Knee Pain From Running

Knee Pain From Running

Great examples of how to combat knee pain from running. Details on some of the causes, and a selection of exercises and video links that will show you can overcome this pain and get back out running today.

knee pain from running

The most common injury that runners develop is patellofemoral pain syndrome.  This knee pain from running, also known as runner’s knee or anterior knee pain, accounts for about 1 in 5 of all injuries to runners. The primary symptom is pain under the kneecap that begins as a mild pain but ends up becoming more intense as running goes on. If you keep training on this knee, the sensation becomes even more intense.

There are quite a few theories about the type of damage that creates this pain. The reason for these different ideas is that, in contrast with other maladies like meniscus damage, patellofemoral pain syndrome has no structural anomaly that shows up on an X-ray, arthroscope or MRI. This has recently led orthopedists to look at patellofemoral pain syndrome as a condition in which the pain itself is the main part of the injury.


Many different types of minor tissue decay, like swelling in the synovium (that pouch that holds lubricating fluid for the knee), can cause knee pain after running. However, because these breakdowns are not always easy to identify, it is not necessary to target them. Instead, it is important to focus on the pain.


The first step for this is to avoid any activity that makes your knee hurt, including running. However, if you can run without pain, then you should run. Using this strategy will help the damaged tissue rebuild homeostasis, which is the state of breaking down and regenerating. This will also ensure that your knee remains well adapted for running.


Many people who have patellofemoral pain syndrome can get some running in without pain. Some find that they can run for a particular amount of time, like half an hour, without pain, but then the pain starts later. If this is the case for you, just run until you sense your limit coming. As you improve, your limit should increase, as should your running frequency. After you have done this for several weeks, try to run the day after your last run to see if that limit is still in place. Keep building your running until you approach your levels before the injury. When you have soreness, give the whole area a day off. When you do have pain, treat the underlying inflammation. If you take ibuprofen and ice your knee three times a day, 10 minutes each time, this can help the swelling go away sooner.


Prevent knee pain while running

Another factor to look at is your choice of Running Shoes. However, muscle weakness and biomechanical issues might also be contributing to the problem. If your hip external rotators or abductors are weak, knee pain often results as well. When your hip stabilizers are not strong, your thighs rotate inward as your foot hits the ground. This compensates with other muscles in your body to help stabilize your pelvis. However, the muscles cannot take up all that slack, meaning that the pelvis will eventually tilt downward on the side that does not have any support for the leg. The thigh tilts downward with it, much like a tower collapses, while the lower leg stays upright, catching the knee in the middle. This holding effect, as well as twisting of the thigh as it absorbs impacts, leads to eventual damage inside the joint and can cause severe knee pain after running

Muscles of the Gluteal Region

If your knees knock together, teach yourself to actively use the muscles on the exterior of your hips as you run, so that your pelvis will remain level and your thighs will remain in their natural positioning. Exercising to strengthen these muscles is quite important.

  Another important risk factor for patellofemoral pain syndrome is over striding or heel striking. Research is still necessary to prove that there is a link between the two, but studies have discovered that runners with extreme amounts of impact shock on their joints are more likely to end up with patellofemoral pain syndrome. Because heel strikers bring more impact shock than runners who strike with the midfoot, it’s important to train yourself to shorten your stride and land that food flat beneath the hips instead of landing with the heel first, out ahead of the body. If cutting down on impact shock effectively reduces your risk of patellofemoral pain syndrome, then if you change to running shoes that cut down on impact shock, you may also end up helping your knees. The problem with this switch is that the connection between impact shock and shoe cushioning has not been clearly established.

Some research has found that softer cushioning in running shoes actually gives you more impact forces, because you unconsciously adjust your stride to account for the cushioning. Some have suggested, though, that it is a lack of proper measurement techniques that has led to inconsistent results. Because you can’t go through a comprehensive impact test when you are out shopping for the right running shoes, it is not always easy to know how to select the right shoe, with the correct amount of cushioning to minimize your risk of patellofemoral pain syndrome?


Research shows that comfort is one of the most reliable metrics for this. Subjective tests of comfort combined with experiences from the road are even more effective. To start, purchase and use the most comfortable footwear you can find out there. If you run without injury, buy another pair, or the successor shoe as far as your manufacturer goes. If you have an injury while wearing that shoe, try a different model with less or more cushioning that also provides comfort. Keep on testing with different models until you find the very best for your foot. While no shoe will prevent all injuries, finding the best shoe for your foot helps you out considerably.


Overall, patellofemoral pain syndrome is actually fairly minor as far as conditions go. Really, it is just a tissue failure within the knee, in which recovery from runs simply does not take place. The bad news about patellofemoral pain syndrome is that it can feel as paralyzing and last just as long as more serious conditions. Putting these tips to work for you will help you get back out there training a lot more quickly.

A couple of exercises you can work on for strengthening other leg muscles, that can help with this pain are detailed in videos below.  Please consult a Physical Therapist before you work on any of these and do not take the content above as medical advise.  It is purely a description of one of the pains runners get in their knees.

VOM StrengtheningGluteus Medius exercise


Why not check out one of our other really popular posts.  This one targets your abdominals.  Core strength is key to any good fitness plan and the following shows you how to build up killer Abs.  Click the picture below to take a look.

knee pain after running


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