Knee Hurt After Running

Exercising every day has proven health benefits, and running every day can be beneficial too under certain circumstances. Some of the benefits of running among others include:

  • reducing the risk of death from a heart attack and stroke,
  • reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases,
  • lowering the risk of developing cancer,
  • lowering the risk of neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease,
  • improving sleep and mood,
  • alleviating stress and improving concentration.

But repeated daily pounding on your legs without incorporating recovery days can increase the risk of injury and burn out.

Often, after going for a long and thorough run, joints start to hurt because of one reason or another that we just can’t seem to explain. According to a study conducted in the Minnesota, most affected joints during running include ankle, knee, hip and shoulder; most common being the knee joint. We are going to tackle the knee; common pain causes and what to do.

Many mistake knee pain as part and parcel of growing older and choose to live with the pain instead of seeking treatment. The good news is that knee pain can be treated by Physiotherapists and therefore there is no need for you to be living in constant pain. If you are currently experiencing knee pain, do read on to find out how Physiotherapists can resolve your knee pain.
Some of the most common causes of knee pain in runners include but not limited to:

Patellar tendinitis.

Tendinitis is irritation and inflammation of one or more tendons — the thick, fibrous tissues that attach muscles to bones. Runners, skaters, cyclists, and those involved in jumping sports and activities may develop inflammation in the patellar tendon, which connects the quadriceps muscle on the front of the thigh to the shinbone. This is mainly because in these type of activities, a lot of strain is put on the patellar tendon. Pain is mostly felt on the front part of the knee just below the knee cap.

Knee bursitis. 

Some knee injuries cause inflammation in the bursae, the small sacs of fluid that cushion the outside of your knee joint so that tendons and ligaments glide smoothly over the joint. This usually happens due to repetitive motion in and around the joint causing a bursa to inflame and become painful. The knee might become swollen and become stiff or tender on pressing on it.

Iliotibial band syndrome

The iliotibial band runs along the outside aspect of the thigh, from the pelvis to the tibia, crossing both the hip and knee joints. It is an important stabilizer structure of the lateral part of the knee as the joint bends or straightens. Iliotibial band syndrome is an overuse injury causing pain on the outside part of the knee especially during running when the heel strikes the ground. Strong glutes and core are key prevention measures for ITB syndrome.

Runner’s knee

In runner’s knee, the pain is felt more on the front part of the knee- just underneath your knee cap, as your knee cap rubs against your thigh bone due to irritated cartilages caused by misaligned of the patella. Usually, no swelling is seen but pain that gets worse while running and going up and down stairs is a distinct feature in it. Reducing the mileage can help alleviate the symptoms a great deal. Strengthening the glutes and the lower limbs is one of the long-lasting treatment options.


Depending on the severity of your symptoms, rest is usually the most preferred first line treatment for conditions affecting the musculoskeletal (muscle and skeleton) system. For pain, either ice or heat treatment is selected depending on the acuteness of the injury or availability of heat or cold treatments.

Foam rolling to reduce  muscle tension on your quads( front part of your thigh) and hams(back of your thigh)  can really prove to be valueless especially in management of conditions like runner’s knee and Iliotibial band syndrome.

More severe injuries require support; like a knee sprain will require a knee sleeve that provides slow, limited movement allowing the knee to gradually regain your range of motion whilst allowing healing to take place.

 A knee support should not be for long term daily wear. This will weaken the muscles, making one very dependent on the support. It should be used as a temporary measure to manage your discomfort until professional advice is sought. The best way to manage your knee discomfort is to see your physiotherapist for prescribed exercises that would be beneficial for you and to strengthen your knee.

Physical therapists are excellent at helping you choose the best support for your injury and taking you through the rehabilitation process of various injuries, incorporating various special techniques and personalized exercise programs to help you go back to your previous active self.

When to seek a physiotherapist

See your physio if you:

  • Can’t bear weight on your knee or feel as if your knee is unstable (gives out)
  • Have marked knee swelling
  • Are unable to fully extend or flex your knee
  • Have a fever, in addition to redness, pain and swelling in your knee
  • Have severe knee pain that is associated with an injury



Written by:
Sharanya Thomas

Physical Therapist
Chiropractic and Physiotherapy Health Center

Why Your Knees Hurt After Running- What To Do About It

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