Knee joint is the most complicated and important joint in the body. It is used in almost all the movements such as standing up, walking, running, sitting etc. All this movements make knee joint vulnerable to knee injuries, either due to overuse or due to direct impact injuries. Besides, being a weight bearing joint, it also has to bear the brunt of your weight.
Pain in knees when running is often complained by athletes, and those who are actively involved in activities such as walking a long distance, jumping and biking etc. The condition is often called runner’s knee as the ailment is common among runners.
The pain is felt behind the knee cap and it is generally diffuse. It is felt more at the point where the thigh bone and kneecap meet. Pain becomes worse when climbing downstairs, running, jumping or when getting up after sitting for a long time. There is swelling in the knee joint.
What Causes Knee Pain While Running?
The condition is common among young people and those who are active. However, many times it is also present in inactive people and elderly individuals. There are several reasons that are attributed for pain in knee joint while running.
- Overuse of knee: running is a high impact sports. It can cause enough wear and tear to the knee joint. Bending of knee repeatedly while running may irritate the nerves around the kneecap. The consequent overstretching of tendons and tissues attached to the knee joint can also cause pain in knee.
- Trauma: trauma to the knee joint after a fall or direct impact which is common in certain sports such as football, hockey, basketball etc.
- Weak thigh muscles: thigh muscles are attached to the knee joint. When they become weak, the knee cap may not remain stable and move out of the grove causing damage to the cartilage which is cushioning the joint.
- Flat feet: the muscles and tendons of thigh and knee are overstretched while running in people who have flat feet. This happens due to collapse of the arch with every impact of the step.
- Running on an uneven road which has slop on its side may cause extra pressure on the knee. If you run for prolonged period on such uneven roads, you can suffer from pain in your knee when running.
Treatment For Knee Pain While Running
If the pain is mild or moderate, it reduces after a period of time on its own. But to encourage the healing you may follow these tips;
- Rest: rest is essential to reduce pain and irritation in knee joint.
- Ice fomentation: apply ice covered in a sheath of cloth on the painful knee. Apply for 10 to 15 minutes at the interval of 6 hours for 2 to 3 day. It reduces swelling and acute pain in knee joint.
- Knee compression: give support to the knee joint with elastocrepe knee bandage.
- Elevation: keep your knee elevated while sitting or lying down. You can keep a pillow under your knee.
- Practice physiotherapy exercises to strengthen the thigh muscles.
How To Prevent Pain In Knees When Running?
It is possible to prevent pain in knee when you run by taking few steps such as:
- Run on softer surface than on concrete road, preferably on grass surface. This reduces the impact on knee joint and knee pain.
- Wear knee support such as a brace if there is previous history of knee pain while running.
- Use orthotics in your shoes if you are flatfoot.
- Reduce your weight if you are obese.
- Wear good shoes with enough support. Do not wear shoes which has lost its shape and the sole are worn out.
- Do not climb on hills and run on a flat surface.
- Do not over strain; stop running once you feel pain in knee.
- Strengthen your thigh muscles with regular stretching exercises.