  • Achilles tendonitis
  • Patellofemoral pain
  • Shin splints
  • Hamstring pulls
  • Meniscus tears and pain

The pain that you may experience in your knee or lower leg can be due to the following:

  • Poor biomechanics of walking or running
  • Poor muscular strength and coordination
  • Lack of flexibility
  • Muscular strength imbalance

Ways To Avoid And Deal With Knee Pain

Do not push through the pain

They say there is no gain without pain, which is a statement that seems truer when it comes to exercising to gain muscle mass and tone the body. However, while that burning sensation, you feel when your muscles are stretched and put under a stain may be expected, it should not be something that makes you feel excessive pain. Pay attention to any dull and sharp pain that you may feel; this will be a sign for you to push through the workout or stop.

Warm up before starting your exercises, even if it is running. You need to wake up the muscles and tissues and get that internal lubrication going. The necessary fluids will flow into the appropriate areas, thus improving mobility and elasticity and lessening friction. Do a few dynamic stretches to activate your muscles and tissues and enhance flexibility.

Increase your leg strength

By enhancing the strength of your legs, you increase their endurance levels for the run. You can do this by doing knee extensions, hip side-lifts, wall sits, toe raisers, and other workouts.  Get in touch with experienced physicians to help you discover ways of doing these exercises and how they help improve your performance and endurance. Cable glute kickbacks are a good way to help this region among other exercises.

Improve patella (kneecap) tracking

The patella will form a perfect C when the knee is bent and should slide up and down. You should check the function by doing simple actions such as lifting the leg and rotating the whole of it to help strengthen the muscles at the knees and inner thigh. Stretch the kneecaps by moving them from side to side and up and down. It will ensure that the kneecaps glide with ease during motion. Most cases of patellofemoral pain are attributed to poor patella tracking. An experienced physical therapist can correctly diagnose and treat the issue.

Maintain and improve flexibility

The leg muscles are powerful and gradually tighten as you run, and this depends on the duration and physical intensity of your running exercise. The iliotibial "IT" band, which is made up of the hamstring and outer leg tissues, tightens up when working out the legs and this changes the functions and response of the knees leading to pain. You can limit this by doing some stretches and adequate warm-ups, which you can complement with some yoga before you start your run.

Improve your balance and coordination

You should engage in exercises that build and support your sense of balance (proprioception). Some routines are simple, such as standing on one leg with your eyes closed or open. Make sure that you are on a steady and safe surface with something nearby that you can hold onto in case you lose your balance.

Insoles can Help

Good insoles in your trainers can help and provide you with the support you need, as well as additional bounce to take the pressure off your feet - the Orthotic Shop has a great selection.

See a specialist

You should seek the advice of a physical therapist if you engage in any or all of the above routines but have recurring knee pain that lasts more than three days.  The therapist will conduct a thorough examination of your joints, assessing your walking patterns, movement, strengths, and mobility of your joints, your proprioception, and patella tracking.

The test will help determine the nature and source of the knee pain and the best course of treatment. It will also help to understand how to prevent the problem from reoccurring.

Having a routine check done by a physical therapist is vital, whether you are an avid athlete or not. It will help you avoid issues such as knee pain and improve your movement and overall body function during and after exercising.

Page Reference

If you quote information from this page in your work, then the reference for this page is:

  • O'BRIEN, J. (2019) Knee Pain when Running [WWW] Available from: [Accessed

About the Author

James O'Brien is a regular runner and has completed two marathons in the last five years. He has suffered numerous injuries in his time and has taken an interest in prevention, rather than cure. He is also a father of two children and has a dog.