Knee pain running

How To Reduce Knee Pain When Running

Running is a great way to get a full-body cardio workout in, and you can do it almost anywhere, without expensive gear or a gym membership. What can you do when niggling knee pain starts to occur during a run? If you’re struggling with knee pain after running or even during a jog, there are some ways to reduce and avoid pain so you can get back to enjoying your running routine. 

Running and knee pain from Runner’s Knee 

Knee pain associated with running may occur for a number of reasons. Runner’s Knee, or Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (PFPS) is a common issue for runners but can also occur in non-runners. Runner’s knee is caused when the patellofemoral joint is inflamed or irritated and is located where the kneecap (or patella) and the thigh bone (or femur) meet on the leg.

Symptoms of Runner’s Knee would be pain behind or around the kneecap, especially when running downhill, squatting or sitting for long periods of time. You may also notice a grinding noise when moving your knee, even if knee movement isn’t restricted.

A few major causes of the of Runner’s Knee, are:

  1. Tight muscles around the knee causing strain [See how to improve muscle tightness for good with our Mobility 101 article].
  2. Excessive strain on the knee joint caused by a sudden increase in training.
  3. Weakness of the quads or glutes causing repetitive strain on the joint.
  4. General movement issues.

Traditional wisdom was that ‘bad’ technique or knee alignment caused knee pain after running, but recent medical knowledge suggests this isn’t strictly true. Rather than improper alignment, it’s much more likely that doing too much, too soon, and too often in terms of your training regime is to blame.

When we increase our training load quickly, without allowing our body to become accustomed to the increase in strain, we cause inflammation and pain. The change in training load can also be exacerbated by reductions in mobility which often inter-relates with excessive sitting & lack of movement. (See our video below to get a more thorough explanation). For a full in-depth explanation of exactly why mobility will affect our joint loading, take a look at this in-depth article on the movement hierarchy, to see the many factors that go into us being able to control the movement of our body. 

What you can do to avoid knee pain from running

The good news is that Runners knee isn’t associated with tissue damage and doesn’t indicate any cartilage damage or tears in the tendon. This means that treatment such as physiotherapy, basic exercise and slow progressions in your running training can work to stop knee pain experienced during running.


Other Exercises For Improving Knee Pain

Calf Raises

Placing a chair with its back facing you, hold onto it and raise one leg off the ground. With the other foot still placed on the floor, slowly raise up your heel until you’re standing on tiptoe, and then slowly bring your heel back down to the floor. Repeat 10 – 15 times with each leg. 


Pelvic drops

Find a step you can comfortably fit your foot on, and allow one foot to be suspended in the air next to the step. Without bending your standing leg, allow your hanging leg to lower next to the step towards the ground. Repeat 10 – 15 times on each leg to strengthen the glutes in the standing leg. 

How to reduce knee pain when running

Simple Demonstration of a Pelvic Drop Exercise [Source: Research Gate – Click Image]

Other treatments 

You may find that relief oriented strapping or using a knee brace is a good option for immediate relief of the symptoms of Runner’s Knee. Talk to your physio about whether this option will be helpful for you while you focus on long term rehabilitation. 

Of course, basic exercises might not be sufficient to deal with the knee pain associated with running. It can also be hard to know how much to modify your running and which areas need increased mobility. That’s why expert advice is critical to effectively address knee pain for the long term. 

At MTP Health, we not only offer physiotherapy, but our team of accredited Exercise Physiologists with you to assess exactly why you are experiencing knee pain, then to develop a tailored exercise plan which will actively treat injuries while helping you achieve your health and exercise goals. If knee pain is affecting your running, you can start getting it under control today by booking a one on one consultation session and get on the path to the right treatment and exercise plan to suit you.

If you’re concerned you may have a knee problem that is damaging tissue or being caused by something else, our blog has the full rundown on knee issues and how to treat them. 


BONUS [Full Mobility Routine For Runners]

To get a specific routine customised to your activity needs, come & see us at MTP. During your first appointment, we will be able to run through a comprehensive movement assessment in order to see how your whole body is moving. From there we can provide a complete training program that strengthens your whole body & gets you on the right track towards smashing your health & fitness goals!

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