Discover some of the most common reasons why our knees might start hurting after running and a few possible ways to prevent the pain. Learn more here.
Many runners are familiar with the saying ‘if it doesn’t hurt, it doesn’t work’. But pain could mean a harmless slight twinge or a sudden, serious ache. And when it comes to our knees, we can feel anything in between. So, what leads to knee joint pain after running? And how can you fix whatever is causing the discomfort?
Before we delve into the causes and solutions for knee pain, it’s important to mention that your doctor is the best person to answer these questions. Your health history, what shoes you’re wearing, what surface you’re running on and the shape you’re in can all contribute to knee joint pain after running, which is why your GP will be able to give you the help and advice you need. But generally, there are a few things to keep in mind when you’re heading for your daily jog. Here are the most common causes for knee pain in runners and possible remedies.
The most obvious cause for pain after running is trauma. If your knee continues to hurt after a fall or a blow, have it checked by a doctor. You want to make sure the injury hasn’t caused a fracture, especially if the pain is felt in the inner knee. Tendinitis, a condition in which the tendons next to the knee become inflamed, can also be on the cards whenever injuries affect our legs.
No doubt any committed runner knows how important stretching is. But what does it have to do with knee pain? After all, we can’t stretch our knees. It turns out that if the muscles around the kneecap are not properly stretched before a run, the damage can be felt by the tissues connected to our knees. When the leg muscles are stretched, the knees gain extra mobility which means less pressure will be put on them during exercises such as running.
Running seems such a natural thing to us, that we rarely think whether we’re doing it right. But making running mistakes is incredibly easy and oftentimes it’s our knees that suffer the most. So, try to maintain a good form by not over striding, place your foot directly under your knee and not in front of it, look ahead and not down and keep your chest positioned a bit forward. You can also avoid knee joint pain after running by improving your mobility in between jogging sessions with specific exercises that focus on flexibility.
Your leg and hip should be perfectly aligned, but unfortunately this is not always the case and your kneecap may end up moving sideways during exercise. Knee pain and swelling are the most obvious symptoms when this happens.
Running may put a strain on your kneecaps. The repeated bending of your knees during running (or any other exercises), especially if accompanied by a bad running form, could also be the cause behind your sudden knee joint pain after running.
Weak muscles might also explain why your knees hurt after exercise. This is because various muscles help keep the kneecaps in their groove. But if they’re weak or haven’t been properly stretched, this can affect the joints in the knees, resulting in pain.
If you’re feeling pain in your knees after running, as well as during your days off, you might be suffering from arthritis. This condition appears when the cartilage in the joint is wearing off, causing swelling and pain around your knee area. If your joint pain is persistent, talk to your doctor to rule out this health issue. Although there is no cure, there are many options available that may help alleviate the symptoms, from lifestyle changes to medication and even surgery.
If you’re experiencing pain in your knee, the best thing to do is consult a physician. But while you’re at home, you can apply ice to the area and gently stretch your legs if the pain is not too severe. Elevating the affected leg is usually helpful in reducing swelling. The doctor may recommend physiotherapy, medication to manage pain or wearing a brace to take some of the weight off your knee and allow it to heal.
But remember that knee joint pain after running might also be avoided. There are plenty of things you can do that may help prevent this painful predicament. Learn more about what a proper running form looks like to make sure you minimise any mistakes you may be making that are putting your knees in danger. Always stretch before you start exercising and never strain more than your body allows you to.
If you’re experiencing knee joint pain that doesn’t seem related to running, here is our article about other possible causes to keep in mind.