While there are many benefits to running, the reality is that every stride taken puts some type of stress on your knees. It is common to experience some knee pain after running, but if that pain continues for long periods of time, particularly after you have done basic treatment (Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation), then it may be time to seek professional assistance.
Runner’s knee is a term frequently used as a blanket expression to describe multiple disorders or injuries. Whether you run for exercise or choose to compete, understanding the types of disorders or injuries that cause knee pain after running is a good idea.
Inner Knee Pain After Running
The inner knee is the point where the tendons of the hamstring and other large muscle meet and attach to the tibia. Repetitive strain such as running can cause soreness and tenderness. Symptoms include pain over the inner and lower knee, pain when climbing stairs, localized swelling, and pain when the hamstrings are contracted or stretched. Repetitive injury, poor stability of the hip muscles, decreased mobility of the ankle and foot, and tightness of the muscles that attach at the inner knee can cause irritation of the bursa, MCL (medial Collateral Ligament), joint capsule, or medial meniscus.
Outer Knee Pain After Running
There are many causes for this type of injury, including weak hip muscles, over pronating (the foot rolls inward making it hard to stabilize), excessive training or hill running. Symptoms include tightness of the Tensor Fasciae Latae muscle, which attaches to the iliotibial (IT) band or, pain when walking or running downhill, pain when flexing or extending the knee, and exacerbated pain when pressing in at the side of the knee.
Back of Knee Pain After Running
Common causes for pain behind the knee include as well as hamstring tendinitis, popliteus tendonitis, or a Bakers cyst, which is specific swelling behind the knee caused by another injury. A more serious, yet less common, cause is Posterior Cruciate Ligament Injury, caused by the knee bending the wrong way through impact or twisting.
Front of Knee Pain After Running
Common causes of pain to the front of the knee include irritation of the quadriceps tendon, and irritation of the cartilage under the knee cap. Poor running mechanics, tight thigh muscles, and poor hip and ankle mobility and stability lend to the irritation of this area.
Corrective Measures to Prevent Knee Pain
There are steps you can take to minimize knee pain after running, including:
- Choose the correct footwear – make sure your shoes are fitted for you and seek advice from people who work at shops that specialize in running shoes.
- Train wisely – choose a training schedule that is appropriate for your experience and fitness levels. If you are trying to train too fast, consider choosing a different running event rather than pushing too hard. Most injuries occur from overtraining and pushing beyond appropriate limits.
- Train pain free – pushing through the pain can lead to more serious injuries. Your body tells you something is wrong when you are in pain, so pay attention to the signs and perform appropriate measures to prevent injury.
- Keep stretching – simple and powerful. Continue stretching to improve flexibility and prevent painful conditions.
- Foam Roll – foam rolling to the gluteal muscles, thighs, and calves helps to increase range of motion, decrease pain, and helps to promote health to the connective tissues that impact the knee.
- Corrective Exercise – strength and endurance of the gluteal muscles stabilize the hip and decrease the biomechanical stress on the knee. Make sure to use resistance bands while performing bridges, clamshells, reverse clamshells, and lateral walks.
There are many reasons you may experience knee pain after running. Some are typical and can be treated with rest and some are more serious. The key is to understand the risks, listen to your body, and seek assistance to treat symptoms as soon as possible.