Running into Knee Pain: A Runner’s Guide to Sore Knees From Running

As a runner, there is nothing more frustrating than being sidelined by knee pain. Whether you’re a seasoned marathoner or a casual jogger, sore knees can put a halt to your training regimen and even your daily activities. With an increase in popularity in running and the launch of Run Club’s around Adelaide and Australia, sore knees from running or during running is becoming a more common concern.

What Are Common Knee Injuries in Runners?

Before starting physiotherapy for knee pain, it is important to work out what the injury is likely to be. As a Sports Physio, this can be determined with a combination of specific questions and tests. The most common cause of knee pain with running are:

  1. Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (Runner’s Knee):Runner’s knee is a common overuse injury which presents as pain around or behind the kneecap (patella). It often results from repetitive stress on the patellofemoral joint, leading to irritation and inflammation of the surrounding tissues. It is particularly noticed during activities such as running, climbing stairs, or sitting with knees bent for prolonged periods.
  2. Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS):Iliotibial Band Syndrome is another overuse injury that occurs when the iliotibial band, a thick band of connective tissue that runs along the outside of the thigh, becomes tight or inflamed. This can cause friction and irritation as the band rubs against the outside of the knee joint. This can cause sharp or burning pain on the outside of the knee, especially during activities like running downhill or bending the knee.
  3. Patellar Tendonitis (Jumper’s Knee):Jumper’s knee presents as pain and tenderness at the base of the kneecap (patella), particularly during activities that involve jumping, running, or kneeling. It is caused by inflammation or degeneration of the patellar tendon, which connects the kneecap (patella) to the shinbone (tibia). It often develops from repetitive jumping or running activities that stress the tendon.
  4. Meniscal Tears:Meniscal tears involve damage to the meniscus, the cartilage cushioning between the thighbone (femur) and shinbone (tibia) within the knee joint. They can occur due to sudden twisting or rotational movements, as well as repetitive stress over time. Runners tend to notice pain, swelling, stiffness, and even a popping sensation within the knee joint, especially during activities like running, squatting, or twisting.

What Causes Knee Pain In Runners?

There are a number of reasons runners can get sore knees. The most common reasons are:

  • Overuse Injuries: Excessive running without adequate rest can lead to overuse injuries.
  • Poor Running Form: Running with inefficient technique can lead to undue stress on the knee joint.
  • Muscle Imbalances: Weakness in the muscles surrounding the knee joint can place extra load on the knee joint, which may lead to knee pain.
  • Footwear: Wearing worn-out or unsupportive shoes can contribute to knee pain by altering your gait mechanics and increasing impact forces on the knees.
  • Training Errors: Rapidly increasing mileage or intensity, abruptly changing running surfaces, or neglecting proper warm-up and cool-down routines can stress the knees and increase the risk of injury.
  • Previous Injuries: Past knee injuries, such as sprains, strains, or ligament tears, may leave the knee joint vulnerable to recurring pain or instability, especially if not fully rehabilitated.

How Can Physiotherapy Help With Knee Pain After Running?

A physiotherapist that has an understanding of running injuries will be able to help identify the cause of the pain and work on a plan to get you running pain-free again. This may include a combination of :

  • Reviewing Load: A Sports Physiotherapist will never make you stop running, unless it is essential for your recovery. However, looking at options to decrease overall load on the knee joint may be helpful for a fast recovery.
  • Pain Management: There are many things a physio can do to help with sore knees. This may include soft tissue massage to the surrounding muscles, dry needling, or taping to provide support and stability.
  • Strengthening Exercises: All runners should have a strengthening program to help decrease the chance of injury and improve running performance. Your physiotherapist will assess which muscles need strengthening and give you an individualised exercise program.
  • Footwear Review: A review of the current condition of your running shoes and a recommendation for type of shoe may be made. At ECP Physiotherapy, we can recommend you to local shoe stores and experts in helping you choose the best running shoe.
  • Running Assessment: An assessment of your running technique can help to identify any biomechanical issues that may be contributing to your injury.
  • Education and Advice: There are many other factors that may be contributing to your injury that your physiotherapist can advise you on. This may include warm-up, cool-down, nutrition, overall wellbeing, cross-training and future load management.

At ECP Physiotherapy, we love treating runners with sore knees, and understand the frustrations that knee pain can cause. If you would like help with getting back to running pain free, then click here to Book Now and visit us at our Kent Town clinic, located between Norwood and the Adelaide CBD.

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