Most running enthusiasts are familiar with the common ailment of runner’s knee or to give the correct title, Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome. The pattern is familiar. Pain starts as a mild pain around the knee or behind the knee cap which is exaggerated when running especially up or down hills and steps. It may be a dull pain or it may be very sharp and severe. However, the knee pain gradually increases and develops to an unbearable pain. The pain is excruciating and the runner feels he is left with no option but to hang up his running shoes.
Is Running Bad for your Knees?
Most runners think that running will blow your knees and that running is always bad for your knees. In truth this is not the case. Running need not be bad for your joints if you take a few simple measures to protect your knees from pain and injury. Actually running assists future arthritic patients to be more active in later years. The motion of running helps to build fluid in the knees which keeps them moving.
What Causes Knee Pain when Running?
It is important to understand the causes of knee pain in order to prevent it. Runner’s knee is a multi-dimensional condition which can be caused by excess use, overloading, misalignment or direct trauma. It is vital to establish that the cause of the troublesome knee pain when running is not actual damage or fraying to the cartilage of the patella. This can be done with a scan by your primary health care team. Your physiotherapist should also rule out hip misalignment as an underlying cause. Some people have genetic disposition to arthritis and other conditions which would cause chronic knee pain.
What can you do to Prevent Knee Pain from Running?
It is critical to listen to your body when running or undertaking any form of exercise. Those first twinges of knee pain should not be ignored. You should not push through the pain. If you have knee pain from running you need to change to a lower impact, gliding activity.
- Warm up and cool down properly. It is astonishing how many committed and sensible running enthusiasts neglect this critical aspect of their running regime.
- Running programs should build slowly and incorporate rest days into the routine.
- Check out your running shoe which may be aggravating your knee problems.
- Avoid over-striding which may be the cause of your knee pain when running.
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Treatment Options for Knee Pain when Running
There is good news and bad news for runners who suffer from chronic knee pain when running. It is a relatively minor condition but there is really a delay in tissue repair between runs. That means rest is the most important aspect of the treatment. As any runner knows that it is the most challenging treatment of all and the temptation to get back on the track before you are ready is great but whatever injury you have sustained, it’s critical to listen to your own body. Do not run if you are in pain and only begin running again when you have recovered fully.
- Gentle stretches will help ease the pain.
- Ice packs and cold compresses are very beneficial in treating knee pain from running.
- If there is pain there is inflammation so the most suitable form of pain relief is an anti inflammatory over the counter medication. You can take pills orally or you can apply a cream to the affected area.
- You should always see a health practitioner if the knee is swollen or the pain is very severe.